I got a cocktail smoker for Christmas. It is a fairly simple set of tools. Wood chips are loaded into a metal mesh cutout in a wooden top that covers the glass and a small hand torch is used to light the woodchips. Smoke then cascades down into the glass and infuses flavor into the liquor.
Still, in the early stages of trial and error research, I cannot say the kit has revolutionized my drink making but it has been fun to see its effects on familiar spirits. Interestingly it tends to cut the burn and bite of straight liquor.
Smoking a cocktail seems like an obvious step, even if it is used as a gimmick but the practice is not even 20 years old. Mixology historians seem to agree that incorporating smoked ingredients started with New York Bartender Eben Freeman who made a cocktail that used smoked Coca-Cola syrup in his elevated Jack and Coke.
Surprisingly, it took this long to get too smoked cocktails considering we have been smoking meat forever. It is an easy way to inject depth of flavor into an ingredient and also gives a showy aspect that a good bartender can exploit.
I remember a bartender at the now defunct county seat serving me a cocktail at the bar that he pulled out the form under a dome of glass full of smoke. Impressive stuff.
Smoking can be a fussy enterprise though and I have definitely ordered a smoked drink before that just tasted like rubber. Also impressive stuff but not in a good way.
Ultimately I think the reason the smoked cocktail took so long to exist is because of the smokey reputation of scotch. A good scotch- blended or single malt, it is up to you- may be the easiest way to inject a little smoke into a drink whether you use it to rinse the glass or mix it in the drink itself.
I have heard tell of putting scotch in a martini to add a little smoke. Though no one seems to be able to nail down how true this is there is a fairly common story in cocktail history that this was invented by the British during World WarII. Unable to import vermouth from Italy and France, the brits started making their martinis with scotch subbed in for the vermouth.
I must admit, when I first heard anyone was mixing gin and scotch I thought they might be a bit crazy but after mixing one- and then quite a few-I have to say it is a very refreshing drink.
•2.5 ounces Gin
•.25 ounces Scotch
Combine the gin and scotch in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.