Admit it…..we’re all more or less suckers for pomp and circumstance when it comes to cocktails. Between little plastic mermaids, mustachioed glass markers, and hollowed-out coconuts with loopy straws, the modern cocktail never has to go unaccessorized. No trip to the beach is complete without little umbrellas in happy colors and a night in the city requires the twisted bamboo swizzle.
The trump, though, is flair that not only ups the ante aesthetically, but brings with it a new flavor component.
The first time Mark and I had a smoked cocktail was during a night of bar-hopping following a marathon day of interviews back in the fall. The bartender had a funky little smoke gun that flooded the glass with gray wisps that swirled about, leaving behind the scent and slight taste of campfires, cozy nights and the golden crust of toasted marshmallows.
Hesitant to spring for a smoke gun ourselves, we were temporarily stymied as to how to make these in our own kitchen. Then a couple weeks ago we sat down to a bartender who made one using nothing but a small cast iron skillet and blowtorch.
Now on the right path, we picked up one of these extra small skillets, broke out our blowtorch and spent an evening pairing all manner of cocktails with smoke. One interesting discovery we made in the process was that if your glass has a quick rinse with the main liquor in the cocktail (in this case bourbon) it retains more of the smoke flavor.
Mix cocktail in shaker and have at the ready.
Give the glass a quick rinse with a little bourbon.
Place a chunk of wood in skillet. We used cherry, though hickory or applewood (basically anything but mesquite) would also work well.
Run the flame of a blowtorch over the wood until it has charred and ignited.
Place the glass down over the wood and let fill with smoke. IMPORTANT: Make sure that the inside of the glass is only lightly coated with the bourbon and is not dripping when you go to turn the glass over. Excess alcohol that comes into contact with a smoldering or flaming piece of wood can result in flare-ups.
Remove the glass, turn it upright and fill with cocktail and ice or garnishes. Serve immediately.
You can use this method with just about any cocktail that you think would benefit from a little smokiness, but there are few liquors that pair better than bourbon. We created this simple cocktail so that both the bourbon and smoke particularly shine.
Note: In this process you have alcohol and flame in close proximity. Be careful, and as always, keep a method of extinguishing fires close at hand.
- 2 oz Bourbon
- ¼ oz Maraschino Liqueur
- ¼ oz Simple Syrup
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and stir.
- Pour into smoked glass and serve neat or on the rocks.