You’ve just finished a large meal at one of New Orleans’ French-Creole restaurants. The server appears with a cart bearing brandy, orange liqueur, a pot of black coffee, a clove-studded orange, and a bowl of cinnamon sticks. He starts removing the orange peel in a long spiral, sticks a fork through it, and sets it aside. Then he pours the alcohol into the bowl, scoops a bit out with a ladle, and strikes a match. This is when café brûlot stops being a standard after-dinner drink and becomes something special.
He lights the ladle aflame, picks up the coiled orange peel, and drizzles the fiery liquid down the citrus tendrils. As the orange-blue flame dances down into the bowl, he adds the coffee. Once it’s been extinguished and poured into your cup, the resulting brew will taste sweet and rich, with aromatic notes from the citrus and clove. Some diners note that the second helping of this warm drink is better than the first, as the ingredients have had more time to mingle.
With its warm spice and festive theatrics, café brûlot is most commonly enjoyed on cool nights and special occasions such as the New Orleans holiday of Revillion.
Where to Try It
Antoine’s Restaurant713 St. Louis St., New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Some say this is the birthplace of café brûlot.
Arnaud’s Restaurant813 Bienville St., New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Perhaps the most famous maker of café brûlot.