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Smoke And Fire Cocktails

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    Smoke And Fire Cocktails

    My next book has a large chapter on cocktails made with smoke and fire. This is the first section and one simple recipe. There will be more.

    Smoke and fire are a great way to bring a seductive elegance to your drinks. There are two important things to note:

    1) Their contribution is usually very subtle, and you might not notice it unless you do a side by side comparison. For example, grill lemons and squeeze them for their juice. You don’t really notice the change unless you compare it to a fresh squeezed lemon. Wow! Now you can tell the diff! It is not so much that there is a grilled or smoky flavor, but the chemistry has changed and the flavors have shifted. All for the good.

    2) The flavors often shift as you nurse your drink, especially smoked ice cubes (yes, you can smoke ice and the recipe is below). This adds a touch of musicality to the drink, it can be very different from fresh in as little as 15 minutes. So nurse your drink!

    Just be careful to not overdo the smoke and grilled flavors or your drink will taste like and ashtray. Go gentle at first and, after you taste it, add more on the second attempt if you wish.
    Here’s how to bring smoke and fire to the party.

    Smoke your cocktails. Start with your favorite cocktail recipe, chill it because smoke is attracted to cool surfaces, pour it in a stainless steel pan, and toss it on your smoker or set up your grill in two zones and throw wood on the hot side. Keep the temp below the alcohol boiling point of 174°F. Smoke it for 15 minutes.

    Use smoked ingredients. You can add a layer of complexity to an already complex cocktail by using ingredients that are pre-smoked such as mezcal, rauchbier, Scotch whisky, lapsang suchong tea, chipotle and chipotle hot sauces, smoked salt, and smoked paprika.

    Smoke ingredients with a smoker or grill. You can use your smoker or grill to make smoked ingredients for your drinks such as smoked fruit purees and veggie purees or juices or syrups,
    smoked cream, or smoked herbs and spices,

    Smoking gun. This hashpipe like device puts a very delicate smoke into things in just a few minutes without heating them up. The smoke is ephemeral and dissipates quickly, however. Dairy and egg and coconut based drinks are especially receptive to smoke because fat in these liquids clings to smoke particles. You can put coffee grounds, tea, or herbs and spices in the smoking gun.

    Grilling. The high heat of the grill and (very clean) grill grates caramelize sugars and adds complexity with high heat. A little char also can add flavor. Grill citrus or pineapple for juicing.

    Torch.Use a propane or butane torch to scorch garnishes, especially citrus twists. Just before serving, with a vegetable peeler or a small, sharp paring knife, remove a strip of citrus zest about 1 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Leave behind as much of the (bitter) white pith as possible. Hold a long match or lighter over the filled glass, and, holding the citrus peel over the match, squeeze the peel several times to release its oils into the cocktail. They will flame and spark, adding an exotic burnt citrus aroma. Garnish the cocktail with the singed citrus peel.

    Wood plank. Mix the drink and keep it cold in the fridge.Rinse the inside of your glasses with water and freeze them. Place an untreated oak plank from the lumber yard on a hot grill and get it smoking and slightly charred on the underside. While it is still smoking, flip the plank burnt side up and place your frosted glasses upside down on the wood. Bring the glasses and plank to the table (beware of your smoke alarm), flip the glasses right side up, and pour in the drink.

    Wood chips, sawdust, herbs, and spices. Once again, wet and freeze a glass. Get a non-coated frying pan really hot on your grill or side burner and place wood chips, sawdust, star anise pods, loose tea leaves, herbs, or spices in a pile in the center. When they start to smoke place a frozen glass upside down over them. You have to try this with star anise. When smoking with star anise pods, toss the singed anise pod into the finished drink as a garnish.

    Liquid smoke. Barbecue fanatics unreasonably hate liquid smoke. If you are among them, put down that cocktail and move on because the process for making liquid smoke is very much like the process for making liquors. First they burn some wood and capture the smoke with a cold funnel and tubing. As the smoke contacts the cold surfaces it condenses and they collect the liquid smoke. Pretty much the same way smoke flavor condenses on cool meat or the way whiskey is made. So just get over it. Liquid smoke is strong, so a single drop or two in a drink like a Bloody Mary is all it takes to amp it up to 11.

    Start a fire. Why set a drink aflame? There are two reasons, one good, the other, not so good. The good reason is to improve the taste of the drink. The other reason is because it looks kewl. Before I explain how to do this my lawyers want you to sign this release form that says that if you set yourself or your house on fire, you will not sue me, and that you swear you will have a fire extinguisher handy when you do this.

    Use a high proof alcohol such as a 151 rum, Chartreuse, or grain alcohol. It will lower the alcohol leaving behind the flavor. The best technique is to rim a drink with sugar, pour in a mixed drink that is high in alcohol, and then set it on fire. It will caramelize the sugar on the rim, not the sugars within a drink. Neither will it warm the drink.

    Naturally this practice is dangerous. If not done carefully in a safe place, you can burn yourself severely or set your house ablaze. Also, the burnt sugar needs to cool before drinking or you can badly burn your lips. Work in a draft free area, wear short sleeves or roll long sleeves up, make sure your hair is pinned back, push away napkins and children, use a thick glass not your best crystal, be sure not to fill the glass too high, and use a stick lighter. Turn down the lights because the flame is blue and not very visible in normal room light and you need to know when the flame has gone out.

