Techniques

How to Make the Famous Café Brûlot from Arnaud's

A man pouring coffee into a bowl.
Arnaud's Café Brûlot, a signature after dinner drink that means "burnt brandy," is as much about showmanship as it is about fabulous taste. Photos by Josh Brasted.

It's no surprise that at Arnaud's in New Orleans, the signature after dinner drink is as much an exhibition as it is an exquisite cocktail. Café Brûlot means "burnt brandy," and the folks at Arnaud's don't disappoint on the open flame front — they set brandy and Curaçao on fire and ladle the flaming liquid ceremoniously over a spiraling orange peel. Finish your meal with a cocktail and a show. Charles Abbyad, long-time maître d' at Arnaud's, shows us how.

Ingredients:

  • 1 two-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 tablespoons slivered or grated orange peel
  • ¼ cup slivered or grated lemon peel
  • 3 sugar cubes (or roughly a tablespoon)
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 2 tablespoons Curaçao, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
  • 3 cups hot, strong black coffee
  • 1 long fireplace match

A man peeling an orange.

Peel a lemon, cut the peel into slivers and add the peel to the bowl.

A man peeling an orange.

Peel an orange halfway, in a continuous curl that remains attached to the orange.

A man pushing cloves into an orange peel.

Stud the orange peel with cloves in a cross pattern, pressing cloves about an inch apart.

A man adding cinnamon to a bowl.

In a copper Brûlot bowl or chafing dish, combine the cinnamon, cloves and citrus peels. Place the bowl over medium heat. Using the back of a large ladle, crush the spices and peels together.

A person pouring brandy into a ladle.

Remove the bowl from the burner. Add the brandy and Curaçao to the ladle.

A man pouring brandy into a ladle.

Light the liquids in the ladle with a long match.

A man pouring flaming brandy from a ladle.

Using a ladle, pour the flaming brandy down the orange spiral and into the bowl.

A man pouring coffee into a bowl.

As the flames are beginning to fade, slowly add the three cups of hot black coffee.

A man pouring sugar into a bowl.

Add sugar to the mixture.

A man adding sugar to a punch bowl.

Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar.

A man putting lemon peel into a cup.
Add a piece of lemon peel to each Brûlot cup before pouring the cocktail.

A man ladling a cocktail into a small cup.

Using a straining ladle, pour Café Brûlot into Brûlot or demitasse cups, excluding spices and citrus peels. Serve immediately.

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