After hitting the slopes in Leysin, a quaint town nestled in the Swiss Alps, skiers warm and reenergize themselves in nearby mountainside cafes. If they’re particularly cold or exhausted, they may opt for a flämmli. Perhaps the epitome of après-ski treats, this triple-whammy offers the jolt of coffee, the heat of a cozy fireplace, and the buzz of sweet liqueur all rolled into one. And if it’s your first time, you’ll need to follow the instructions for correctly drinking the hands-on, multi-step beverage. Failure to do so may result in the loss of an eyebrow.
You’ll begin with a small cup of espresso and a bowl of sugar cubes. Spoon in three lumps of sugar, but don’t stir. Gently sip your coffee, leaving any residual, undissolved sugar sitting on the bottom. See that shot of William’s pear schnapps on the table? Pour that into the almost-empty cup. Now, place a sugar cube on your spoon and quickly dip it into the alcohol so that it pools in the center. Grab a lighter, set the spoon on fire, and drop it back into your drink. Sit back and watch it all dance in flames.
Take a minute to enjoy the fire and warm your hands. Once the sugars caramelize, it’s time to return the schnapps to its original glass. Simply pour the booze back while it’s still on fire. Don’t try and blow it out, unless you’re prepared for a fire-breathing dragon effect. Rather, you’ll stifle the flames by hand.
Keeping your palm flat, create a vacuum seal around the rim of the cup. This should extinguish the flames. Once the thrill has worn off, release your hand, bring the cup to your nose, and inhale. Then drink up. Whoever worried themselves with the dangers of mixing caffeine and alcohol obviously failed to consider the fool-proof magic of adding fire.
Need to Know
Flämmli is served in cafes around Leysin. Be warned: If the circumference of the cup is greater than your palm, you'll burn your hand when smothering the flames.