How to set a bar on fire.
April 3, 2013 12:46 PM   Subscribe

And for this, Billy recommends Ronsonol lighter fluid.

Oh god.

Drunk people and burning liquids do not mix. You ever see someone try to put out a flaming shot by blowing on it really fucking hard.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:54 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

That doesn't mean I don't want to see it though.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:55 PM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

Back in my college days, I used to drink at a bar in New Orleans called The Gold Mine. They had a drink called "The Flaming Dr Pepper." It was one of those drop-a-flaming-shot-into-a-beer drinks and then you'd slam it down, the payoff being that it tasted somewhat like a Dr Pepper going down. So, one night, after many, many of those, I approached the bar and ordered another. When they placed the flaming shot into my hands, instead of dropping it into the beer, I flung it down the length of the bar, igniting a lovely blue flame about ten feet long. I didn't get to admire it for long, as the next thing I knew, my feet were over my head and I was travelling backwards over the crowd. I landed harshly on the street outside, where my girlfriend found me giggling several minutes later.

(on a recent nostalgic trip to the French Quarter, I peeked my head into The Gold Mine. Same stale smell of pee, same songs on the jukebox, same drink specials. Though I was told that you are no longer allowed to drop your own shot into your Flaming Dr Pepper. I'd like to think that was partially my fault.)
posted by ColdChef at 12:55 PM on April 3, 2013 [37 favorites]

Stupid bartenders, drunk people and fire.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:56 PM on April 3, 2013

fire fire fire fire
posted by exogenous at 12:57 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Without Lighting the Bar on Fire)

Lame. I was hoping for advice of a different kind.
posted by snottydick at 12:58 PM on April 3, 2013

I have never set a bar on fire, but shortly after discovering alcohol I also realized alcohol burns. One day, I poured a shot of something high proof in to a nice etched rocks glass, lit it on fire, and was admiring the barely visible flame when POP the glass separated in half, the top part jumped a couple inches in the air and and came to rest back on the base of the glass.

I stopped lighting my drinks on fire after that.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:00 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I can't abide amateur hour at the pyrotechnics lab. It's not safe and I'm not stupid.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:01 PM on April 3, 2013 [9 favorites]

I have mixed feelings about this.
On the one hand I just want my bartender to bring me a drink when I need one and be reasonably civil. No need for Coyote Ugly, circus tricks, etc.
On the other hand I do appreciate the complete disregard for common sense displayed in both the activity itself and in the linked blog post.
posted by zoinks at 1:04 PM on April 3, 2013 [11 favorites]

What it says on the tin.

Ugh, twice in one day?
posted by mrnutty at 1:06 PM on April 3, 2013 [17 favorites]

I bet their insurers are just ecstatic about this.
posted by unSane at 1:06 PM on April 3, 2013

Did I ever tell you about the time Brasky took me out to go get a drink with him? We go off lookin' for a bar and we can't find one. Finally, Brasky takes me into a vacant lot and says, "Here we are!" Well, we sat there for a year and a half. Sure enough, someone constructed a bar around us! Well, the day they opened it, we ordered a shot, drank it and then burnt the place to the ground. Brasky yelled over the roar of the flames, "Always leave things the way you found them!"
posted by entropicamericana at 1:09 PM on April 3, 2013 [27 favorites]

A few things I take for granted when I sit down at my local bar(s):
-The beer will be cold, or room temperature if its cask-conditioned
-The Bulls game will be on one of the televisions.
-My view of said television will not be obstructed by flames.

Also, I think we've reached peak tin today.
posted by obscurator at 1:14 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Blasphemy. Putting perfectly good alcohol to the flame - setting the Temple on fire - this the Devil's work. All you sinners repent.
posted by three blind mice at 1:14 PM on April 3, 2013

I lost my eyebrows once due to alcohol related pyrotechnics. Whilst I appreciated my reduced drag coefficient, it was not repeated.
posted by arcticseal at 1:22 PM on April 3, 2013

One time we were at a bar like this and bought a friend a flaming shot and he drank it. No idea you were supposed to put it out first.
posted by fshgrl at 1:25 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I was trying to find out how to set monks on fire and ended up at this link...
posted by varion at 1:25 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

And I get nervous lighting the cognac in my beef bourguignon, yikes.
posted by The Whelk at 1:30 PM on April 3, 2013

Properly lighting the bar on fire is the logical extension of any good bartender's bag of tricks—a combination of showmanship, professionalism and a little bit of danger.
Thanks, but if I wanted to watch someone perform tricks, I'd visit the circus. I'll take craftsmanship and the ability to mix a good drink over bottle juggling and squirting lighter fluid onto the bar. </curmudgeon>
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 1:32 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Billy Agan is in my kitchen, drinking a margarita and fiddling with a butterfly knife. He's here to talk about lighting bars on fire.