    Never add alcohol to a drink that is on fire because the flame can travel up the pour into the bottle and kablouey. Never serve a drink that is still flaming and don’t let it burn for more than 20 seconds. A flaming shot glass can explode and if you try to drink it you will set your tongue on fire. To snuff out a flaming drink, add a non-alcoholic ingredient or whipped cream. Never try to blow it out.

    A great bartender’s trick is to sprinkle lemon oil on a sugar cube, make a boat from a citrus peel, place the cube in it, and then light the cube. Sprinkle a little cinnamon from on high and it will sparkle as it burns.

    Another trick is to soak a slice of citrus peel with 151 rum or grain alcohol, float it on a drink, and light it on fire.

    Another technique is to set a garnish like cinnamon stick or rosemary twig on fire.

    Smoked ice. This may be one of the, ahem, coolest and, at the same time, one of the goofiest ideas I've ever had. Make a bunch of ice cubes the normal way. Dump them into a shallow pan. Make sure the sides are high enough to hold the water when they melt. Set up your smoker, gas grill or charcoal grill for 2-zone indirect cooking with smoke. Keep the temp low, about 225°F, and smoke for 1 to 2 hours. Exact time will vary from smoker to smoker. Smoke will be attracted to the ice by a process called thermophoresis. The ice will melt.

    Now freeze the smoked water in ice cube trays for rocks, or for crushed ice, pour the smoked water into a zipper bag, freeze it, then pound it with a hammer or frying pan.

    When constructing a cocktail using smoked ice in the shaker, the smoky flavor will be quite subtle. However, if serving a drink "on the rocks," using smoked rocks, the sipper will be treated to an interesting evolution. As the drink matures in the glass and the ice begins to melt and meld with the cocktail, the smoky flavor will become more pronounced. This can be a wonderful effect but conversely, if one is very slowly sipping an aged rum, for instance, the smoke flavor could become so overpowering that the subtlety of the spirit is overwhelmed.

    The Shooting Star

    The Shooting Star has both the smoked anise and the smokiness of Scotch in it.

    1 star anise pod
    2 ounces Scotch
    1/2 teaspoon simple syrup
    1/4 teaspoon orange bitters

    Wet a rocks glass on the inside and stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes. In another glass, mix the Scotch, bitters, and simple syrup. Get a non-coated frying pan or a plank of oak and place a whole star anise pod in the center. Light it. When it starts to smoke place the frozen glass upside down over it. When the glass is filled with dense smoke gently turn it right side up, and with a spoon scoop the singed anise pod in, pour the cocktail on top, add some rocks, and serve.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Meathead; July 18, 2022, 04:34 PM.

    I love to smoke cocktails. I advise mixing up a batch of bloody Mary mix and smoking the whole thing.


      I love a good Island Malt used in any good scotch cocktail. The meltier the better. I don't really have a recipe per say it depends on what is in the liquor cabinet when I want one. I just finished smoking a bunch of lemons and making limoncello.


        These ideas look like they would be easy using the MAK 2 Star smoker box, I think I will try them all!


          I smoke the tomatoes before juicing them for bloody mary mix. I also make smoked salsa ,. Smoked hot sauce and smoked spaghetti sauce and can for future use.. anything is better smoked.. one thing that I have noticed is that I have to adjust the sugar in the salsa and spaghetti sauce or it tastes like BBQ sauce .. I am guessing the smoking process somehow carmelizes the sugar or something. I smoke in my old propane smoker because it makes mess.. o can only get the temp down to about 175. Maybe someone knows why smoked tomatoes get sweeter ?? Meathead



          • surfdog
            surfdog commented
            Editing a comment
            Amen to smoking the tomatoes for juicing! Heck, even roasted tomatoes kick up the flavor...but smoked is the way to go.

            As for being sweeter...aside from chemical changes to being cooked, they also lose water which concentrates the flavours.

          • Meathead
            Meathead commented
            Editing a comment
            Amen me too. Have you seen this https://amazingribs.com/smoked-cherry-tomato-raisins

          • surfdog
            surfdog commented
            Editing a comment
            Meathead Definitely going to be trying that ASAP!

          Should using smoked ingredients PRECLUDE the reader smoking a cocktail by any of the other means in this chapter, the way you say not to add salt to a rub if the meat’s been salted? If smoky ingredients might overwhelm DIY smoking, since you say above how delicate the effect can be, maybe that paragraph should be last in the list, as an alternative to smoking,

          Also if so, it’d be a useful cross-reference between this chapter and any salt and/or rub chapters.

          If not, never mind.
          Last edited by josh_karpf; September 28, 2019, 06:16 AM.


          • Meathead
            Meathead commented
            Editing a comment
            Good questions. I am still experimenting.

          • Meathead
            Meathead commented
            Editing a comment
            The more I think about it, I don't see how a smoked ingredient might prevent smoking a cocktail. In theory. And yes, there will be coross refs throughout the book.

          Old hashpipe? I think we have been in some of the same places so to speak.


            Guess I'm establishing myself as a grammar Nazi, but in Start a fire, 3rd paragraph, line reads in part "use a thick glass not your best crystal, be sure not to fill the glass to high," should be 'fill the glass too high'. Never the less, I'm enjoying your website and preview very much. Thanks for what you're doing.


            Thanks for the pointer, done. I have a habit of stumbling in the entry way!


              Originally posted by Attjack View Post
              I love to smoke cocktails. I advise mixing up a batch of bloody Mary mix and smoking the whole thing.
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