A Cocktail Expert's Top Tip To Remember When Smoking Spirits At Home

bartender smoking cocktail
bartender smoking cocktail - Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

Cocktails are about big flavors and bold ingredients, and nothing embodies that ethos better than smoke. When done well, a hint of smokiness can take a drink from mid-tier to top-shelf. Since smoke is a gas rather than a liquid, imparting the flavor into your drink isn't as easy as pouring half an ounce into the shaker. To get the lowdown on smoking spirits at home, we talked to Jordan Hughes, cocktail and spirits author and content creator behind @highproofpreacher.

"Smoking a cocktail is really entertaining, so it's easy to get carried away," Hughes told us. "Smoke can easily overpower all other ingredients and flavors in your cocktail." Just because it's easy to overdo doesn't mean it's not worth your time to wood-smoke your cocktails. It just means you need to give your craft a bit more attention.

"I'd recommend experimenting with a certain cocktail and seeing how long you should smoke-infuse the cocktail," Hughes went on. "If you try it and it just tastes like you're drinking out of an ashtray, you overdid it, so infuse with less time." How long you smoke it for is going to depend on what method you use but, generally speaking, you shouldn't need to keep your cocktail in with the smoke for longer than a minute. If you're worried about ruining the drink, start at 30 seconds and work your way up from there. You can always add more but you can't take the smoke back out.

Read more: 13 Liquors Your Home Bar Should Have

Alternative Ideas For Adding Smoke To Cocktails

smoke rising from whiskey
smoke rising from whiskey - Vadym Ivanov/Shutterstock

Keeping an eye on how long you're smoking your spirits is the primary focus, but there are other ways you can add smoke flavor and even ways to get creative within a particular method. Take the type of wood you're using, for example. "Smoke from different kinds of woods may pair better with certain types of cocktails or spirits," said Hughes. "So consider trying different kinds of wood chips for smoking (like oak, cherry wood, Mesquite, Hickory, or cinnamon bark, etc.)." Depending on how you're sourcing your wood, there might be a description of what flavors each type of wood is known for. From there, you can plan accordingly around what cocktails you think those flavors would go well with, or vice versa.

If you're planning on making more than one or two drinks, smoking each cocktail individually can become increasingly time-consuming, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on smoked spirits. Try smoking ice cubes to add bold flavor to your drinks. This will condense all of the work needed into one round of smoking, after which, people can add the smoked ice cubes themselves to impart the flavor into each cocktail; pretty genius, if you ask us. For cocktails that don't require any ice, you can use unique ingredients for a flavorful cocktail rim, including smoked salt or sugar. This will similarly cut down on prep time, and cocktail rims double as a great garnish.

Read the original article on Tasting Table