This past Christmas, we got a new toy to add to our arsenal of kitchen tools, a smoking gun! We have been wanting to play with a smoking gun to make cocktails for a while after seeing one used at our favorite bar to make a smoked cocktail. This smoked cocktail is one that we and many of our friends always order, the cocktail full of a rich smokey flavor and an awesome presentation. When we got our own smoking gun at home, we couldn’t wait to smoke a cocktail of our own!
Smoking cocktails is a big trend in mixology these days, as it is a great way to add a ton of savory flavor to a cocktail. Like cured meats where smoking makes the end product better, smoking a cocktail can take a drink that is good and make it a star!
We started out on the Smoked Cherry by choosing a spirit that works really well with smoke like bourbon or a rye, which already has a hint of natural smoke from the charred barrels used to age the spirits. The warm spicy notes of the bourbon and its natural sweetness are enhanced by the smoke, plus it gives us a big boozy base for the cocktail!
Honey and smoke are two unlikely bed fellows, but when you think about how honey is gathered, smoke is big part of that process! We decided to add in a little honey brandy which brings some honey flavor while not adding to much sweetness. The brandy also adds a bit more strength to the drink and helps keep the drink in balance.
We wanted a little herbal aspect to the drink, so we mixed in some vermouth blanc, which is a sweeter vermouth made from a fortified French white wine (we recommend La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Blanc which was great in cocktails or by itself. The addition of the vermouth adds a sweet floral hint which really works well with bourbon. The vermouth has just enough of a tartness like you get from a white wine, which brightens up the cocktail, especially when combined with a splash of fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Tasting the cocktail at this point, we felt it was a little flat. It was a little spirit forward and needed some sweet to bring it into balance. We chose one of our favorite infused syrups, sage simple syrup, which has a nice hint of evergreen and herb, which really works well with the smoke flavors, the feeling reminiscent of a camp fire in an evergreen forest. A splash of Campari adds a complex bitter citrus note that added a crisp refreshing bite and tied the drink together.
But what about the cherry you ask? After all we called this the Smoked Cherry! Well the first thing we added was a couple of dashes of cherry bitters which brings a real tart cherry tang to the drink. But the main cherry flavor we added to this drink was in the smoke, where we used some cherry wood as the source of the smoke. If you are lucky enough to have a smoking gun, this is the point to bust it out and smoke that cocktail! If you don’t have a smoking gun, if you check out our Bourbon Barrel cocktail where we have a different technique for smoking a glass! We finished up by adding in one of our brandied cherries as a garnish, and to totally make the cherry pop!
- 1.5 oz Bourbon
- .5 oz Honey Brandy
- .5 oz Vermouth Blanco
- .5 oz Sage Simple Syrup
- .25 oz Lemon
- 1 bar spoon or tablespoon Campari
- 4 dashes Cherry Bitters
- Cherry wood for smoking
- Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice.
- Stir until chilled.
- Place a large ice cube into rocks glass.
- Strain the liquids into the glass.
- Place the glass into a container.
- Smoke the cocktail with a smoking gun.