Smoking liquors can be tricky depending on how you do it. It is well worth the try, however, as smoke adds an amazing dimension of flavor to any cocktail. Smoking fruits and syrups, like liquor, adds a new depth to a drink as well.
Hot Smoke: Though this was the first method I tried, it is definately not the best. Alcohol will boil out when it reaches 173.6 degress F, and all you will be left with is a flavored water. THis does however work well for dense stone fruits, but even then I prefer the next method.
Cold Smoke: Cold smoking uses a lower temprature to create the same effect. Internal tempratures won’t rise above 100 degrees, so this is definately the preferred method (this method is used to smoke cheese and delicate fishes). The equipment is simple and inexpensive. Inside your regular grill or smoker, simply the items your want to smoke, place a santatized metal can with a few smoke pellets and a soldering iron that is dedicated for this purpose only. DO NOT USE A SOLDERING IRON THAT HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN USED!! Solder contains metals which can cause serious health problems if injested. Buy a new one. No substitutes. The smoke time depends on how much smoke flavor you want. You can go from 15 minutes to several hours.
Hookah: This is a great way to get cigar smoke into your drink. Instead of using water, fill the chamber with whatever alcohol you want to have a smokey flavor.
I have found that smoking “accent liquors, such as curacao or vermouth is more versatile than smoking a base spirit, however smoked base spirits will imaprt a heavier flavor to your drink.
Smoking different fruits is another great way to enjoy smoked libations, and using the cold smoke method allow the smoke to penetrate the fruit with dry the fruit out. Afterwards, juice or puree the smoked fruit.
Another cool thing to do is smoke herbs, spices or even salt ( I use smoked sea salt on a the rim of margaritas. Yum!). You can do one of two thing after you’ve smoked your herbs. No, not that kind of herb; we are talking drinks here!
1) Use the herbs as an ingredient in your cocktails
2) Use the herbs to infuse a bottle of booze.
Whatever you choose to use, and do, the smoke should be subtle as to not overpower the rest of the flavors. And I wish I could give you exact time scales, but your smoker is not my smoker. But as a basis, I usually don;t go more than 45 minutes.
Here are some thing I have smoked for inspiration
- Smoked tomatoes, juiced for Bloody Mary’s or Maria’s
- Smoked maple syrup substituted for sugar in Juleps and Old Fashioneds
- Smoked peaches in a Bellini (really go light if you try it)
- Agave nector, smoked and replacing curacao in a Margarita.
- Smoked salt for a margarita or Bloody Mary rim.
- Chiles smoked and infused into Vodka or Tequila.
- Any fruits smoked and infused to Vodka.
The possibilites are limitless!!