There are very few things in life that bring me more pleasure than a smoked old fashioned cocktail. It's the perfect cocktail to elicit warm and cozy feelings on cool nights, in the middle of snowstorms, or beside a bonfire at the lake.
An old fashioned is a classic cocktail, and one that's really easy to make. To take it to a new level, smoking it is the way to go. There are different ways of doing this, and we'll get into my favorite options a little later on.
Experience the captivating allure of a smoked Old Fashioned cocktail, where whiskey, sugar, bitters, and a hint of smoke converge in perfect harmony. Get ready to savor a truly delightful libation.
Frequently Asked Questions
The choice of wood or smoking method is subjective and depends on personal preference. However, popular options for smoking an old fashioned include using wood chips like applewood, cherrywood, or hickory, as well as employing a smoking gun or a smoke-infusing device for a controlled and convenient smoking process.
Absolutely! The choice of whiskey depends on your taste preferences. Bourbon and rye whiskey are commonly used for old fashioned cocktails, but you can also experiment with different whiskey varieties to discover unique flavor profiles. Remember, the key is to choose a whiskey that you enjoy and complements the other ingredients.
Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
Rich and Smooth Whiskey: The velvety whiskey base provides a luxurious and satisfying drinking experience.
Delightful Smoky Aroma: The addition of smoke adds a captivating and alluring aroma that enhances the overall enjoyment.
Perfect Balance of Flavors: The combination of sugar, bitters, and orange peel creates a harmonious blend of sweet, bitter, and citrusy notes.
Soothing and Relaxing: Sipping on a smoked old fashioned offers a moment of relaxation and indulgence after a long day.
Sophisticated and Classy: This cocktail exudes a timeless elegance, making it a fantastic choice for special occasions or impressing guests.
Customizable to Taste: You can adjust the sweetness, bitterness, or smokiness according to your preference, making it a personalized experience.
Easy to Make: With a few simple steps, you can craft this impressive cocktail at home and enjoy its complex flavors without hassle.
What is an Old Fashioned?
The old fashioned cocktail has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century. It is considered one of the oldest known mixed drinks and has become an iconic classic in the world of cocktails.
The exact origin of the old fashioned is subject to debate, but it is widely believed to have originated in the United States during the late 19th century. The cocktail's birthplace is often associated with Kentucky, a state renowned for its production of whiskey and bourbon. It is said to have evolved from the early "cocktail" concept, representing a simpler, more refined approach to enjoying spirits.
The name "old fashioned" reflects the traditional and timeless nature of this cocktail. It signifies a return to the basics, showcasing the classic flavors and simplicity of the drink. The term "old fashioned" was used to describe this style of cocktail in the late 19th century, distinguishing it from newer, more complex concoctions that were emerging during that time.
The old fashioned cocktail has stood the test of time, maintaining its popularity and status as a beloved classic cocktail. Its history, origins, and name contribute to its allure and timeless appeal.
Why Are We Smoking It?
Smoking an old fashioned adds a unique and captivating element to the cocktail, elevating the overall drinking experience. Here are some benefits of smoking an old fashioned:
- Enhanced Aroma: The addition of smoke creates an enticing and aromatic sensation that mingles with the other flavors in the drink. It adds a layer of complexity and intrigue to the cocktail, stimulating the senses before even taking a sip.
- Flavor Infusion: Smoking can infuse subtle smoky notes into the old fashioned, enhancing the existing flavors of the whiskey, sugar, bitters, and orange peel. The smoky undertones complement and intertwine with the other ingredients, resulting in a harmonious flavor profile.
- Visual Appeal: Smoking an old fashioned provides a visually captivating experience. As the smoke wafts and swirls within the glass, it creates an alluring ambiance and adds an element of drama to the cocktail presentation.
- Personalization: The smoking process allows for customization and experimentation. You can choose different types of wood chips or smoking methods to achieve various levels of smokiness, tailoring the flavor profile to your preference.
- Conversation Starter: Smoking an old fashioned creates a conversation piece. The unique technique and the resulting smoky aroma are sure to intrigue and impress your guests, making it a memorable experience to share.