'Nuff said.
posted by Splunge at 1:34 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

And for this, Billy recommends Ronsonol lighter fluid.

Ronsonol is nasty stuff. Real aficionados of setting shit on fire use the Zippo brand, which doesn't smell as bad.
posted by neckro23 at 1:36 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can't wait to try this at home ;)

Can't wait for you to try this at your home, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:36 PM on April 3, 2013

I'll settle my tab now, thanks.
posted by scratch at 1:37 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks, but if I wanted to watch someone perform tricks, I'd visit the circus.


I remember attending a wedding reception at a fancy venue with a fancy bartender who insisted on doing "flair bartending". We all stood around impatiently waiting to be served while he performed his tricks. I leaned in and gave him a 20 and told him if he wanted to see any more tips like that from this crowd the only trick he needed was to keep the alcohol pouring faster than we could drink it. Apparently not getting the message, he lit the 20 on fire and then extinguished it in his mouth (or somehow else, I can't quite remember). He paused for reaction/applause. Awkward silence from the crowd around the bar. He gave up and set out a row of a dozen shot glasses and poured the vodka.
posted by Kabanos at 1:37 PM on April 3, 2013 [19 favorites]

"Ugh, twice in one day?"

heh... you turn off the titles and you take your chances..... :)
posted by HuronBob at 1:44 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm just going to assume that link is to a trailer for the long-awaited Coyote Ugly 2: Cosplay & Corsets. So no, I won't be clicking on that.
posted by Fizz at 1:53 PM on April 3, 2013

These guys can call me back after they spend a weekend over on the Hill at Grandfather Mountain during the Highland Games.

There was a Greek place in Atlanta years ago that used to serve Saganaki fried cheese in a signature manner. They would compete between servers who could make the flame go highest, usually with a loud cry of OPA! as a flame shot towards the drop tiles 15 feet above. There were always a large number of black spots on those tiles.

I always wondered how they kept from setting off the sprinklers, until one night I observed that there were none. I never went back.
posted by strixus at 1:55 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

ColdChef, I have tended bar at the Goldmine, and served the Flaming Dr. Pepper. They shoukd really call it the Flaming Bartender, since making half a dozen of them in a hurry usually means getting burni g Everclear all over your hands and the bar (which is not a disaster, you just give your hands a quick wipe and it goes out). They do not let patrons drop their own shots anymore.

I have also worked security there, and helped to throw out the people who insist on doing things like starting fights, throwing drinks, falling asleep, or taking off their clothes. You also can't wear a baseball cap, for some reason.

It is probably exactly the same as you remember, right down to the playlist and some of the patrons. More of the videogames are broken now than probably were in your day, though. Also it's insanely loud and the management is known to steal tips from their bartenders. Worst job I've ever had, actually.

They do have a really nice poetry reading on Thursday evenings, though -- usually a substantial reading by a featured poet, followed by an open mic which consists mostly of a rotating crew of local poets, many of whom are quite good and also very interesting people. It's always amusing to watch people stumble into that expecting to find a rowdy dance club, not having realized that it's only really "open" on weekends.
posted by Scientist at 1:57 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

John Law Burned Down the Liquor Store

You also can't wear a baseball cap, for some reason.

If they have fresh squeezed fruit juice in the drinks it's probably my wife's new favorite bar.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:04 PM on April 3, 2013

I remember playing around with matches and lighter fluid as a (typically stupid and invulnerable-feeling) teenager. For all that it's a dumb thing to do that could easily get out of hand in the wrong circumstances, it did amaze me the things you could spray burning lighter fluid onto without them suffering any visible harm.
posted by yoink at 2:29 PM on April 3, 2013

When the bartender lights the bar on fire it is a sure indication that you are in a douchebag bar. This means that you are certain to be dangerously crowded on all sides by douchebags. Pay your tab immediately, proceed with caution to the nearest exit and never darken the door of that den of douchebaggery again.
posted by slkinsey at 2:30 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

Bar managers everywhere have something else to worry about. Also, don't do this.
posted by resurrexit at 2:31 PM on April 3, 2013

Seriously, slkinsey--how man bar fires with bodies stacked in the doorways do we need to have before people learn that fire in a bar is not good?
posted by resurrexit at 2:32 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

About 8 years ago, I accidentally set fire to the bar at Bob & Barbara's in Philly. All it took was a few flaming sambuca shots that I'd lit unbeknownst to the bar tender, trying to impress some friends.

