Once relegated to winter, smoked cocktails are making a summertime comeback – and here at the Sipsmith Distillery we’re certainly not complaining.
This is the ideal time of year to nurse a smoke-infused cocktail. Or, even better, to learn to mix up your own. Happily, there are a number of methods for adding that distinctly kindled flavour to your cocktail serves. From smoky ingredients and spirits to high-tech smoking guns, explore these five options when making your next dram.
This method of making smoked cocktails is as straightforward as it is visually impressive. Simply fill your glass with smoke before pouring in your pre-mixed cocktail, and you’ll be promised a lingering whisper of smoky flavour. Begin by choosing your flammable materials, whether you’re using wood shavings, herbs and spices (rosemary or cinnamon are worth experimenting with), or tea leaves. Place a small pile on a piece of foil and set two chopsticks on either side, so you can pose your glass over the smoking ingredients without depriving them of the oxygen needed to burn.
Just before setting your ingredients alight, prepare your cocktail. Now, light your ingredients until they’re smoking and place your glass on the chopsticks until it fills with smoke. Flip it over and quickly strain in the prepared cocktail. Et voila!
If you’re a home bartender who’s invested in some impressive kit, then you might want to add a smoking gun to your collection. This handheld, ergonomic little device just needs to be filled with wood chips or shavings, which are then ignited. It pumps big, beautiful plumes of smoke with ease: you can smoke your glass (as above) with this tool, or use it to directly infuse your prepared cocktail or spirits. See an example of that step-by-step process here.
This is the ideal time of year to nurse a smoke-infused cocktail.
If the Michelin-starred chef Grant Achatz uses smoked ice in his cocktails, there’s no reason you shouldn’t also give it a try: this transformative method ensures that, as your drink dilutes, it also grows smokier in flavour.
Though a professional smoker is the fastest way to make smoked ice, home bartenders need only a roasting tray, wood chips, and ice to achieve a similar effect. Brush up with this introductory primer.
Of course, one of the simplest ways to add smoke in your cocktails is by using ingredients that already have a smoky quality (for those who are nervous around matches or don’t want to invest in a smoking gun, this method is also entirely flame-free).
Fancy a smoky cocktail with a bit of heat? A dash of chipotle will add both smoke and spice (save this ingredient for your next Red Snapper or Bloody Mary). Lapsang souchong tea is another naturally smoky ingredient that can be used in cocktails (try out a 1:1 lapsang souchong simple syrup). Some daring souls even experiment with adding liquid smoke to their cocktails, though given its potency, be sure to begin with scant amounts.
One of the simplest ways to add smoke in your cocktails is by using ingredients that already have a smoky quality.
Of course, smoky ingredients go beyond chilli and tea. If you’re making smoked cocktails at home, don’t overlook the opportunity to experiment with spirits known for their bonfire-like flavour profiles. A good, peaty Islay scotch is an obvious choice, particularly if you plan to shake up a Smoky Martini.
And don’t stop there. This is also the perfect excuse to do some creative mixing with mescal, tequila’s swarthier, smokier cousin. Our curiosity is certainly piqued by this recipe, which mingles mescal with sloe gin. Cheers!