Infusing a cocktail with smoky flavor usually involves a pricey specialty tool, such as a smoking gun.
The gun burns wood chips, captures the smoke, and blows it into a box or cloche in which resides a cocktail. As the flavor particles in the smoke condense on the drink, they impart their smoky essence.
But there’s a far easier—and cheaper—way to get the same effect: Make liquid smoke ice cubes.
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What Is Liquid Smoke?
A popular ingredient in barbecue sauces, liquid smoke is made by burning wood chips and condensing the hot smoke to form a liquid.
Bottles of the liquid can be stored in the pantry for over a year, so it’s a great ingredient to keep on hand.
How to Make Liquid Smoke Ice Cubes
To add liquid smoke to cocktails, we mixed ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke per 1 cup of water and froze the water in ice cube trays.
We then tested using a 1¾-inch-wide smoked ice cube in various cocktails (3 regular 1¼-inch-wide cubes would work as well). We tested the cubes in both rocks and shaken-and-strained drinks.
We found that a rocks drink’s flavor evolved as the smoke-flavored ice slowly melted. In shaken drinks, a 30-second shake infuses a sufficient amount of smoke into the drink.
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The Best Cocktails for Liquid Smoke Ice Cubes
Generally speaking, we found the smoke best suited to whiskey-based cocktails (it felt out of place with clear spirits like gin and vodka).
We recommend trying a Boulevardier (bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth) over a smoked ice cube, or shaking up a Paper Airplane (bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino, lemon juice) with a few of the flavored cubes.