The Best Cocktail Smokers for Great Drinks at Home
Few experiences are as satisfying as smoke billowing from an auburn-colored cocktail, with each sip filled with more smokey goodness than the last. Cocktail enthusiasts know there's no need to visit an upscale watering hole for a sight like this. You can easily recreate it at home — so long as you have the right cocktail smoker.
Smoke has the power to add texture and depth to any drink, especially those of the whiskey variety. When paying attention to the woodchip flavor and style used, you can easily heighten an existing flavor or add a unique note it would not have had otherwise. On the surface, it's also a great way to build anticipation or impress friends and family at your next dinner party. It helps that people have appreciated smoke in food and drink for thousands of years. But before smoking guns, adding smokey flavor to cocktails would only be feasible via a smokey spirit like mezcal or Islay scotch — so having the right cocktail smoker at home is a game changer now.
From smoking guns to all-inclusive sets, we tapped more than a dozen pros to determine which cocktail smokers are worth investing in. The Smoking Gun by Breville is a top choice overall, trusted by chefs and bartenders alike. Read on for all of our best options.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: The Smoking Gun by Breville
Best Value: The Crafty Cocktail Smoking Chimney
Best Splurge: Crafthouse By Fortessa Glass Smoking Cloche
Best Kit: Foghat Cocktail Smoking Cloche Set
Best for Pros: PolyScience Breville The Smoking Gun Pro
Across the board, Breville cocktail smokers — including the traditional and pro versions — are a top choice among bartenders for restaurant and home use. Though they're not as showy as some of the other picks, Breville is the kind of workhorse gadget that'll get the job done time and time again.
Factors to Consider
Anytime sweetness, fat, spice, or salt are in the mix, there is likely an opportunity to incorporate smoke. All it takes is a bit of experimentation. However, traditionally speaking, Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and Bloody Marys are some of the most popular cocktails you may encounter smoked at your local bar.
There is no limit to adding smoke to cocktails. But as with anything, ask yourself why. How does it change the flavor and complexity of the cocktail? The best practice is to use your smoker only if it can add flavor and depth to your cocktail.
Depending on how often you use your smoker, remember that maintenance is key. Change out the filter on a regular basis to ensure you get the purest smoke possible.
After extensively researching this topic, we consulted more than a dozen bartenders to get their take on the cocktail smokers available today. We read hundreds of reviews, compared their responses, and weighed the information against the factors above.
How do I use a cocktail smoker?
Using a cocktail smoker is simple. Depending on the tool you choose, most involve placing wood chips, herbs, or spices into the chamber, setting the cocktail or food within a glass dome, and delicately smoking to infuse just enough flavor.
Remember to choose wood chips that won't negatively influence the balanced flavor of the cocktail. In other words, your goal should be to pick a wood that will complement your creation, giving it enough smoke to add another layer of flavor and aroma without accidentally making your cocktail taste like a barbeque pit.
Why add smoke to a cocktail?
It's the same as cooking —barbecuing meat on charcoal or smoking salmon adds another layer of depth to food. The scent of wood or the smell of smoke is added as flavor to certain cocktails, as aroma plays a huge role in how we taste.
Adding smoke on top of a drink can accentuate bold or bitter flavors but can also easily overwhelm more delicate components of a drink. As with most cocktail innovations, less is more. Adding smoke to cocktails is fun and interactive, but not everyone loves the flavor. Make one drink, then let your tastebuds be your guide.
Which cocktails are good smoked?
Whiskey and smoke have always gone hand in hand, so any classic whiskey drink is a good candidate. Agave spirits will work as well, so a smoked tequila Old Fashioned is a crowd favorite too.
Clarissa Buch Zilberman is an acclaimed food writer with nearly a decade of experience. She tapped more than a dozen bartenders and experts to get their input on the best cocktail smokers, including Nicholas Lappen, Michael Neff, Kursten Berry, Eamon Rockey, Shigefumi Kabashima, Amir Babayoff, Gary Wallach, Bobby DeMars, Ivan Papic, Maxwell Reis, David Porcaro II, and Marshall Minaya.