Our Cocktail Expert's Favorite Drink Is A Smoky Infusion You Can Make At Home

As with many things in life, if you want to get a glimpse into what makes for a truly unique cocktail, you're better off asking someone who makes cocktails for a living. They've put their 10,000 hours in to get good at their craft, and all you have to do to reap the benefits is hear them out. In the interest of discovering what kinds of drinks are on the cutting edge, we reached out to Jordan Hughes, cocktail and spirits author and content creator behind @highproofpreacher.

"Honestly, one of my favorite cocktails currently is a rum old fashioned that has been smoke-infused with cinnamon," Hughes told us. "It involves lightly torching a cinnamon stick, and then placing a rocks glass upside-down over the cinnamon." Infusing smoke into the glass isn't the only way to introduce smoke into your cocktails, but it is a good one. We like to get the cocktail glass wet before infusing because it retains the flavor better.

An easier way to add a smoky flavor to your cocktail would be to use ingredients like peated Scotch or mezcal, but there aren't many high-quality spirits incorporating smoked cinnamon. People typically smoke their cocktails with flavorful wood chips or a smoke gun, but cinnamon smoke is an interesting twist that is seemingly adopted from the baking world. The rich flavors of an old fashioned are a great fit, but you can try this with tequila as well.

How to make a smoked cinnamon rum old fashioned

The recipe for a rum old fashioned is a 2-ounce base of aged rum (Hughes recommends Appleton Estate Reserve 8 year), 1 teaspoon demerara syrup, 3 dashes of aromatic bitters, and 3 dashes of tiki bitters. Aromatic bitters are also known as angostura bitters, so keep an eye out for either. The preparation is similar to a regular old fashioned, but the smoked glass does add a little complexity. "Make the cocktail in a mixing glass, and then quickly pour the cocktail into the smoke-infused glass," says Hughes. "The smoke will likely dissipate quickly, but the flavor and aroma will cling to the sides of the glass and infuse your drink, without being overpowering."

The biggest challenge for any home bartender attempting to smoke their drinks is knowing how long they should keep the glass in contact with the smoke. In small quantities, a smoky flavor can work wonders in both food and drinks alike — but if you add too much, you end up with something that tastes more burnt than brilliant. You shouldn't need longer than a minute, though your mileage may vary. Express an orange peel over the drink by pinching it between your fingers with the outside facing toward the drink. This breaks open the skin, allowing bright citrus oils to spray over the drink and create a sweet, fruity aroma. Then, artfully place the orange peel onto the glass and enjoy.