The Simple Way To Add A Smoky Flavor To Your Cocktail

For Victor Albisu, owner of Washington, D.C.'s Del Campo, smoke brings back memories. "My grandfather taught me to cook over glowing embers in pits we dug in the backyard," he told Popular Mechanics. "And to this day, nothing feels finished unless I smell smoke or taste fire." At his bar, torched ginger is added to champagne and mojitos are flavored with burnt mint syrup. 

Smoked cocktails are drinks that have been exposed to smoke or recipes that require some "smoked" ingredients to finish the cocktail, explains Smoke Show Cocktail Smoker. Bartenders can use a smoking gun or smoke chimney to channel smoke from burned objects into glasses or burn garnishes to finish drinks. And while some of these mentioned devices may look like tools only experienced bartenders can use, Whiskey Muse guarantees it's possible — and easy — to make smoked drinks at home.

Bartenders around the world have set a variety of ingredients and booze on fire since the craft cocktail movement began, observes Mental Floss, but achieving the perfect balance of smoky spirits can be a challenge. For obvious reasons, no one wants to drink any cocktail that is overpowered by smoke.

Smoke show without the fire

When making drinks at home at home, you have the power to choose how much smoke your cocktails contain, encourages Cocktail Contessa. For those not thrilled at the prospect of lighting wood, spices, nuts, or herbs on fire yet still crave a smoky beverage, we have options for you.

To sidestep the need for fire-starting, consider adding mezcal or Islay Scotch to your drink, suggests The Washington Post. Black Jack's bar manager E. Jay Apaga admits to using Laphroaig whisky to bring smoky notes into cocktails, as busy bar environments don't necessarily lend to employees starting fires in order to accommodate customers' drink orders. 

Since whiskey is usually aged in charred barrels, it pairs well with smoke, explains Cocktail Contessa. It's the same for mezcal, adds The Washington Post, as agave hearts are roasted over rocks to make the alcohol. With such smoky notes, making smoke-flavored drinks need not become an intimidating chore, but if you are looking to char ingredients for drinks, we have a smoky Greyhound recipe that is perfect for brunch.