If you're a BBQ enthusiast, you know what the kiss of wood smoke does to food. I've got excellent news for you - smoked cocktails are amazing, too. You can use a smoking gun, your smoker, or some wood chips to get that delicious smoke flavor. I'll walk you through the whole process for each technique.
I love a stiff drink. The first time I had a smoked cocktail was at a local steakhouse. Their smoked old-fashioned was life-changing. I've been fiddling around with my own smoked cocktails ever since.
Grab the appropriate cocktail glass! Smoking cocktails is easy. Let the smoky flavors transform your favorite cocktail recipes. I'm going to show you the best-smoked cocktails (and recipes) for your bar cart. Cheers!
There are four main ways that people infuse smoke flavors into their cocktails. Let's take a quick look at each option.
This is my go-to method. It doesn't require extra equipment, it works for infusing smoke into any cocktail, and it gets the job done in a hurry.
There are a lot of fancy gizmos you can buy to do this. Don't waste your money. Here's what I do:
Note: if any ashes fall into your drink, scoop them out with a spoon. While I've been served drinks at restaurants that have wood still smoldering in the glass (and I've eaten a few hot dogs that had stray ash on them), it's probably best not to eat the ashes.
Alternatively, you can also just light the chips on a fire-proof surface and place an empty glass on top of them (upside down). This will get smokiness in your glass, and it'll make your drink taste smoky. Fix your cocktail and pour it into the smoked glass.
Fire up your smoker and smoke beverages on it. This is great for simple syrup, apple cider, maple syrup, and smoked bloody mary mix. I wouldn't put liquor on your smoker. You risk over-smoking your expensive booze.
You can also get a smoky flavor in ice cubes by smoking water on your smoker. Freeze smoked water in ice cube trays for smoked ice cubes, and you're ready to give any cocktail a smoky kick!
I smoke liquids for around 30 minutes at 225°F. Play around with time and temps to find your sweet spot.
A smoking gun works great if you prepare a lot of smoked drinks. Push a button, and it will light wood chips, causing smoke to come out of a tube. Put the tube in your cocktail glass, and you're smoking. The guns have a lid that goes on top of your cocktail glass to keep the smoke in.
These guns are quick and easy to use but can get expensive in a hurry. If you're looking to buy a smoking gun, this is the one I would grab.
If you dig the flavor of liquid smoke, use a dash or two to add some smoky flavor to your favorite cocktail. The flavor isn't for me, but if you like it, go nuts.
Enough about how to give cocktails a smoky twist. Let's get to crafting some smoky cocktails! Here are some of my absolute favorite recipes. Follow them to make the best-smoked cocktails!
The old-fashioned is one of the greatest cocktails known to humans. It's a delicious, classic cocktail. Add some smoke to the mix, and you've struck Kentucky gold. Use a high-proof bourbon (around 100 proof) for best results. I like Old Forester 100.
Use bourbon if you want a sweeter drink or rye whiskey for something more complex. Rye whiskey is traditional. A large ice cube makes for an elegant presentation if you've got a mold for one.
The rich flavors of a smoky Manhattan are a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Again, a high-proof whiskey works wonders for this cocktail. Warn your guests to sip slowly - this one's dangerous! The smokiness of this cocktail makes it the perfect drink in the fall.
Tequila is another spirit that really shines when smoked. Smoked margaritas are sure to get the party started on a hot summer day! You and your friends will be sipping in style if you make a batch.
Bloodies may be the ideal cocktail to add smoke to. They've got so much flavor already. Why not add some smoke to the mix? People love to get creative with bloody marys. Punch up this recipe with hot sauce, garlic powder, lemon juice, horseradish, or whatever other favorite fixing you've got. You can mix up the base spirit (vodka) and use gin, tequila, or whiskey.
Here's my go-to recipe, which will make your next brunch the best party on the block.
Oak and hickory wood chips are timeless choices. Wood chips made from used whiskey barrels (always oak) work beautifully, too.
If you use a fruitwood, you'll get a fruity sweetness. Apple, pecan, pear, and cherrywood chips are widely available, popular options.
Think about your drink. If your cocktail features apple cider, using applewood chips will give the drink perfect harmony.
Any spirit with a proof over 151 can sustain a flame. Keep very high-proof liquors clear from any open flame.
The wood chips you'll be smoking are small, so any risk of a fire is nominal. Still, be cautious. Fire and alcohol are a dangerous combo. Don't make a smoked cocktail if you've had too much to drink. Follow fire safety best practices, and only use a flame on flame-proof surfaces. Make the drinks in a well-ventilated area, and make sure the chips are fully extinguished before disposing of them.
Now you know how to smoke a cocktail just like the fancy cocktail bar down the street. Save some dough and do it at home. You don't even need a cocktail smoker to do it!
Most cocktails will benefit from a kick of smoke. Fiddle around and find your favorite smoked cocktail recipe! Bottoms up!