The folks behind Fireball whiskey are in damage-control mode after European countries issued a recall. Food-grade propylene glycol is safe for consumption, according to the FDA. But that didn't stop Norway, Sweden and Finland from pulling their product from the shelves, as false rumors spread that Fireball is actually made with automobile fluids. (Industrial grade propylene glycol is used in some anti-freezes.)
For now, Fireball is still going down smoothly in the States, which has different standards for the amount of food grade propylene glycol allowed in products. But beware, Fireball fans, of Food Babe. She's attacked Kraft because of their use of artificial dyes, skewered Subway because their rolls were made from yoga mats, and even attacked Budweiser when they refused to release the ingredients in her beer. Food Babe, otherwise known as Vani Hari, has proven successful with the largest corporations; if she sets her sights on Fireball, all bets are off.
Just in case Fireball is removed from the shelves here in Dallas, I decided to call Gabe Sanchez, owner and chief drink master at Black Swan Saloon, to see if Fireball could be made at home without propylene glycol. Sanchez is known for the apothecary of infusions that line the back wall of his bar. He immediately said it was a simple concoction. "If you can open a bottle you can do it," he said.
Here's the recipe he gave me:
1 liter bottle of bourbon whiskey
1 cup Red Hots cinnamon candy
4 ATOMIC FireBall Jawbreaker Candy, smashed
Dump all ingredients into a large mason jar. Shake, place the jar in the freezer and wait for a day. Serve in excess.
Actually, serve carefully. Sanchez told me that this version is stronger than the Fireball you get on the shelf, which runs around 60 proof. Depending on the bourbon you use, you can make this stuff pretty hot. What kind's best?
"Whatever you've got at home," he said, but noted there's no point in splurging for the good stuff because Red No. 40 and artificial flavors will blow away any nuances in the whiskey, anyway. Leave that Pappy Van Winkle in the back of your liquor cabinet and pick up some of the cheap stuff. Oh, and one more thing,
"Whatever you do, don't get it on your Sunday whites," Sanchez warned. "That red ain't coming out, trust me."