Stirred and Shaken

The dark wood bar reaches all the way to the ceiling, while the floor is covered with tiny white octagonal tiles. Each of the booths has a brass coat hook. The elegant, old-fashioned look of the barroom at McCormick & Schmick's [1151 Uptown Park Boulevard, (713)840-7900] reminds me of another vintage bar in the seafood chain's hometown of Portland, Oregon. It looks like a tribute to Huber's, a century-old watering hole that used to give away a free turkey sandwich with every beer. You can still get a turkey sandwich at Huber's, but nowadays the place is more famous for its after-dinner drink called Spanish coffee.

McCormick & Schmick's Spanish coffee: Spanish coffee isn't just a drink; it's a performance piece. The rum shoots blue flames, and the cinnamon is added in a sparkle of fireworks. I once asked the bartender at Huber's why the drink was set afire. "Well, it crystallizes the sugar on the rim," he said. "But mainly it's for show." Thanks to the sale of Spanish coffees, Huber's was the largest buyer of Kahlúa in the United States a few years ago.

1 shot 151 rum
1/2 shot Cointreau
1 shot Kahlúa
Lightly whipped cream

Wet the rim of an Irish coffee glass and dip it in sugar. Pour in the 151 rum and carefully light it on fire. Rotate the glass to caramelize the sugar. From high above the glass, add a dash of cinnamon and another of nutmeg so the spices sparkle in the flame. Add the Cointreau, then the Kahlúa, then fill the glass with coffee. The flame is supposed to keep going until you extinguish it with a spoonful of cream.


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