How to Smoke-Infuse Cocktails

To make your cocktails even more complex, just add smoke.

Published Sept. 27, 2019.

Testing Portable Smoke Infusers

Our favorite smoke infuser is the Breville|PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro. To learn more about why we liked this model best, see our recent review.

Smoke infusers can be used to impart smoky flavor not only to food but also to beverages and other liquids. In fact, liquids take especially well to smoke-infusing, as the smoke molecules are attracted to moisture. You can smoke-infuse any liquid using the method described above, but when it comes to smoke-infusing cocktails, we've found that the following techniques work best.

For shaken cocktails:

Step 1: Build the Cocktail

Build the cocktail in the larger half of the shaker, as you normally would, adding ice as usual. 

Step 2: Insert the Nozzle

Position the nozzle of the infuser above the liquid and loosely place the top half of the shaker above it, making sure to avoid crimping the tube, as this would obstruct the flow of smoke. Don’t put the nozzle directly into the drink—the smoke can’t dissolve into the liquid quickly enough and will end up backing up into the machine instead.

Step 3: Add Wood Chips

Add a single layer of extra-fine smoke chips on top of the mesh screen in the smoking chamber—about ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of chips.

Step 4: Turn Fan Speed to Max

Turn the fan on to the maximum fan speed, and then use a long match to ignite the chips. Smoke should start flowing through the tube and into the container fairly quickly. Because you can’t create a tight seal with the shaker without obstructing the flow of smoke, some of that smoke will leak out of the container—this is fine.

Step 5: Turn Fan Speed to Low

Turn the fan down to low and allow the smoke to continue flowing into the shaker for 20 to 30 seconds.

Step 6: Turn Off Fan

Turn off the infuser and remove the nozzle.

Step 7: Seal Shaker

Seal shaker immediately, trapping the smoke inside.

Step 8: Shake, Strain, Serve

Shake the cocktail as usual and strain into a glass. Again, the agitation helps ensure that the smoke molecules make contact with as much of the drink as possible.

For shaken and stirred cocktails:

If you would like a more dramatic presentation for your shaken or stirred drink, you can also add smoke to the cocktail glass itself. Simply cover the glass with plastic wrap, punch the nozzle through the wrap (making sure to clear the opening afterward to permit good smoke flow), and smoke away. Remove the nozzle, cover the glass, and let the smoke sit in it while you prepare your cocktail. When the cocktail is ready, remove the plastic wrap and pour in your drink, allowing the smoke to waft over the edge of the glass as you do. This technique provides more visual flair than smoke flavor, as relatively few smoke molecules will actually make their way into the drink; mostly, the smoke aroma is limited to whatever rolls off the cocktail glass just as you serve the drink.

Equipment Review

Portable Smoke Infusers

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