Café Brulot Diabolique, or “Devilishly Burned Coffee,” was invented at Antoine’s Restaurant in the late 1880s by Jules Alciatore, the son of the restaurant’s founder. According to Phillip Collier’s Mixing New Orleans, Alciatore was inspired by French bon vivants who would drown a sugar cube in Cognac and place it over an open flame before extinguishing it in a cup of hot coffee. Today, you can still find the drink in New Orleans at restaurants including Antoine’s, Galatoire’s and Arnaud’s.
The preparation of Café Brulot is something like a magician’s show. Outside of the flambeaux at a Mardi Gras parade, there’s nothing like it. All ingredients are artfully combined tableside in ornate bowls. After adding the alcohol, the waiter lights the concoction and – to the delight of the guests – proceeds to ladle the flaming liquid into cups. If you try your hand at recipe below, have a fire extinguisher handy – just in case or stop by one of places that specializes in this concoction.
Put the cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel, sugar and brandy in a fireproof bowl and heat on open flame. When the brandy is hot, but not boiling, bring the bowl to the table and ignite with match. Use a ladle to stir and pour the liquid around the bowl for 2 minutes. Pour the hot coffee into the flaming brandy and ladle the mixture into demitasse cups.