Smoke was originally used by chefs to smoke a food and then taken over by cocktail mixologists. Smoky notes in a flavour are complex and give a real depth and new dimension to whatever they are combined with. Smoke is produced by burning wood and the best released flavours are when the temperature reaches 400 °C when burning the wood although if it’s too high it might catch on fire.
There are couple of techniques on how to imparts these typical smoky flavours into your drink. The easiest way would be to use hand-held smoking device such as Polyscience smoking gun, of course there are other brands but this one works effectively and is easy to clean. Basically you place the wood in the crucible of the smoking gun then turn it on and ignite the wood with a flame or blowtorch, allow it to settle for a couple of seconds and direct the flow of smoke. Smoke can be easily directed into sealable container or bottle(shake it at least once) and mixing beaker or glass.
What Wood chips to use?
Hickory Wood chips – Sweet, aromatic, flavour of BBQ
Bourbon Soaked Wood chips – Authentic taste of deep south, last long
Apple Wood Chips – Light and fruity
Oak Wood Chips- Very bold and intense flavour
Maple Wood Chips – Mild sweetish flavour
Other techniques such as using Cold smoker which is good for fresh fruits where you can get a smoky flavour without destroying the texture of the fruit(great for smoky garnishes) or simple blowtorch to ignite the wood chips and then covered it along with your drink and let it infuse.
If you don’t wanna invest in a smoking tools or equipment then there is one more choice by choosing already smoky ingredients for your drink such as:
Mezcal – Use just small amount in the cocktails not to overpower drink, great along with tequila
Islay Whiskies (Laguvulin, Laphroig) – Great as a float or just in a small amount in a cocktails
Lapsang Souchong Tea – You can make Syrup out of it
Bacon Infused Spirit – Infuse using fat washing technique
Dark Smoky Beer – Guinness, Smoked Porter
Molasses – You can make a syrup with granulated sugar, molasses and hot water
Smoked Salt– You can use for a glass rims or just a touch in a cocktails
Liquid Smoke(Hickory) – Concentrated liquid, easy to use