It’s all the rage, and it sells itself in bars: smoked Old Fashioneds. You might even smell it before you see it. The smoked cocktail isn’t new, but it’s definitely becoming more and more trendy in both cocktail lounges and home bars. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a budding home bartender, a whiskey smoker kit will add a new level of flavor and aroma to your cocktails.
Why Use A Whiskey Smoking Kit?
Why should you use a cocktail smoking kit on your drinks? Is it all just gimmick? Not entirely! Sure, it can come across as a bit hokey (especially as a heavy trend in recent years). As a bartender or cocktail bar owner, that might be okay sometimes. “I’ll have one of those” is always a nice thing to head (and you might be able to charge a premium for that smoke).
But smoking whiskey and cocktails can improve the entire imbibing experience, if done correctly. The immersive aromas of smoke can add an extra sensory layer to a cocktail, creating a very unique, memorable experience. Smoke can also enhance the flavor profile of a drink. Like rimming a glass with a lemon slice, garnishing with mint, or spritzing with saline or absinthe, smoke can add some character to a drink and help draw out nuances of flavor. Just think of smoke as an extra garnish or ingredient to a cocktail.
Modern smoking kits are easy to use, too, so you don’t have to worry about too much prep or hassle. Even new bartenders can break out a cool party trick to make a showy Manhattan or spicy Margarita.
Types of Cocktail Smokers
There are two main kinds of cocktail smokers to choose from when you’re shopping for the best whiskey smoker kit. The oldest, maybe most traditional method of smoking drinks is using a chamber or cloche. In this type of smoker, you fix your drink in the glass of your choice, and surround the entire glass in some kind of chamber. Also in that chamber with your glass are smoldering wood chips that create the smoke. Depending on the size of your smoking cloche, you might be able to do two or three drinks at a time. These can also have a fancy presentation and a more “professional” feel to them, but they are also bulky and take up precious space on your bar. You can be guaranteed, though, that they will work with almost any whiskey glass.
Alternatively, glass-top smoking kits allow you to cover your prepared beverage with a small topper. The wood chips sit on top, and the smoke infuses downward into your cocktail or whiskey glass. These are typically the most common these days, especially for home bartenders, as they are smaller and can be easier to work with. It also typically requires less smoke to get the desired effect on your drink.
There is also a newer concept called “Smoke Rinsing”, where you turn a carafe upside down on a smoking object (like a snuffed flame, woodchip, or pellet), and let the carafe fill with smoke. Then you add your cocktail ingredients to the carafe, cap it, and swirl the mixture around to soak up all that smoke.
The Best Cocktail Smoking Kits
As a trendy new bar tool, there are lots of cocktail smoking kits floating around the markets these days. Which one is right for you and your bar will depend on a few details, like the volume of drinks you’re making, frequency of use, level of professionalism, and budget. We’ve rated a few of them below. Note: we may get a kickback for these recommendations, but we promise they’re honest.
Best Overall Whiskey Smoking Kit
When considering all factors (weighted towards home bartenders), considering design, ease of use, and price, we like the Alchemi Single-Serve Smoked Cocktail Kit from Viski. This 5-piece, top-down smoker kit contains everything you need to make a great smoked cocktail, including the smoking topper itself, a butane hand-torch, fine mesh strainer, wood chips, and even a 14oz cocktail glass.
This kit won’t take up much space on your bar, but will reliably make a consistent smoked cocktail whenever you want one.
Upgrade Pick: Cocktail Smoker Kit
If you like the look of the Alchemi Single Serve Cocktail Kit above, but want to up your game a little, bit, consider going the “Smoke Rinse” method with this upgraded kit from Alchemi. The Alchemi Smoked Cocktail Kit for Smoke Rinsing uses pellets to fill a carafe with smoke. When you add your cocktail ingredients, you swirl them around in the smoke for a “rinsed” infusion. The carafe option also lets you smoke a small “batch” of cocktails at once (2-3 drinks).
This kit comes with a smoking stand, carafe, pellets, and a recipe book.
Best Budget Whiskey Smoker Kit
If you’re on a bit more of a budget, you can find cocktail smoker kits all over the internet that will get the job done. Amazon is full of them. You might find that a good introduction to cocktail smoking comes with one of these kits from Taigin that have several types of wood chips you can experiment with.
*at time of posting
Personalized Whiskey Smoking Kits
If you’re looking for something to give as a gift or provide an extra bit of class or sophistication (depending on your definition of that), you might be interested in a personalized kit. Home Wet Bar offers deluge of great personalized smoking kits. Some of their kits come with glassware or decanters. Or you can just get the wood from your whiskey smoker kit stamped. These kits all work really well, but not any better than our top pick. For these, you’ll pay a premium for the personalization.
Best Smoking Kit For Cocktails
Ultimately, any of these kits are going to get the job done, and you can’t go wrong no matter which you buy. There are a lot of “home-brewed” solutions out there as well, so if you’re into the DIY thing, you could always give that a go. Otherwise, consider picking up one of these smoking kits. They’ll make a great addition to your home bartending hobby, or a great gift for a whiskey enthusiast.