Cafe brulot is a citrus and booze-infused coffee that will transport you to the jazz bars of New Orleans.
I was 18 when I first went to New Orleans. It was too young. My friend Ed and I were travelling across the States in a clapped-out purple Volvo, bought from an ex-policeman in a dusty car lot just outside New York. It didn't have air conditioning, and there was a large, rusty hole in the floor through which you could see the road rushing by. We called it Purple Haze after the Jimmy Hendrix song. Yeah! Roaring south along interstate 95 was exhilarating. In South Carolina I bought a cowboy hat and a pair of Ray-Bans. We thought we were cool. (Bafflingly, this was not a view shared by the local ladies.)
In New Orleans, though, it became impossible to maintain the fantasy. For one thing, it's hard to get into a funky state of mind when you're camping on a bleak hill-top plot 20 miles outside the city. On our first night there was a thunderstorm, which flattened the tent completely. It was very hot and very wet and we lay there sweating like two slices of bacon in a vacuum pack.
The next day we squeezed out and got a bus into town. We were bedraggled and musty. No one believed our ID. We peered into bars and restaurants longingly, like the down-and-out Dan Ackroyd in Trading Places. People stared back at us. We retreated to our campsite. I never went back and I feel sad that I haven't experienced the kind of bohemian encounter the city is famed for.
It is the New Orleans jazz festival this weekend and one of my great heroes, Roy Ayers, is playing. So tonight I'll slip his Poo Poo La La on to the stereo and make this classic New Orleans tipple for my wife and me. As Roy says in the song: "Chicks trip on stuff like that."
Make your own cafe brulot
Peel from ½ orange, cut into thin strips
Peel fron ¼ lemon, cut into thin strips
2 tbsp sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
500ml freshly brewed hot coffee
1 Place the peel, sugar, spices and booze in a medium-size pan and warm over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
2 Tilt the pan off the heat and ignite. When the flames subside, add the coffee.
3 Ladle into small cups and serve immediately.
• Recipe by Jane Baxter and Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the healthy fast-food restaurant chain Leon (@henry_leon)
Cafe brulot, a classic New Orleans pick-me-up. Photograph: Tricia De Courcy Ling for the Guardian