If you haven’t heard of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, you haven’t been partying hard enough recently. The flavored spirit—which recalls the spicy sweetness of an Atomic Fireball candy—is the breakout star of the booze world, surpassing Jose Cuervo tequila and closing in on the ultimate king of the shots scene, Jaegermeister. (To give you a sense of Fireball’s meteoric rise, it grew from $1.9 million in sales in 2011 to $61 million in 2013.)
It’s a favorite of college kids and dive-bar guzzlers everywhere, but it has also gained a surprising following in the bartender community, where its an effective shut-up-and-have-fun antidote to the increasingly self-serious mixology scene.
At ChurchKey in Washington, D.C., the bar staff loves it so much that they make their own DIY Fireball using Evan Williams bourbon, chili flakes, and real cinnamon sticks. Like homemade Twix or from-scratch Phrosties, it maintains all of the lowbrow appeal you’re looking for, while allowing for some customization of spice-level and ingredients.
Since homemade Fireball sounds like the ultimate party-starter, we asked the ChurchKey bartenders to share their secrets with us. Happily, they were
drunk enough generous enough to oblige:
ChurchKey’s Grandpapa Reusch* Ol’ Time Fireball Style Whiskey
* Our in-house fireball is always named after our current general manager (right now: Ian Reusch).
Ingredients for whiskey
- 1 bottle of Evans William Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 8-10 cinnamon sticks
- ⅓ cup of raw sugar
Ingredients for chili oil
- 1 tbsp chili flakes
- ½ tbsp of vegetable oil
1. Pour one bottle of Evan Williams bourbon into a large container or pitcher.
2. Wrap the cinnamon sticks in cheesecloth to create a tea bag.
3. Put the cinnamon tea bag into the pitcher of whiskey to steep.
4. Stir in the raw sugar. Let the whiskey and cinnamon tea bag steep for up to 7-8 days.
4. To make the chili oil: In a small nonstick pan, stir together chili flakes and vegetable oil. Gently warm the oil and chili flakes over low heat for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the oil to cool completely before straining it through a fine mesh sieve and transferring it to a squeeze bottle.
5. Remove the cinnamon tea bag from the whiskey. Return the flavored whiskey to a bottle that can be tightly sealed.
6. Stir in two drops of the chili oil. Taste and adjust the flavoring of the chili oil to your liking.
The flavored whiskey can be kept for 3-6 months and is great served straight, on the rocks, or combined with your favorite soda.