How To Drink Flaming Shots Without Endangering The Whole Bar

There's nothing like a night on the town to let loose at the end of a long work week. And if you really want to make your evening memorable, you'd be hard-pressed to find a drink as showstopping as a flaming shot. People have been lighting shots on fire for a surprisingly long time — since the mid-19th century. Part of what makes these shots so attention-grabbing is the element of danger they present. There's no illusion to flaming shots; they really are aflame, and can really cause a problem if handled improperly. In order to imbibe flaming shots safely, it's imperative that you don't actually drink them while they are still burning.


You may see some people try to put on a show by knocking a flaming shot back, fire and all, but that can be extremely dangerous and is a good way to end up with singed eyebrows or worse. Since the alcohol in the shot itself is on fire, if you accidentally spill any of the drink, it might burn you, your clothes, a napkin on the bar, or someone around you. That's why before you take your flaming shot, you should smother the flame.

Cover the flame or drop it in liquid before drinking

The first order of business before ordering a flaming shot is to be mindful of your surroundings. Make sure that you're not in an overly crowded space, and that you don't have any loose hairs or clothing that might get burned. Your bartender should clear the serving area of paper napkins and other flammable objects. Once your shot is lit, you can extinguish it by either covering it with an empty glass until the flame goes out or dropping it into a beer or mixer, boilermaker-style. Only once the flame is out should you drink the shot.


Some people may suggest that you simply blow out the flame before knocking it back, but this can be dangerous and should be avoided. Since there's more flammable alcohol than what's burning on the surface of the shot, it's likely that you won't be able to fully snuff out the fire with your breath. And if you blow too hard, you may cause the alcohol to spill onto whatever is in front of you, like the bartender or your friends. Under no circumstances should you attempt to drink the shot while it's still on fire as doing so can cause serious burns to your mouth.

What's the point of flaming shots?

With all the risk involved, it's normal to wonder why people started lighting shots on fire in the first place. In some scenarios, a shot is set aflame to warm it up, which makes it work better as an aperitif after a nice meal. Flaming a shot can also change the flavor by caramelizing the sugars in the various ingredients. For example, in a Flaming Dr. Pepper (which is just amaretto and rum dropped into a pint of beer), the fire is a necessary component in imitating its namesake's sweet taste. While there is some logical reasoning behind lighting a shot on fire, it often comes down to aesthetics. Flaming shots make a huge impression, especially in the age of social media.


Remember to always drink responsibly, and stay vigilant around the flame. Chances are that if you appear too inebriated, your bartender will not give you a flaming shot in the first place. Before you take your shot, put out the flame by covering it or "bombing" it into another non-flammable liquid, or your night might be memorable for all the wrong reasons.