How to Flame an Orange Zest

Used correctly, fire can entice and enhance flavors that do not exist without it. In this episode Jamie uses a flame to caramelize the oils and sugars expressed from the rind of and orange imparting a whole new dimension of flavor to the cocktail.


Dinah (MetaGrrrl/Bibulous) 18 Mar 2009
9:03 am

For someone who’s a non-smoker, non-professional-bartender, an alternative to owning a lighter is to use a toothpick lit on a candle.

I find the toothpick vastly preferable to the use of a match because it avoids all the smells & flavors the match chemicals add.

blair frodelius 19 Mar 2009
12:33 pm


Thanks for pointing out that the zest needs to be pre-warmed before flaming!  This helps achieve the desired effect readily. 

Would there ever be a time when you might add the zest to the drink post flaming?

Also, the tool I’ve found to cut awesome orange peel zests is a German made potato peeler like this:

It creates the perfect lemon peel for a Brandy Crusta as well.


Blair Frodelius

eddie delisio 17 Jan 2010
8:25 am

Warming the peel from the inside works well for me…that way the oils are released from the inside and not burnt until expressed.

Michael 19 Jan 2010
10:31 am

Can anyone tell me a drink in which flamed orange zest would be appealing? I am a huge “Old Fashioned” fan. It is my nightly cocktail. I have never gone the extra step of flaming the orange zest. Is this a cocktail that would usually get a flamed orange zest, or would I be deviling tradition?

Robert Hess 19 Jan 2010
11:46 am

Of course one of the most noteable “flamed orange peel” cocktails would be the “Flame Of Love”, a drink created for Dean Martin at Chasen’s in Hollywood. You can read more about it here:

Using a flamed orange peel for an Old Fashioned is non-traditional, but then so is the muddled orange that so many other bartenders use. I’ve been trying to promote the use of a flamed orange peel just so as to provide incentive for not doing the muddled orange mess.

Sam Gabrielli 10 Dec 2011
4:00 am

Jamie, what kind of lighter do you use?  It looks like an old Jet lighter, I hate using matches and I feel that if I were to use my Zippo I would have no choice but to sack myself.  Excellent stuff here.

merry alex 16 Feb 2014
6:34 am

The first day I tried to flame something in a bar, a stern senior bartender with a moustache gave me a thorough talking to. He expounded upon the evils of lighters, chemicals and butane. Ever since then I have wondered…. was he right?
I’ve heard everyone swear by different things.

Is it okay to use lighters for igniting alcohol or flaming? Do the chemicals really permeate the drink?
(Is it a matter of degree, acceptable for some bold drinks but not others?)

Do blow torches have similar effects?

Sincerely, a confused rookie.

Jamie Boudreau 19 Feb 2014
7:39 pm

Mery alex:

I’ve used lighters and torches all my career. Matches should not be used in my opinion, due to the strong sulphur smell that affects the whole room. Make a cocktail using a flamed zest via lighter. Does it taste good? If the answer is yes: keep doing it that way.

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