Make Your Own Fireball Whisky

Churchkey's Eric Rodriguez mixes a batch of Grandpapa Reusch Ol’ Time Fireball Style Whiskey. Credit: Courtesy Churchkey / Marissa Bialecki

Long before Fireball Whisky made the news for its potentially toxic ingredient, Washington D.C.'s venerable Churchkey bar was already serving its own spicy, cinnamon-infused liquor, Grandpapa Reusch Ol’ Time Fireball Style Whiskey. 

The Churchkey General Manager honored by the pepper-tinged spirit, Ian Reusch, says the house Fireball was created in response to the restaurant's no-junk, farm-to-table mentality.

"We bring in as few artificial things as possible," says Reusch. "At the bar, no Goldschläger, no Jägermeister, and no Fireball, but people were asking for it. We figured, why buy something full of artificial ingredients if we can make it natural?"

Executive chef Kyle Bailey and bar systems manager Eric Rodriguez developed the recipe using their kitchen's own chili oil, raw sugar, a teabag of cinnamon sticks, and Evan William bourbon.

"Evan William ages in beautifully toasted barrels," Reusch says, "which bring a sweet component that the sugar enhances and the chili complements."

Reusch shared the recipe for his eponymous Fireball so you can make your own chemical-free spiced whiskey.

Ingredients: 
1 Bottle of Evans William Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
8-10 cinnamon sticks
1/3 cup of raw sugar  

Chili oil:
1 Tablespoon chili flakes
1/2 Tablespoon of vegetable oil  

Instructions: 
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. Put the bag into the pitcher of whiskey to steep. 

3. Stir in the raw sugar. Let the whiskey and cinnamon teabag steep for up to eight days. 

4. 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 five minutes. Remove from heat and allow the oil to cool completely before straining it through a fine mesh sieve and transferring to a squeeze bottle. 

5. Remove the cinnamon tea bag from the whiskey. Stir in two drops of the chili oil. 

6. Taste and adjust the level of chili oil to your liking. 

7. Return the flavored whiskey to a bottle that can be tightly sealed. The spiced whiskey can be kept for three to six months and is great served straight, on the rocks, or combined with your favorite soda.