This Is The Right Temperature To Flambe With Alcohol

Eating out can be quite the theatrical experience. Some restaurants serve food set on fire, meats covered in thick blankets of smoke, and desserts rolling in waves of liquid nitrogen. While some extravagant gastronomical experiences are best left to professionals, others are easy enough to try at home, like cooking with alcohol.

French for "flaming," flambé refers to food that is covered in alcohol and then set ablaze, usually in front of an awestruck audience (via MasterClass). Although it may seem like all of the food is on fire, it's only the alcohol that's being burnt till its sharp and punchy bite is gone, leaving only nuanced flavors behind. All Recipes also points out that flambéing only requires a tiny amount of alcohol, which means the fire will douse out as quickly as it ignites, making it nearly impossible to overcook the food.

Flambéing with alcohol is fairly easy and with a few tips, everyone can safely set their desserts, sauces, and cocktails on fire. The most important part is to choose the right kind of alcohol and then, bring it to the right temperature.

Alcohol needs to be at the right temperature for it to flambé

According to MasterClass, there's a fine balance when it comes to choosing a liquor or liqueur for flambéing. The higher the proof, the easier it will be to flambé the liquid so, anything with 40% ABV that's between 80 and 120 proof is ideal. However, avoid drinks higher than 120 proof as they are far more combustible.

Chefs Wilfrid Hocquet and Dan Bark of Thailand-based Michelin-starred restaurants Blue by Alain Ducasse and Cadence by Dan Bark tell Michelin Guide that wine is a good alcohol for those who are new to flambéing. Chef Hocquet also stresses the fact that it's important for the alcohol to be at the right temperature before you flambé it. If the temperature is too high, the alcohol will simply evaporate but if it's not high enough, it will not catch fire no matter how hard you try. The sweet spot he says, is 80 C (176 degrees F).

Because you're working with fire, it's also important to keep a few key safety issues in mind. Have a lid on hand in case the flames get out of control and make sure you're using long matches or lighters to ignite the alcohol so you don't burn your hands. Happy flaming!