The Unknown Soldier
This theatrical after-dinner cocktail from Simon Hopkinson's latest book Simon Hopkinson Cooks strikes me as the perfect Bonfire Night cocktail once you've put the kids to bed - or indeed for any winter evening you want to show off.
Simon says "I learnt this cocktail from watching TV chef Graham Kerr [aka The Galloping Gourmet] who was a real showman and a very early influence on my cooking career. Paired with candied oranges* this flaming drink makes a wonderful end to a special dinner."
MAKES 2 DRINKS
NOTE: YOU WILL NEED TWO FORKS, TWO 50ML LIQUEUR GLASSES AND ONE MATCH.
2 small white sugar lumps
Pour the vodka and Cointreau into two glasses that have previously been heated with boiling water; this will help the alcohols to ignite. Dim the room lights and silence any guests. Have ready one lump of sugar balanced on the tines of a fork, then light the first drink with a match. Suspend the fork over the flame and allow the sugar lump to melt and drip into the drink below.
Now, this is the really special moment. As the melting sugar hits the liquid, it causes 'small explosions...' which sound '...like a distant rifle.' And it is true, they absolutely do! Also, once the flame has been extinguished, the 'Little "bullets" of caramelised sugar...' have further turned the drink a '...deep caramel colour...' and with '...an aroma of burnt orange.'
Leave to cool a little before drinking...
* You can find the recipe for candied oranges on Simon's website. I suspect some shop-bought chocolate-covered orange peel would be pretty delicious too.
The recipe comes from Simon Hopkinson Cooks (Ebury Press, £25)
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