(Last Updated On: March 28, 2022)

What could be better than a good cocktail with smoke in it? Absolutely nothing! Smoke can be used for more than just grilling. Traditional cocktail recipes can benefit from smoking in more ways than you may expect. Traditional cocktail recipes have been smoked by bartenders in recent years. Norton Christopher, owner of Sac-a-Lait in New Orleans, told Whiskey Advocate that the aroma of the cocktail excites the senses and deepens its flavor. There is a unique layering of notes and aromas in drinks resulting from smoking. By combining these things, you get a multisensory experience that you can enjoy in your own home. Here is what you need to know about smoking cocktails.

The Equipment

To smoke a cocktail, you don’t need an expensive smoking gun, however smoked old fashioned kit provides all. Choosing the right equipment depends on how much you want to invest and how much smoke you want to add. It is possible to create the same effect as a smoking gun by using a handheld torch and a wood plank (or other aromatic items such as tea or herbs).

The Process

Among the various ways to smoke your cocktail, you can smoke your glass, smoke the entire cocktail, or double-boil a large quantity. The flavors you want to achieve will determine the method. 

  • The lightest smoke flavor comes from rinsed glasses. As chilled items tend to stick better to smoke, it is a good idea to chill your glass first. Before pouring your cocktail into your glass, ignite whatever you’re smoking. If you are in this situation, you can use a blowtorch, but you should avoid lighter fluid since it can leave chemical residue. You can turn your glass upside down and let the smoke fill the interior and stick to it. After the smoke dissipates, you can put your cocktail in the glass. 
  • Smoke adds a stronger smoke flavor to the whole cocktail. To smoke-rinse a larger vessel, follow the same steps you used to smoke-rinse the glass. Once the vessel has been chilled, let it fill with smoke for a few minutes. When your cocktail has reached the desired level of smoke, pour it back into the vessel. In the first 30 seconds, the majority of the smoke flavor will be released. Inhale. 
  • When double-boiling, the flavor is the most intense. Light a wood chip fire and add the desired flavor to a smoker or grill. Put the liquid you wish to smoke in a pot or heat-resistant bowl, then place the pot or bowl inside another bowl filled with ice. The double boiler is created. Ice prevents the flavor from being tainted by heating. In order to allow the smoke to escape, double-boilers should be placed away from the flame. 

Smoking even ice cubes is possible! This little trick can add a surprising amount of flavor to your drink (Yes, really!). Smokiness is noticeable, but it does not overpower you.

The Recipe

Any cocktail can be enhanced with smoked flavors, but the best drinks are those with fewer ingredients and an emphasis on spirits. Smoke can overpower the subtleties of a drink. When stirring a drink, you can also smoke. Learn more by trying these whiskey and smoking cocktail combinations. 

  • Rye whiskey can be smoked using oak, cherry, or hickory wood chips. Rye whiskey’s spice notes make them a good match for these types of wood. 
  • Would corn husks work? Hulls of corn add a touch of sweetness and bring out the natural flavor of corn. 
  • Wheat bourbon and cinnamon go well together. Cinnamon adds a subtle sweetness to bourbon and lends a lighter smoke.
  • Corn whiskey and sweet go together like sweet and savory. With charred pecan wood, corn whiskey tastes great. The flavors are well balanced between sweetness and savory.
Written by Kathy Cooley