The preparation of a Paris Is Burning, which requires careful heating, is as vital to the cocktail as its essential ingredients of Cognac and Chambord. According to Gary and Mardee Regan in their book New Classic Cocktails, an unknown bartender at Salty’s on Alki, in Seattle, produced the first version of this cocktail for an executive on the board of the company that owned Chambord liqueur. Brandy and Cognac are often warmed by the hands or a slight flame to release the heady aroma, and the bartender followed this principle by heating the cocktail with a cappuccino machine. The executive was so thrilled with it that Chambord introduced it with the question “Is Paris Burning?” in one of its marketing brochures. This new-wave cocktail, with its casual elegance, is rapidly catching on, and it may well find its way into the classic repertory. The name is a reference to heat generated by the French ingredients and has no relation to any heat generated by similarly named human celebrities of esteemed hotel lineage.
Paris Is Burning should be warm, but absolutely not hot. Bartenders who have access to cappuccino machines heat the brandy with the steam from the machine, but an old-fashioned brandy warmer or a saucepan on the stovetop will also do. The Regans suggest using a microwave oven for 20 seconds.