Where to Drink Smoked Cocktails
Craftbar, New York City
Craftbar, in New York City, is taking the classic Negroni — arguably one of bartenders’ favorite cocktails — and giving it a whole new level of depth by smoking their Campari in-house. While most smoked drinks are made with the more naturally smoky whiskies or rums, this drink is created with gin, and has an unexpected, deep, and refreshing result.
The Bristol, Chicago
Another bar unafraid of taking the Smoking Gun to a classic cocktail is The Bristol in Chicago. Here, they take on the Manhattan, except they use Averna Amaro instead of vermouth, and add in blood orange bitters for extra kick. The real game-changer, however, comes from the house-smoked Maker’s Mark bourbon, which brings the cocktail to a whole new level.
The Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.
This special cocktail by Derek Brown and his team at The Columbia Room is a very straightforward demonstration of smoke done right. Mr. Brown has nearly perfected the use of smoke in a cocktail, and this is demonstrated by his latest creation, The Ghost Dance. This ominously named cocktail is flavored by first burning bison grass and star anise, then holding the cocktail glass over the smoldering spices to rinse the inside with the fragrant smoke. After the smoke has flavored the glass, Calvados, Fernet-Branca and simple syrup are added, and the dance begins. (photo courtesy Yelp/KanKan T.)
AQ, San Francisco
At AQ in San Francisco, someone is playing on a Mexican Piano. Hell, anyone can play it, as long as they have a blowtorch. The Mexican Piano is the smoky specialty of the bar at this San Francisco hot spot, with torched bay leaf smoke trapped under ice in a glass, then covered up with tequila, lime juice, and huckleberry-tarragon syrup. Of course, musical or not, this flaming Piano is guaranteed to have you up and dancing all night.