How Do You Make Smoked Cocktails?

I have some exciting news for all the cocktail enthusiasts out there! Have you ever wondered how to make those enticing smoked cocktails that add a touch of mystery and depth to your favorite drinks? Look no further, because I’m here to guide you through the process of creating your own smoked cocktails. From choosing the right ingredients to selecting the perfect wood chips, we’ll explore all the key steps you need to take to elevate your mixology skills and impress your friends at your next gathering. So, grab your shaker and get ready to embark on a flavor-filled adventure with smoked cocktails!

Choosing the right ingredients

Selecting the base spirit

When it comes to making smoked cocktails, choosing the right base spirit is essential. The base spirit provides the foundation for your cocktail and sets the tone for the flavors that will be enhanced by smoke. Whiskey, tequila, and gin are popular choices for smoked cocktails, as they each bring their own unique characteristics to the drink. Consider the flavors and aromas that you want to highlight and select a base spirit that complements them.

Choosing complementary flavors

Once you have selected your base spirit, it’s time to choose the complementary flavors that will enhance the smoky profile of your cocktail. Citrus fruits, herbs, spices, and bitters can all be used to create complex and balanced flavor profiles. Experiment with different combinations to find the perfect balance of flavors for your smoked cocktail. For example, if you have chosen a whiskey base, you might consider using orange and cinnamon as complementary flavors.

Experimenting with different herbs and spices

Herbs and spices are a great way to add depth and complexity to your smoked cocktails. Rosemary, thyme, sage, and cinnamon are just a few examples of herbs and spices that pair well with smoky flavors. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try out different combinations. The smokiness of the cocktail can amplify the flavors of the herbs and spices, creating a truly unique and memorable drinking experience.

Preparing the smoking apparatus

Selecting the right type of wood chips

The type of wood chips you choose will greatly impact the flavor and aroma of your smoked cocktail. Different types of wood chips, such as oak, apple, and hickory, each impart their own distinct flavors. Oak chips give a robust and earthy flavor, while apple chips provide a subtle sweetness. Experiment with different wood chip flavors to find the one that best complements the other ingredients in your cocktail.

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Choosing a suitable smoking device

There are several smoking devices available to choose from, including smoking guns, cedar planks, and handheld smokers. The choice of smoking device depends on your personal preference and the level of smokiness you want to achieve. Smoking guns are popular for their ease of use and ability to infuse a controlled amount of smoke into the cocktail. Cedar planks, on the other hand, can be used for a more subtle and nuanced smoky flavor.

Preparing the smoking chamber

Before you begin smoking your cocktails, it’s important to prepare the smoking chamber properly. This is where the magic happens as the smoke interacts with the cocktail and enhances its flavors. Ensure that the smoking chamber is clean and free from any residue or debris that could affect the taste of your drink. You can use a glass cloche or a large mixing glass as a smoking chamber, depending on the size of your cocktail.

Smoking techniques

Cold smoking

Cold smoking is a technique that involves exposing the cocktail to smoke without subjecting it to high temperatures. This allows the flavors to infuse slowly and gives the cocktail a more delicate smoky taste. To cold smoke a cocktail, you will need a smoking gun or another suitable smoking device. Place the smoking gun in the smoking chamber along with the cocktail, and ignite the wood chips. Allow the smoke to circulate in the chamber for a few minutes before removing the cocktail.

Hot smoking

Hot smoking is a technique that involves exposing the cocktail to smoke while also subjecting it to heat. This method results in a more intense and robust smoky flavor. To hot smoke a cocktail, you will need a heat source such as a charcoal grill or a smoking box. Light the wood chips and place them in the smoking box or directly onto the hot coals. Place the cocktail in the smoking chamber and close the lid to allow the smoke to permeate the drink. The cocktail can be left in the smoking chamber for varying amounts of time, depending on the desired smokiness.

