A History Lesson With Booze ®

The Great London Fire and The Blue Blazer

Here's how not to prevent one of the worst fires in history: First, build a city out of oak timber. Crowd all the houses together. Now, weatherproof them with flammable tar. Presto! A disaster waiting to happen

Londoners salvaging their belongings during the Great Fire of London, 2nd-5th September 1666. From Chamberlain's 'History Of London' (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The History Lesson

The Great Fire of London began when the King’s baker went to bed with his oven on. It wouldn’t have been so bad, if he didn’t live next to horse stables full of straw. And if the stables weren’t right next to warehouses full of lamp oil. But they were. Three days later, most of the city had been burned. The flames could be seen from 30 miles away.

Only 16 people died in the fire, no one knows how many died in the lynchings. Panicked Londoners figured foreigners had started the blaze. In fact, on the monument commemorating the fire, an inscription blamed the whole thing on Jesuit priests.

Meanwhile, London was rebuilt. This time, instead of oak they went with slightly less flammable bricks. But it was decades before they deployed full time fire stations.

And it wasn’t until 1986 that London bakers officially admitted that one of their own, you know, burned the city down and stuff.

The Booze

The Blue Blazer

Created in the 1800’s, the blue blazer is a rare drink – few people in the world actually make it. It requires high-proof Scotch and “Demerera,” a raw sugar from French Guyana. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand before you light up this recipe, as recounted by Reza Esmaili of Conduit restaurant in San Francisco.


  • 4 oz. cask-strength single-malt Scotch
  • In another silver-plated or pewter cup with a handle, add:
  • 4 oz. scalding hot water
  • 2 tsp. Demerera or brown sugar


In a silver-plated or pewter cup with a handle, ignite Scotch in cup #1. Pour into cup #2.

Continue pouring flaming liquid back and forth between cups, gradually increasing distance between cups to create ever-larger arc of fire. Continue as desired.

Pour into porcelain cup. EXTINGUISH FLAME. Add twist of lemon, serve scalding hot.

Episode: 4