Watch any bartender craft a smoked cocktail, and the visual appeal is mesmerizing. The fire, how the smoke fills the glass. There’s a bit of alchemy and magic to the craft that draws you in and beckons you to come closer and take a sip. As cool as this is, the art of crafting smoked cocktails isn’t just about the presentation. It’s also about the experience and how smoke adds unique depth, complexity, and aroma notes to your favorite cocktails.
There are essentially two different ways to infuse your cocktails with the flavor and aroma of smoke. The first is by using a board made of specific types of wood that work beautifully for smoking cocktails. Our smoking boards feature five different types of wood – Cherry, Maple, Oak, Hickory, and Walnut.
With this process, you generate a flame on the board and then smother it by placing a cocktail glass over the top. While the glass is being infused with smoke, it is the perfect time to craft your cocktail. The last step is to flip the smoked glass over and pour your cocktail in.
This method really infuses the cocktail with the essence of the wood, and you get the notes and flavors in every sip.
The other method is to use a Smoking Saucer. A saucer is designed to fit over your cocktail glass, and it features a bowl with a mesh sieve. The first step is to craft a delicious cocktail. The next step is to place the saucer over the glass and pack your favorite wood chips into the bowl. Next, add a little flame. As the wood chips burn, the smoke funnels through the bowl and down into the cocktail.
This method offers stunning visual appeal with ‘lake effect’ smoke, and the nose is really pronounced as you lift the glass for that first sip. As the cocktail rests, the smoke begins to dissipate, and the more subtle notes are left to linger with the cocktail.
Best Wood for Smoked Cocktails
This is a hot debate among smoked cocktail enthusiasts, but it really comes down to the type of cocktail and personal preference. Cherry, maple, oak, hickory, and walnut are all fantastic for smoked cocktails, and with these five types of wood, you can hit upon just about every intensity, aroma, and flavor note you can imagine.
Those new to smoked cocktails and those who prefer a lighter touch of smokiness tend to lean toward cherry for its subtle nuances, while hickory and walnut offer deeper, more prominent notes.
Best Spirits for Smoked Cocktails
We encourage you to experiment with smoked cocktails because no two palates are exactly the same. However, smoke tends to go beautifully with whiskey – bourbon, scotch, rye, etc. A cocktail made with a nice smoky mezcal can also be wonderfully complemented by smoke. Spiced rum also works well. An old fashioned cocktail and Manhattans are among the most popular smoked cocktails.
Clear spirits, like vodka, gin, and white rum, seem to be less popular, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t suited for smoking, especially gin with its unique botanical notes. We even have a few smoked gin cocktails in our recipe collection to prove this point!
Do You Need Fancy Equipment To Make Smoked Cocktails?
You don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to make a smoked cocktail. You can start out super simple with just a few woodchips or pellets on a heat-proof plate. But, personally, we’ve found the art of crafting smoked cocktails to be a bit addictive, and it probably won’t be long before you want to venture out with your first cocktail board or smoking saucer.