Infusing smoke through a smoking gun

Using a smoking gun is a popular and convenient way to infuse smoke into cocktails. Simply load the chamber of the smoking gun with your chosen wood chips and light them. Place the hose of the smoking gun into the smoking chamber along with the cocktail, and allow the smoke to flow through the chamber for a few minutes. The smoke will begin to infuse into the cocktail, adding a delightful smoky aroma and flavor.

Preparation steps for smoked cocktails

Step 1: Preparing the base cocktail

Before you begin the smoking process, it’s important to prepare the base cocktail. This involves mixing all the ingredients, excluding the smoke, in a shaker or mixing glass. Stir or shake the ingredients to ensure they are well combined and chilled. This step allows the flavors to meld together before the smoky infusion takes place.

Step 2: Setting up the smoking process

Once the base cocktail is prepared, it’s time to set up the smoking process. Choose a suitable smoking device, whether it’s a smoking gun or a charcoal grill, and ensure it is clean and ready to use. Select the wood chips that will complement the flavors of your cocktail and place them in the smoking chamber or device. Make sure the chamber is tightly sealed to prevent any smoke from escaping.

Step 3: Smoking the cocktail

Now it’s time to infuse your cocktail with the delicious smoky flavors. Place the prepared cocktail in the smoking chamber and ignite the wood chips or activate the smoking device. Allow the smoke to circulate around the cocktail, infusing it with its unique aroma and taste. The length of time you leave the cocktail in the smoking chamber will depend on the intensity of the smokiness you desire.

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Step 4: Allowing the flavors to infuse

After the cocktail has been smoked, it’s important to give the flavors time to meld together. Allow the cocktail to sit for a few minutes, allowing the flavors to fully develop and integrate. This step is crucial for achieving a well-balanced and harmonious taste.

Step 5: Straining and serving

The final step in preparing a smoked cocktail is to strain it and serve it in a suitable glass. Remove any ice or solids from the cocktail by straining it into a chilled glass. Garnish the drink with complementary ingredients, such as a citrus peel or a sprig of fresh herbs. Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the unique sensory experience of a smoked cocktail.

Popular smoked cocktail recipes

Smoked Old Fashioned


  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish


  1. In a mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube and bitters together.
  2. Add the bourbon and stir until well combined.
  3. Place the cocktail in a smoking chamber and infuse with smoke for desired smokiness.
  4. Allow the flavors to infuse for a few minutes.
  5. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass over ice.
  6. Garnish with an orange peel twist.

Smoked Negroni


  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • Orange peel for garnish


  1. Stir the gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  2. Place the cocktail in a smoking chamber and infuse with smoke for desired smokiness.
  3. Allow the flavors to infuse for a few minutes.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with an orange peel twist.

Smoked Maple Manhattan


  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Cherry for garnish


  1. Combine the rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, maple syrup, and bitters in a mixing glass.
  2. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Place the cocktail in a smoking chamber and infuse with smoke for desired smokiness.
  4. Allow the flavors to infuse for a few minutes.
  5. Strain the cocktail into a chilled glass.
  6. Garnish with a cherry.

Smoky Margarita


  • 2 oz tequila
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz agave syrup
  • 1/2 oz orange liqueur
  • Lime wedge for garnish


  1. Combine the tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, and orange liqueur in a shaker.
  2. Shake well with ice.
  3. Place the cocktail in a smoking chamber and infuse with smoke for desired smokiness.
  4. Allow the flavors to infuse for a few minutes.
  5. Strain the cocktail into a salt-rimmed glass filled with ice.
  6. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Tips for an enhanced smoking experience

Choosing complementary garnishes

Garnishes play an important role in enhancing the overall flavor and presentation of a smoked cocktail. Consider using garnishes that complement the smoky profile of the drink, such as citrus twists, fresh herbs, or even a sprinkle of smoked sea salt. These garnishes not only add visual appeal but also contribute to the overall sensory experience of the cocktail.

Experimenting with different wood chip flavors

Different wood chip flavors can greatly influence the taste and aroma of a smoked cocktail. It’s worth exploring different wood chip options to find the one that best complements your chosen ingredients. For example, if you’re making a margarita with tequila, consider using mesquite wood chips to enhance the smoky, earthy flavors. Don’t be afraid to mix and match wood chip flavors to create unique combinations.

