American Way

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American Way: Smoking Barrels
By Kristy Alpert

Why adding a smolder to your cocktails is all the rage

You can smoke meat. You can smoke tobacco. But did you know you can smoke a cocktail? Smoked ­cocktails are gaining popularity around the world as bartenders are adding delicate notes of wood smoke to their arsenal of aperitifs. Smoke adds a rich depth to the common cocktail and can amplify the flavors with hints of hickory reminiscent of backyard barbecues and Deep South winter winds.

“The smoking process elevates the flavors of a cocktail delightfully,” says David Burnette, bar manager at South on Main in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Our Black Hell Punch can be served un-smoked, but I prefer mine smoked with cherry chips.”

The only real ingredient necessary for smoking a cocktail is … smoke. But bartenders infuse their libations with a smoldering scent in different ways. One Florida bartender fills a decanter with spirits before adding smoke from a smoke gun and capping the mixture off to let the booze marinate in the woodsy scent, while others may take to lighting herbs or cinnamon sticks on fire beneath an upturned glass.

Whether you’re craving a smoky happy hour or just want to secondhand sip from a friend’s glass, here are our favorite smoked cocktails around the world.

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 Black Hell Punch
By David Burnette, bar manager at South on Main in Little Rock, Arkansas

What’s In It? Batavia Arrack, Swedish punsch, Smith and Cross Jamaican rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, Bittermens Hellfire Shrub and smoked paprika
How It’s Smoked: Chilled ingredients are shaken, then strained into a growler filled with cherry chip smoke to sit for 30 seconds.

Smoky Negroni
By Sarah Lawrence, bartender at Hakkasan at Fontainebleau Miami Beach

What’s In It? Spring 44 Old Tom, Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, Campari and Grand Marnier smoke infusion
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How It’s Smoked: Ingredients sit in a decanter filled with smoke from a smoke gun before being poured over an ice ball.

The Smoky Pear
By Papi Hurtado, bartender at The Rittenhouse in Philadelphia

What’s In It? Dewar’s 12, pear puree, amaretto, Cointreau, citrus agave nectar, rosemary bitters and a small bunch
of burnt rosemary
How It’s Smoked: A sprig of rosemary is burned over an open flame before the smoking herb is stirred in the empty glass; top off with the shaken mixture of liquids.

Brimstone “Margarita”
By Anthony J. Boi, beverage manager at Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Rhode Island

What’s In It? El Buho mezcal, triple sec, blood orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup, jalapeño and smoked salt
How It’s Smoked: The smoky flavors of the mezcal are enhanced by the heat of the jalapeño and the salt rimming the glass.