What Kind of Whiskey To Use
Honestly, this is a pretty friendly drink to use whatever type of whiskey you want - but here's a few things to think about when you're deciding.
- Bourbon: A classic choice for an old fashioned, bourbon offers a rich and slightly sweet flavor profile with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. Popular bourbon brands include Maker's Mark, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace.
- Rye Whiskey: Rye whiskey brings a spicier and drier character to the old fashioned. It offers flavors like peppercorn, cinnamon, and a crisp bite. Recommended rye whiskey brands include Rittenhouse, Bulleit Rye, and Sazerac Rye.
- Scotch Whisky: For a smoky twist on the old fashioned, you can use a peated Scotch whisky. It imparts a distinctive smoky flavor alongside notes of heather, honey, and earthiness. Brands like Laphroaig, Ardbeg, and Lagavulin are renowned for their peaty expressions.
- Canadian Whisky: Canadian whisky is known for its smoothness and versatility. It often features flavors of caramel, toffee, and light spices. Canadian Club, Crown Royal, and Pike Creek are popular Canadian whisky options.
- Irish Whiskey: Irish whiskey offers a smooth and approachable character with flavors of honey, vanilla, and light fruitiness. Jameson, Bushmills, and Redbreast are well-regarded Irish whiskey brands.
- Japanese Whisky: Japanese whisky showcases a range of flavors from delicate and floral to rich and smoky. Brands like Yamazaki, Hibiki, and Nikka offer unique expressions that can add an intriguing twist to your old fashioned.
Different Types of Smokers
So, to create the smoke, it's definitely best if you have an actual tool for smoking. You can just light your wood chips on a clean piece of wood you don't mind burning, but you can also buy plank smoking kits (see below). I have two different types of smokers, and I love them both, but for different reasons.
My first pick is the Breville smoker. It basically looks like a kitchen torch with a rubber hose attached to the end. You place a small amount of wood chips in a small holder at the top. You place the hose in the vessel you want to smoke (if the vessel can seal and close, all the better). When you light the wood chips, the smoke travels down the hose and out the other end. This smoker is great if you want to smoke more than one cocktail at a time.
My second pick is a single-glass cocktail smoker like this one. It's so small, handy and convenient. Just set it on top of the glass, put the wood chips in, and light it up. It also looks super cool and puts on quite the show if you have an audience. This one is also a much more cost-effective option.
Finally, another really cool option I've been seeing lately (although I haven't actually tried it myself) is a kit that has some plank to put the wood chips on. In this case, you flip the empty glass over top of the smoke and let it fill, then make the drink afterward.
Different Types of Wood to Use
Depending on the type of wood you use for smoking, it can have a big impact on the flavor and aroma of the drink. Check out the list below and see what works for you!
Applewood: Applewood imparts a delicate and slightly sweet flavor to your cocktail. It adds a subtle fruity and floral aroma that complements a wide range of spirits.
Cherrywood: Cherrywood creates a mild and fruity smoke flavor with a hint of sweetness. It pairs well with bourbon, rye, and other dark spirits, adding a touch of cherry essence to the cocktail.
Oak: Oak is a classic choice for smoking cocktails. It offers a robust and rich flavor profile, often characterized by smoky, vanilla, and caramel notes. It works particularly well with aged whiskeys and dark spirits.
Maple: Maple wood chips produce a sweet and slightly smoky flavor, reminiscent of maple syrup. This flavor profile pairs exceptionally well with bourbon, giving your smoked old fashioned a delightful twist.
Hickory: Hickory wood delivers a strong and bold smoke flavor. It adds a robust, earthy, and bacon-like character to the cocktail. Use hickory sparingly to avoid overpowering the other ingredients.
Mesquite: Mesquite wood chips are known for their intense smokiness and distinct flavor. They contribute a strong, tangy, and almost spicy taste, making them ideal for adventurous palates and pairing with bolder spirits like mezcal or tequila.
Whiskey: Whiskey serves as the base spirit for the old fashioned. Whether you choose bourbon, rye whiskey, or another variety, it brings depth, richness, and complex flavors to the cocktail. The whiskey's unique characteristics play a crucial role in defining the overall taste profile.