Don't try to blow out a flaming shot. (there might be 1 person here who is dumber than I am)
posted by nikoniko at 2:33 PM on April 3, 2013

posted by rikschell at 2:38 PM on April 3, 2013

youtube search for "flaming shot" is terrifying.

Darwin died too early....
posted by HuronBob at 2:44 PM on April 3, 2013

Yeah, there are a few hard and fast rules for a serious bar patron and somewhere near the top are "don't blow on flaming shots, set something on top of them to put them out", and "don't eat nuts, popcorn, or really any kind of bar snack people tend to dig their hands through, out of the bowls on the bar". You might want to throw "If you are paying with a credit card, tip with cash anyway" on there too.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:51 PM on April 3, 2013

Yeah, I came here to post a link to that fire with 3rd degree burns but Muddler beat me to it. I did some research in the county court database and eventually found public links to the legal consequences of this stupid stunt:

Student burned in bar stunt wins $1.3M

A jury awarded more than $1.3 million in damages to a former University of Iowa student who was burned when a fiery bar stunt flamed out of control.

The Johnson County jury also awarded Deanine Busche, 23, $275,000 in punitive damages for injuries she suffered in the April 2002 fire at Et Cetera, a popular downtown club among college students.

Busche, of Schaumburg, suffered burns on her face, arms and neck. She was one of seven people burned or injured when bartender Troy Kline ignited high-proof alcohol poured in the stainless steel bar well.

Busche testified that as the flames died down, Kline added more liquor, creating a fireball that caused second- and third-degree burns over 13 percent of her body.

Do you see what happened? The spectacle of a fire wasn't big enough, the asshole threw MORE ALCOHOL on the fire, and splashed it all over an innocent bystander. Result: $1.3 million in damages plus another $275k in punitive damages.

MEANWHILE, the asshole that did this stunt admitted he threw more alcohol on the fire, but was sentenced to no jail time.

Bartender avoids jail for fire stunt

3 area women among 6 burned at Iowa tavern

A former bartender who performed a bar stunt last year that burned at least six people--including three northwest suburban women--at a popular University of Iowa haunt pleaded guilty Monday to reckless use of fire, according to the Johnson County, Iowa, prosecutor.

Troy Kline, 27, who worked at Et Cetera in Iowa City, acknowledged that he ignited a fire on the bar April 18, 2002. He admitted fueling the fire with grain alcohol but denied his actions were knowingly reckless, said J. Patrick White, the Johnson County attorney.

Kline was placed on unsupervised probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. But with the plea he avoids jail time, and the conviction can be expunged after one year if he avoids legal trouble.

White said that Kline made a brief statement in court Monday in which he apologized.

Deanine Busche, 21, of Schaumburg; Amy Shah, 21, of Palatine; and Tina Georganas, 21, of Park Ridge were among the people who were burned in the bar, White said.

Kline reportedly poured alcohol onto the bar and ignited it. It was a stunt that witnesses had seen him do at least six other times, White said, but the trick went awry and flames leaped onto nearby customers.

Busche received the most serious injuries: second- and third-degree burns on her neck and face, said her attorney, Tom Riley of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said Busche will need more treatment for her burns and has left the University of Iowa.

"It was a devastating thing for Deanine," said Riley, who also represents Shah. "This ruined college for her."

This guy burned a woman and disfigured her, and she dropped out of college. A stupid stunt like this ruined someone's life. It should have ruined the life of the guy who did it. But he got off with a slap on the wrist.

Do you get it? DO NOT DO THIS STUPID STUNT. If you do, you deserve to go to jail.

I am ashamed that MeFi would republish this article, which is an incitement to maim and disfigure people with fire. Moderators, please take this post down.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:19 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

I remember my friend and I, after a few too many, using Ronsonol on a table, then on our pants legs, and when I lit my pants leg, it was FUCKING HOT. He was in the process of pouring lighter fluid on his hand, which I dutifully lit with a lighter.

Poof! Just like the Human Torch, his hand went up. His first reaction was to wave his hand furiously, which almost worked, except for that little bit of flame...Poof! His hand was on fire for about 5 seconds. Long enough for 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

When I stopped laughing so hard I almost peed my pants, I helped him to get his hand in ice water ASAP (he was going to use butter, lucky I was there). That was a memorable night.

