Burning booze makes for festive fun

Burning booze makes for festive fun

Burning booze makes for festive fun

Maila Rible, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 2:18 PM ET

Ah, New Year's Eve. For some it's a time to reflect on the previous twelve months and resolve to make changes. For others, it's a time to reflect on why drinking eight Jäger bombs in half an hour was a terrible idea and resolve to make changes, just as soon as you're done in the emergency room.

When it comes to themes, "Epically Bad Decisions" seems to be a popular one for parties at the end of the year. Not surprisingly, many people fuel the Regret Express with buckets of booze.

One particularly painful car on that train involves flaming shot fails. A quick Google search turns up videos that offer more effective cautions than words ever could concerning the danger of pouring flaming alcohol all over your face. But before you dismiss burning booze as just a way to show off (or enjoy a little schadenfreude), recognize there's a surprising amount of science in that smoldering shot glass.

Given that most types of alcohol people drink are mostly water, you might wonder how they can catch on fire. Alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water. If you heat it up, the alcohol starts to evaporate and is released from the drink as vapor. Those vapors are highly flammable.

A drink like beer contains (comparatively speaking) so little alcohol there isn't enough for it to light on fire, no matter how much heat is applied. You may be able to light a strong wine on fire in a very hot cooking pan. But if you're trying to impress at the bar you need to use drinks that are approaching 40% alcohol. The heat from a lighter will be enough to get the vapors floating out of that oxygen-dampening water and give you a flame from basic liquors like tequila, rum, or vodka.

Aside from the spectacle there are legitimate, even scientific, reasons for blazing booze. By burning off part of the alcohol, the other ingredients in the drink become more concentrated, changing the beverage's flavor. The flame also consumes the "fuel" in the drink, lowering the alcohol content. But unless you let it burn for a long time, you're still going to feel the effects of a typical shot.

Some drinks prescribe the burn as a way to heat the liquid. Others call for layering liquor for flavor, but remember to let the most flammable spirit rest on top. Whatever you choose, make sure safety is part of the recipe. Once you've finished pouring, stow the bottle far from any flames. Use a long lighter to set the drink on fire. You might even want to turn down the lights as some liquors burn with a flame that's so light it's difficult to see. Just because you don't see great balls of fire doesn't mean the drink isn't lit.

Before you put your lips together and blow also keep in mind that puff of air might spray fuel that's on fire all over the bar/ your hands/ your friend's face. So clear the immediate area , wait for the fuel to run out or, as in the case of a Flaming Dr. Pepper, drop the shot into a big mug of beer. As discussed above, beer is about the only kind of booze that makes a pretty good fire extinguisher.

 


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