Café Brûlot, a flaming, brandy-spiked coffee with spirals of rich orange zest is the epitome of old-world, over-the-top New Orleans French-Creole grandeur. It’s delicious, and its presentation is sheer theater, replete with potent libations, shiny, odd-looking serving pieces, magical flourishes and flames!
If you’ve ever dined at Antoine’s, Galatoire’s or Arnaud’s, three of the most famous — or infamous — restaurants in New Orleans, you may have enjoyed the spectacle of a table-side preparation of café brûlot. It’s a thick, deeply sweet and citrusy after-dinner digestive, served at only a few old-line eateries in the Crescent City.
The word cafe is, of course, French for “coffee.” And brûlot, may mean either “highly seasoned” or “incendiary”, both of which apply to this festive drink. Even though the ingredient list in a classic café brûlot seems long for an after-dinner coffee drink — and traditional preparations include a special bowl, a special ladle to serve, and special cups in which to drink it — it’s not a difficult treat to make. It looks hard, but really isn’t. That’s why it’s so impressive.
You don’t have to go to all the trouble of buying new equipment and taking a class at cooking school to impress your guests with this chic coffee treat. You can make faux-brûlot. It’s the perfect end to your Thanksgiving dinner.
Faux-Brûlot (Homemade Café Brûlot)
1 organic orange
12 whole cloves
1/3 cup brandy
1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau
1 organic lemon
2 tablespoon sugar
3 cups very hot, very strong brewed coffee (preferably a New Orleans style chicory coffee blend or French roast)
Method: With a sharp vegetable peeler, and avoiding the white pith, remove 3 1-inch strips of lemon peel. Then using the same peeler, remove all peel from orange in long strips, once again avoiding the pith. Stud orange strips with cloves. Using a dutch oven or another wide, heavy saucepan, add orange peel to brandy, liqueur, lemon peel, cinnamon, and sugar. Warm through over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Using a long match (like a fireplace match) carefully tilt pan away from you and ignite mixture (flames will shoot up). Allow flames to subside, then slowly pour in hot coffee. Stir gently and ladle into small cups, leaving seasonings and peels behind. If you don’t have demitasse cups, small tea cups or espresso cups work just as well.