smoked ice cocktail

Smoked Ice: The Backyard Bartender’s Secret (and Flavorful) Weapon

Here's one cocktail ingredient you're unlikely to find at any bar: smoked ice. “It may sound a little kooky, but smoked ice adds instant smoked flavor to cocktails and other recipes,” explains Chris Lilly, 10-time Pork Champion at the illustrious Memphis in May BBQ competition, and author of Fire & Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secrets. Think of it as a sort of umami on the rocks, and the flavor opens up further as the ice melts, taking your drink from sipped-near-the-campfire to full-on-BBQ-infused in a matter of minutes. To do this, you'll need a smoker and any standard freezer.

How to Make Smoked Ice

1. Turn on your smoker, and use hickory, pecan or fruitwood for versatility. (Avoid strong flavors like mesquite.)
2. Once it's smoking, place a pan of water inside for 45 minutes.
3. Remove the pan and let it cool.
4. Pour this smoky water into ice cube tracks, and freeze.
making smoked ice

Great Cocktails that Use Smoked Ice

Avoid flavors you wouldn’t want to pair with smoke, like Scotches (plenty of smokiness already), cream-based drinks, or light tropical drinks. Here are a few that shine with smoked ice.
BBQ Bloody: Use your ice with some smoked chipotle or Sriracha hot sauce (or, if you’re really daring, some drippings from a smoked short rib or brisket) for a flavorful kick.
Woodsy Old Fashioned: Try a little maple syrup and hot water instead of simple syrup, dashes of orange and cherry bitters, along with smoked ice and rye to give this classic a seemingly impossible improvement.
Grilled Whiskey Sour: Halve a couple lemons, twist the faces on a plate of sugar, then grill for a few minutes to caramelize. Pour 1 1/2 tbsp. of simple syrup (ideally of brown sugar or maple syrup and water) over smoked ice, squeeze in a lemon half, and add a shot of whiskey. Stir, and vow to never buy the pre-bottled mix again.
Angry Mule: Sub in rye (or a high-rye bourbon) in place of vodka and add a wedge of lime, two slices of jalapeño, and ginger beer over smoked ice, preferably in a copper Moscow mule mug.

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