You can use smoke for more than just grilling. Experimenting with smoke for cocktail menus has become popular over recent years, and more recently cocktail smoking kits have become more accessible for the home bartender. But WHY smoke a cocktail? Smoked cocktails are both visually stunning and incredibly tasty when done correctly. Let’s dive into what makes a smoked cocktail so great.
What’s Cocktail Smoking?
Smoking a cocktail – also known as cold smoking or smoke rinsing – involves exposing the entire cocktail or just some of its components to smoke. This is possible using a smoking gun or a smoke chimney like the Smokeshow Cocktail Smoker. You can channel the smoke from burned wood chips or aromatics into a glass containing the cocktail. Allow the smoke about a minute to do its magic, then carefully pull the smoker off to expose a cool-looking drink.
It is also possible to do it using a wood plank and a handheld torch. Simply mix your drink, torch the wood plank and then invert the drinking glass over the torched area to capture the flavorful smoke. After you have gathered enough, put in your cocktail, and swirl for about 30 seconds. In this case the smokiness is probably mildest since there isn’t a great deal of contact between the liquid and smoke, but it can still make a great drink.
Why Smoke a Cocktail?
There are a ton of reasons you might want to smoke your cocktail, so below we’ve listed them with some details and explanations.
Improves the taste of your cocktails
The number one reason to smoke a drink is to improve its flavor, depending on the type of wood or aromatic used. Smoke enriches drinks by adding various layers of flavor to them. For example, you can make whiskey taste sweeter using smoke dust made from Applewood. on the other hand, adding mesquite wood smoke to whiskey gives it smoky notes bringing out more of the deep charred barrel notes.
Turn a common cocktail into your own
The key to smoking drinks is to try several kinds of wood and cocktail pairings to find one you like. The right amount of smoke from a particular wood can transform a Negroni or old fashioned you’ve had countless times into a new and enchanting experience.
A byproduct of smoking a drink is the amazing show and experience it adds to making the drink. Any mixologist who plays with smoke will tell you how smoke brings richness and sophistication to drinks. Nevertheless, the smoke show is always there, and the smoking drink elevates the experience and engages multiple senses before it even reaches your lips.
Achieve consistency and balance
Smoked cocktails are fun chemistry experiments as well. Upon hitting the glass and interacting with other components in the cocktail, the smoke becomes a binding agent, functioning just like bitters. Basically, it helps other ingredients in the cocktail blend better since it smooths them out. The result will be consistency and balance in the drink.
Maximize the flavor
It is also possible for the smoke to dissolve in the drink. At low temperatures, the smoke sticks to the glass’ inner surface so that you feel the full flavor when you sip from it. That’s why you should always chill a glass or add ice before smoke-rinsing it. Chilling the vessel leaves moisture on its surface, allowing flavorful molecules to dissolve.
What Influences The Flavor Of Smoked Drinks?
Smoke adds a savory or smoky taste to drinks. Of course, which wood you choose influences the taste. Almost any hardwood can be used, however, certain drinks pair well with certain types of wood.
For example, applewood and whiskey are a fantastic combination. Applewood smoke imparts a mellow, sweet, and fruity flavor to whiskey. As for Hickory’s flavor, it packs a punch that pairs well with boozy beverages.
You can also try smoking oak with corn whiskey, cherry with a Negroni and cedar with a Manhattan. Moreover, wood chips aren’t your only option. You can add variety to your cocktail by using loose-leaf tea, citrus peel, cinnamon, or dried spices.
For example, cinnamon smoke and bourbon are a fantastic combination. You can also combine thyme with scotch, citrus peels with Japanese whiskey, and smoked orange peels with a Sazerac.
The amount of time you allow the smoke and drink to mix also affects the flavor. The idea behind smoking a drink is to allow the liquid and the smoke flavors to combine into a new unique flavor. The more time you allow this to happen, the better the eventual flavor.
Is There A Drink Or Ingredient That Won’t Work With A Smoker?
Most of the drinks used with smokers are liquors such as whiskey, scotch and bourbon or cocktails that use these liquors as their base, but you can use any liquor based cocktail or even a sangria. For example, you can smoke an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Martini, Mojito, Bloody Mary or even a Dragon’s Breath.
When it comes to cocktails with cream or milk in them, most experts say smoking them won’t go well. The general rule is to use your smoker for cocktail recipes with a lot of alcohol, but you should always try things out and see how you like them!
Guidelines For Better Smoked Cocktails
The perfect smoked cocktail can be achieved by following a few tips and tricks. You need to be patient and experiment a bit to get it right. It’s still fun to try, even if you don’t get it right from the start. You can increase your chances of making the perfect smoky drink by using the following tricks.
Keep it low and slow
Smoking cocktails is a process that adds more flavor the longer you let it sit, so patience and preparation are a must. The longer you smoke your drink, the more flavor it will gain. After all, it’s about allowing the smoke and drink flavors to blend. Additionally, you can add variety by smoking spices, fruit peels, or even teas.
Don’t smoke it too much
When smoking your cocktail, you don’t want to overdo it. Over-smoking your drink may lead to a bitter taste, especially if you are working with spirits. That’s why it is good to go slow and low, i.e., use just the right amount of smoke and allow it enough time to work its magic.
Avoid wetting the wood dust.
We recommend using smoke dust dry. There is a common misconception that wetting wood makes it smoke more. But if you soak your wood dust, the moisture level and compacting pressure are affected, and as a result, it burns poorly. While at it, avoid keeping the wood dust in moist places. Always keep them dry.
Smoking cocktails with the Smokeshow Cocktail Smoker
The Smokeshow Cocktail smoker kit arrives with all the accessories you need to start making bar-quality smoked drinks right in your home. The set includes a handcrafted walnut wood smoker with a lid, an ultra-high-performance butane torch, 140ml of butane, and various smoke dust (cherry, apple, hickory, and bourbon barrel oak).
Prepare your cocktail and pour it into a glass. Place the smoker on top of the glass, sprinkle some wood dust on top, and then use the butane torch to char it. It’s that easy! Operationally, this is as straightforward as it gets. The butane torch propels the smoke downwards and creates some pretty cool visual effects. It also scores pretty high on convenience as it is ultra-portable and really easy to store and clean at the same time.
Once you have put enough smoke in the cocktail, remove the smoker, add the lid and swirl to incorporate the smoke into the drink. Smokeshow’s smoker adds just the right amount of smoke; it is not too much or too little, certainly more than smoking the glass, but it doesn’t overpower. Moreover, it allows you to control the amount of smokiness you want by how much you swirl.
In addition, it’s cheaper and more compact than the original smoking tool-the smoking gun.
Smoking drinks has many benefits. The aroma and the visual effects of the smoke create a spectacular 3D experience while the dissolving flavorful molecules result in layered cocktails with distinctive smoky flavors that deliver satisfying results.
However, no matter your motivation for wanting a smoked drink, you will need a good cocktail smoking kit. Smokeshow offers some of the best all-in-one cocktail smoker kits on the market. Check out our handcrafted walnut wood smoker, which arrives with everything you need. The kit is on sale at 30 % off for a short time.