Sugar Cube: The sugar cube is a classic sweetener in the old fashioned. As it dissolves, it adds a touch of sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the other ingredients. It also provides a slight texture to the drink.
Angostura Bitters: Angostura bitters are aromatic herbal extracts infused with spices and botanicals. They add depth, complexity, and a pleasant bitterness to the cocktail. The bitters enhance the overall flavor profile, harmonizing the sweetness and providing a subtle layer of complexity.
Orange Peel: The orange peel contributes citrusy notes and a hint of bright freshness to the old fashioned. When expressed over the drink, the oils from the peel release a delightful aroma that complements the other flavors.
Smoke: The smoke element is what sets the smoked old fashioned apart. It adds an alluring aroma and subtle smoky undertones, creating a unique sensory experience. The smoke enhances the flavors of the whiskey, sugar, bitters, and orange peel, making each sip a delightfully complex and intriguing experience.
How to Make a Smoked Old Fashioned
Get your favorite rocks glass, a sugar cube, bitters, an orange, and of course, your chosen whiskey.
First, place the sugar cube in the glass, feeling the anticipation of the sweet flavors to come. Grab a muddler, gently crush the sugar cube, and let it dissolve into the glass. This step ensures the right amount of sweetness in your cocktail.
Now, it's time to add a dash or two of angostura bitters. These magical drops of aromatic goodness will infuse the drink with depth and complexity. Let the rich scent of the bitters mingle with the sweetness of the sugar.
Next, take the orange and carefully peel off a small strip of the zest. Express the orange peel over the glass, letting the fragrant oils spray into the air. The citrus essence will lend a delightful freshness to your cocktail.
Now comes the exciting part - adding the star of the show, your chosen whiskey. Measure out 1.5 ounces (or adjust according to your preference) and pour it into the glass. Feel the anticipation rise as the whiskey mingles with the other ingredients, setting the stage for a marvelous flavor journey.
To bring the smoked element into play, it's time to introduce the smoke. Choose your preferred method, whether it's using a smoking gun or a more rustic approach. Capture the smoke in the glass, letting it swirl with the other flavors, adding an alluring and unique touch to your cocktail.
The straight-up version of this cocktail is absolutely fantastic, but if you're feeling a bit creative, try some of these variations!
- Cherry Maple Twist:
- Follow the original smoked old fashioned recipe.
- Add a muddled bourbon cherry or a splash of cherry juice to infuse a hint of fruity sweetness.
- Replace the sugar cube with a touch of maple syrup to bring a delightful maple flavor to the cocktail.
- Consider adding a dash of chocolate bitters to complement the cherry and enhance the overall depth of the drink.
- Or, for an even more simple option, just start with this maple old fashioned recipe and then smoke it!
- Rosemary Tequila Infusion:
- Swap out the whiskey with a high-quality tequila for a unique twist.
- Muddle a small sprig of fresh rosemary along with the sugar cube to infuse the herbal fragrance into the cocktail.
- Proceed with the original smoked old fashioned recipe, incorporating the tequila, bitters, and orange peel.
- The combination of rosemary and tequila adds a refreshing and herbaceous note to the traditional flavors.
- Vanilla Orange Delight:
- Begin with the original smoked old fashioned recipe.
- Enhance the citrus profile by muddling a small piece of fresh orange along with the sugar cube.
- Add a touch of vanilla syrup or a drop of vanilla extract to impart a luscious vanilla essence to the cocktail.
- Proceed with the remaining steps, allowing the vanilla and orange flavors to blend harmoniously with the whiskey, bitters, and smoke.
Pro Tips and Tricks
Use a quality whiskey: The choice of whiskey sets the foundation for a delicious smoked old fashioned. Opt for a whiskey that you enjoy sipping on its own, as it will greatly enhance the overall flavor of the cocktail.
Experiment with different wood chips: If you're using a smoking device, try out various wood chips to create different smoke flavors. Popular choices include applewood, cherrywood, or oak. Each wood imparts its unique characteristics, adding depth and complexity to the cocktail.
