How to Make Smoked Cocktails at Home?
You can impress someone by starting a fire. Smoked cocktails are much more than just aesthetically pleasing-although they are definitely Instagrammable.
Ben Potts, bar manager and owner of Miami’s Beaker & Gray, explains that the aromatic properties of smoke create a feeling of dryness rather than reducing sugar.
Also, whatever you smoke is infused into your drink. “The aroma excites the palate and enhances the flavor of the cocktail,” says Norton Christopher, bar chef at Sac-a-Lait in New Orleans.
It can be done at home, with the right equipment and a few safety precautions, as smoking is an important part of a cocktail’s multi-sensory experience (after all, you are using fire and alcohol). Use these pro tips to make smoky and rich whiskey cocktails.
Technique and Equipment
In Potts’ opinion, there are different ways to smoke a cocktail, depending on how much smoke you want to add. She offers smoked cocktails on the menu at Beaker & Grey.
The best way to get the lightest smoke flavor is to smoke-rinse your glass. To begin, chill your glass first.
According to Potts, smoke tends to adhere to chilled items. Put something on fire before serving the cocktail, preferably with a blowtorch, that you are smoking. Avoid using lighter fluid, which will dilute the flavor. The smoke will adhere to the chilled glass when it is covered with the burning ingredient (options below). When you pour, the smoke will disperse.
You can also smoke-rinse the whole cocktail. Smoke should be collected in a large container, such as a wine decanter or pitcher. Once the vessel has been chilled, light the smoking ingredient using the same procedure as above.
Smoke is collected more efficiently when there is a little oxygen added to the fire. When you’re satisfied with the smoke, pour the cocktail into the vessel and stir it for a few minutes (a few minutes is a good rule of thumb). You will mostly smell the smoke flavor after 30 seconds if you allow it to sit a few seconds. Pour your smokey drink into your glass and enjoy.
Alcohol and fire are a dangerous combination, so you don’t need to be told. Smoked cocktails should be made with caution. Make sure long hair and clothes are tied back. Smoke drinks outdoors if possible. It’s safer to prepare a non smoked cocktail kit next time if you’ve already had a few smoked Manhattans.
Using a variety of ingredients, Potts encourages customers to experiment with smoked cocktails. You can’t tell the smell of something after you smoke it if you don’t get the matchbook out. As he developed a particular cocktail, he smoked 10 or 15 different ingredients until he found the one with the best aroma. If you smell good smoke, light something on fire and then rinse the glass with it. The cocktail will taste better if you smoke it in a larger vessel.”
Smoking cocktails is part of the fun. Watch the smoke swirl as the glass is placed on a plank or heat-proof tray with ingredients already burning. Pour the drink into the glass and watch the smoke swirl.
In addition to smoking ingredients, you can garnish your dishes with herbs and cinnamon sticks. ‘Gettin Figgy Wit It’ is a cocktail we serve at Sac-a-Lait,’ Christopher reveals. There is no smoke in the drink itself. An herb sprig I use as a garnish instead. The spring is still smoking when it arrives at the guest’s table. Smokiness is added to the cocktail, creating a nice aroma.“
Try these flavor pairings if you don’t feel comfortable playing Mad Scientist with your cocktails. Don’t smoke when you stir your cocktail.
Considering rye’s spiced nature goes well with oak, cherry, and hickory, Potts suggests a smoked Manhattan as an excellent introduction to smoked cocktails.
Christopher says that the husks contribute both a mild sweetness and a way to emphasize the corn tastes in the bourbon.
Potts says scotch is always good with smoky things, even without peating, even without smoking thyme.
The sweetness of the whiskey blends well with the sweet notes of cinnamon, which is why Potts recommends bourbon heated with cinnamon.