That much Ronsonol on the bar must melt the lacquer, and really, near those drunk people, 30 seconds of 6-inch flames is a bit much.
posted by Chuffy at 3:19 PM on April 3, 2013

Reckless endangerment is fun.

There are plenty of bars in the world that would never do this, where you can sulk in the corner nursing a pint of microbrew and reading James Joyce until the wee hours of the morning.

But sometimes you gotta go all out, set things on fire, hook up with your best friend's ex, beat some one up/get beat up, loose a tooth, and/or wake up the next morning in an unfamiliar place with what appears to be a Sudanese hooker.

I don't want to live in a world where people always think about how their dad the fire marshall would feel about something before diving in and doing it.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 3:25 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

I've seen this done at one of my after-work joints when someone buys a round of shots of the Bar. Which is why I drink at the stools closest to the front door.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:39 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't want to live in a world where people always think about how their dad the fire marshall would feel about something before diving in and doing it.

I don't want to live in a world where I might unexpectedly see a woman's burning flesh melting off her face, and then realize I am also on fire.

What you really ought to consider is how your ex-girlfriend's dad, the District Attorney, would feel about something you talked her into.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:46 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just looked at the photos in that article.

That IS where I go for a drink after work. The Ruby Room in Oakland, 14th st across from the Library main branch.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:47 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore is rolling over in his grave.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 3:56 PM on April 3, 2013

I attended Iowa when the Et Cetera fire happened. Please don't set the damn bar on fire. Geez.
posted by dirigibleman at 4:44 PM on April 3, 2013

I remember very clearly the first time I watched someone set fire to a bar, because it was the first time I realized how much of bar tending has nothing to do with drink making

Bartending has very much to do with drink making. It's one of the main things you are supposed to be able to do. It is right in the job description. The best bartenders I know know how to make a staggering list of drinks very quickly and very well, or to discuss at length the qualities of various beers, wines, and liquors. There are non drink related skills, involving handling money, taking orders from a large number of people in a loud environment and an uncanny memory for what people like to drink, knowing when to cut people off and how to do so diplomatically, etc.

None of those things involve setting a bar on fire.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:46 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I always thought people who burned themselves with lighter fluid were stupid, preferring to immolate my hands with rubbing alcohol. Also stupid. I would avoid these douche bars myself and don't buy the "I don't want to live in a world without stupid fire danger in bars" credo for a second
posted by lordaych at 7:18 PM on April 3, 2013

No-one's mentioned creamer fuel-air bombs?
posted by notsnot at 7:35 PM on April 3, 2013

> creamer fuel-air bombs?


What manner of amateur-hour small-scale pub-arson is this? Have you no pride? Do your mighty ancestors look down, ashamed, from on high, while you squander your inheritance? Do no plumes of THICK, BLACK SMOKE rise to the heavens carrying the heavy scent of BURNT OFFERINGS?

I give to you, O Metafilter, a tale of my alma mater.
posted by sourcequench at 9:10 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I missed the "how to" part of this, namely what should be the safest way to do so. All this article says is "use lighter fluid" and "use a lighter, not matches." Huh? What the fuck is this, let's all pretend fire isn't dangerous day? There are any number of youtube videos of idiots who think they are smarter than fire. Fire, being part of nature, always has the upper hand.

Bartenders, be cool in some other way. Rip phonebooks or recite Shakespeare or something. This is fucking dumb.
posted by zardoz at 12:09 AM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Agreed, this is really stupid.

So! For those who don't like the tin references, alternative title suggestions:

I don't want to set the world on fire ... I just want to start a flame in your heart bar.

Setting the bar higher on fire.

1. Light fire
2. Burn down Bar
3. ...Profit!

Bar None (see what I did there?)

How to Piss off Drunk Frankenstein (Fire

Bartenders: How to Get Fired

This is fun!
posted by misha at 7:44 AM on April 4, 2013

Burns Night
posted by unSane at 7:56 AM on April 4, 2013


Radio, just off B'way downtown, is the other Oakland bar i've seen do this.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:41 AM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Moderators, please take this post down.

One morning in June some twenty years ago ... !

This is fucking dumb.

Don't be a buster!
posted by mrgrimm at 1:40 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

One evening in February some twenty years ago

R.I. Nightclub fire kills 100

In particular look at timecode 2:00 in the video. The camera gets close to the front door. Smoke is billowing out, and people are crushed in the doorway, unable to move, and reaching out for help. They all died.


245 die in Brazil nightclub fire. Not quite two months ago, Jan 17, 2012.

posted by charlie don't surf at 9:17 PM on April 4, 2013

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