Balancing the smokiness with other flavors

Smoked cocktails should have a balanced flavor profile, with the smokiness complementing, rather than overpowering, the other flavors. It’s important to consider the intensity of the smoke you want to achieve and adjust the other ingredients accordingly. For example, if you’re using a strongly smoky wood chip, you may want to use less of it or opt for ingredients with stronger flavors to balance out the smoke.

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Controlling the intensity of smoke

The intensity of the smoke in a cocktail can be controlled by adjusting the smoking time and the amount of wood chips used. If you prefer a subtle smoky flavor, consider smoking the cocktail for a shorter period of time or using fewer wood chips. On the other hand, if you want a more robust smokiness, you can increase the smoking time or add more wood chips. It’s all about finding the right balance to suit your taste preferences.

Safety precautions

Working in a well-ventilated area

When smoking cocktails, it’s important to work in a well-ventilated area to prevent the buildup of smoke and ensure proper air circulation. Open windows or turn on fans to ensure a constant flow of fresh air. This will help to minimize the inhalation of smoke and prevent any potential health risks.

Avoiding direct inhalation of smoke

While the smoky aroma of a cocktail is part of the experience, it’s important to avoid directly inhaling the smoke. Breathing in concentrated smoke for prolonged periods can be harmful to your respiratory system. Instead, focus on enjoying the aroma and flavors as they infuse into the cocktail.

Using appropriate smoking equipment

When smoking cocktails, it’s important to use appropriate smoking equipment to ensure safety. Choose smoking devices that are specifically designed for culinary purposes and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid using makeshift or improvised smoking equipment, as they may pose a risk of fire or other hazards.

Ensuring proper ventilation during the smoking process

During the smoking process, it’s essential to ensure proper ventilation to prevent the accumulation of smoke. This can be achieved by using a well-sealed smoking chamber or working in a well-ventilated area. Adequate ventilation helps to maintain a safe environment and allows for the controlled infusion of smoke into the cocktail.

Frequently asked questions

Do smoked cocktails have a strong smoky flavor?

The intensity of the smoky flavor in a cocktail can vary depending on the smoking technique, the type of wood chips used, and the length of time the cocktail is exposed to smoke. Some cocktails may have a subtle hint of smoke, while others can have a more pronounced smokiness. Ultimately, the strength of the smoky flavor can be adjusted to suit personal preferences.

Can any cocktail be smoked?

In theory, any cocktail can be smoked. However, it’s important to consider the base spirit and other ingredients to ensure they will be complemented by the addition of smoke. Cocktails with robust flavors, such as whiskey-based drinks, tend to work well with smoky profiles. Experimentation is key to finding the perfect combination of flavors that work harmoniously with smoke.

What are the best wood chip flavors to use?

The best wood chip flavors to use in smoked cocktails largely depend on personal taste preferences and the desired flavor profile of the cocktail. Popular wood chip flavors include oak, apple, hickory, cherry, and mesquite. Each wood chip flavor imparts its own unique characteristics, so it’s worth experimenting with different flavors to find the ones that best complement your cocktail.

Can you smoke non-alcoholic cocktails?

Yes, non-alcoholic cocktails can also be smoked to add an extra layer of complexity and depth to their flavors. The smoking process can enhance the aromas and taste profiles of non-alcoholic cocktails, making them just as enjoyable and unique as their alcoholic counterparts. Consider using herbal infusions, fruit juices, or flavored simple syrups as the base for non-alcoholic smoked cocktails.


Making smoked cocktails is a fascinating and creative way to enhance the flavors of your favorite drinks. By carefully choosing the right ingredients, experimenting with different smoking techniques, and taking safety precautions, you can create unique and memorable cocktails that tantalize your senses. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a home bartender looking to elevate your cocktail experience, smoking cocktails is a technique worth exploring. So gather your ingredients, fire up your smoking apparatus, and enjoy the deliciously smoky results!