Control the intensity of smoke: To control the intensity of smoke, you can adjust the time you expose the cocktail to the smoke. A shorter exposure will yield a milder smoky flavor, while a longer exposure will result in a more pronounced smokiness. Find the balance that suits your taste preferences.
Pre-chill your glassware: To keep your cocktail colder for longer, pre-chill your rocks glass in the freezer before preparing the smoked old fashioned. This will help maintain the desired temperature and prevent excessive dilution.
Garnish with precision: When expressing the oils from the orange peel, aim to spray them over the glass, allowing the aroma to be evenly distributed. This technique enhances the olfactory experience and adds a touch of sophistication to your presentation.
Consider different smoking techniques: If you don't have a smoking device, you can still achieve a smoky effect. Place the glass over a smoldering wood chip briefly, and then cover it with a coaster or lid to capture the smoke. Remove the lid before adding the other ingredients.
Play with additional flavors: Feel free to incorporate complementary flavors to further elevate your smoked old fashioned. Consider adding a splash of maple syrup, a few drops of vanilla extract, or experimenting with different types of bitters for a unique twist.
Take your time: A smoked old fashioned is a cocktail to be savored. Allow yourself the pleasure of enjoying each sip slowly, allowing the flavors to evolve and unfold on your palate. The experience is meant to be cherished.
More Awesome Cocktails
Smoked Old Fashioned Cocktail
- Some type of smoking tool see above blog post for suggestions
- 1½ oz whiskey such as bourbon or rye
- 1 sugar cube
- 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
- smoke from a smoking gun or other device
- 1 orange peel for garnish
- 1 bourbon cherry for garnish
- Start by placing the sugar cube at the bottom of an old fashioned glass (also known as a rocks glass). If using granulated sugar, you can add it directly to the glass.
- Add 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters onto the sugar cube.
- Using a muddler or a spoon, muddle the sugar cube and bitters together until they form a paste-like consistency.
- Pour 1.5 ounces of your chosen whiskey over the ice, allowing it to mingle with the sweetened bitters.
- Continue by adding a large ice cube or a few smaller ice cubes to the glass.
- Using a bar spoon or a stirrer, gently stir the ingredients together for about 15-20 seconds, ensuring they are well combined and chilled.
- Now, it's time to infuse the captivating element of smoke into your cocktail. Prepare your smoking device according to the manufacturer's instructions and fill it with your preferred wood chips or smoking material.
- Direct the smoke from the smoking device into the glass, capturing it with a lid or simply allowing it to envelop the cocktail. Let the smoke swirl and infuse its aromatic essence into the drink for a few seconds.
- Remove the lid and garnish your smoked old fashioned with a twist of orange peel. Express the oils from the peel over the glass, releasing their fragrant aroma.
- Take a moment to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of your creation, then raise your glass and savor the alluring flavors of the smoked old fashioned.
- Feel free to customize your smoked old fashioned by experimenting with different types of whiskey. Bourbon and rye whiskey are popular choices, but don't be afraid to explore other options like Scotch whisky or even tequila for a unique twist.
- If you prefer a sweeter version, you can substitute the sugar cube with ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar or simple syrup. Adjust the sweetness according to your taste.
- The amount of smoke can be adjusted to your preference. Start with a subtle amount and add more if desired. Remember, the smoke should enhance the flavors without overpowering them.
- Don't forget to use fresh and high-quality ingredients, including a ripe and fragrant orange for the peel garnish. The orange oils released from the peel add a delightful aroma to the cocktail.
- Take your time when stirring the ingredients to ensure proper dilution and chilling. The right balance of dilution is key to a well-rounded and balanced cocktail.
- Have fun with presentation! Consider serving your smoked old fashioned on a beautiful coaster or tray, garnished with additional orange twists or a sprig of rosemary for an extra touch of elegance.
- Lastly, don't hesitate to make this recipe your own by adding personal twists or experimenting with different ingredients. Mixology is an art form, so let your creativity shine!
Hi, I'm Cara! I'm a food writer, journalist, and recipe developer. I'm obsessed good food, good wine, good cocktails and entertaining. I've picked up a few tips over the years, and love sharing them with others.