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Cocktail Challenge: Fireball

Stephen Andrews of Billy Sunday fights Fireball with fire in a flaming cocktail.


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"This is the only Fireball that will ever see the inside of Billy Sunday," bartender Stephen Andrews says of the bottle sitting in front of him on the bar.

Challenged by Michael Rubel of Henry's Swing Club to create a cocktail with the cinnamon-flavored whiskey-based liqueur, Andrews admits that while it's not something that Billy Sunday stocks, "I've been known to rip a nip of Fireball in my day. . . . It goes down pretty easy."

"It's very sweet, it's got some spice, it's got that almost artificial cinnamon-candy thing going on," he says. "You get the autumn flavors: nutmeg/clove spice that comes in, finishes pretty hot in the throat."

Andrews has never seen cocktails made with Fireball; it's usually taken as a shot. But the arrival of fall reminded him of eggnog, and he ended up creating an eggnoglike drink using Fireball, apple brandy, sherry, allspice dram, bitters, cream, and egg. For an extra autumnal touch, he served it in a hollowed-out pumpkin partly filled with a combination of bourbon and Fireball (which had been simmered to eliminate some of the alcohol and cooled), and frozen.

After removing the pumpkin from the freezer, Andrews used an ice pick to turn the bourbon-Fireball mixture into an icy slush, mixed the cocktail and poured it into the gourd, and piled crushed ice on top. It's a rich, heavily spiced, boozy drink, Andrews says, much like eggnog—though the Fireball adds a distinctive touch. Billy Sunday will soon offer a different cocktail served in a frozen pumpkin, but it won't involve Fireball.

As a finishing touch, he set the lid of the pumpkin aflame, making a fireball with Fireball. "We're going full circle," Andrews says.

Ichabod's Cranium - PETER HOLDERNESS
  • Peter Holderness
  • Ichabod's Cranium

Ichabod's Cranium

1 whole egg
2 oz Fireball
1 oz Laird's apple brandy
.5 oz Lustau Palo Cortado sherry
1 oz heavy cream
3 dashes Abbott's bitters
1 stir spoon allspice dram
Whole nutmeg

Cut the top off a pumpkin and scoop out the innards. Add bourbon-Fireball reduction (six cups bourbon and six cups of Fireball, reduced and set with three sheets of gelatin) to the pumpkin and freeze for at least 24 hours, then remove and use an ice pick to turn the frozen alcohol into slush.

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker and dry shake. Add ice and shake again. Pour into frozen pumpkin, top with crushed ice, and grate nutmeg on top. Soak a string in high-proof grain spirit, wrap around the stem of the pumpkin, and set on fire.

Who's next:

Andrews has challenged Marta Jean Evans of Longman & Eagle to create a cocktail with the Middle Eastern spice mixture za'atar. "Back in my days of cooking, I used to use it a lot," he says. "I'm quite fond of it, and I thought it would be really interesting in a cocktail."


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