If you’ve ever paid attention to how a bartender makes a drink, you’ve already seen all of the common bar tools. The jigger, the strainer, the cocktail shaker — these are the tools of the trade for a serious bartender, and they’re used to make all sorts of interesting cocktails, shots and non-alcoholic drinks.
Yet the art of mixology is ever-changing, and lately, we’re seeing more and more bartenders use more tools than just the standard muddler and mixing spoon. One thing that a lot of our favorite mixologists seem to have on their bar these days is a cocktail smoker.
Cocktail smoking isn’t exactly new — New York barkeeps have been doing it for nearly 15 years. But it is growing in popularity, in part because it’s super easy to do and super impressive (when you know how to pull it off). And maybe, just maybe, it’s because most of us spent 2020 and 2021 at home, desperate for new ways to get our drink on.
Editors’ Top Picks
Ready to learn what cocktail smoking is all about? Here’s what a cocktail smoker is, how a cocktail smoker works and our favorites for at-home use.
What is a Cocktail Smoker?
A cocktail smoker is a device that adds visual smoke as well as smoky flavor to a drink. There are different formats and set-ups, such as the smoking box, the smoking cloche and the smoking lid, but they all involve the use of a smoker gun and wood chips.
How a Cocktail Smoker Works
You heat wood chips in a chamber of the smoking gun, with a hose attached at the end of the gun. You then put that hose through the opening in the box or lid. Once the chips are hot, just hit the “on” button and start blowing smoke into the cocktail.
Voila! In a matter of seconds, you’ve got a smoked cocktail that looks cool and tastes amazing.
How Do You Use a Cocktail Smoker?
Think you’re fancy because you make cocktails at home with a shaker, a jigger, a mixing spoon and a strainer? If your plan is to become a master mixologist behind your home bar, it’s time to add a cocktail smoker to your assortment of other barware.
Cocktail smokers are perfect for infusing smoky flavor to Scotch and whiskey drinks. So if your go-to cocktail is an old-fashioned or a Manhattan, you can break out a smoking gun or smoking box and enhance your favorite drink with all sorts of smoky goodness.
There are a couple of different ways to smoke a cocktail, depending on the type of flavor you’re going for in your drinks.
The easiest way is to smoke rinse the glass, not the cocktail. Smoke sticks to things that are chilled, so you can smoke an empty, chilled glass before even pouring your cocktail. This method offers the lightest smoke flavor, with just a hint of smokiness that won’t have a heavy effect on the taste of your drink.
If it’s a heavier, smokier flavor you’re going for, you’ll want to make your cocktail in your glass and smoke the entire thing. (We like this method best.) With some wood and some heat, you can turn any drink into a smoky sensation that looks like it just came out of a laboratory.
Learn how to smoke cocktails at home, and you’ll definitely impress your guests at your next dinner party or at-home bar night. Even if they don’t love the smoky flavor, they’re sure to enjoy the show!
Ready to find the cocktail smoker that’s right for you? Here are 15 of our favorites, perfect for the amateur bartender or the serious mixologist.
The Crafthouse by Fortessa Smoking Box is pretty much the best cocktail smoking box you can buy. Not only does it impart all that delicious smoky flavor into your drink, but the glass box lets you watch the smoke do its magic — a true treat for both the eyes and the taste buds.
This Fortessa cocktail smoking box features a stainless steel frame with four glass sides and comes with a handheld smoker gun and smoking chips. Just make your drink, put it in the box, put the hose through the opening in the box, and turn on your smoking gun.
The entire box (and the drink inside) will fill with smoke, making for a tasty cocktail with some extra-added drama.
The Smoke Board Smoked Cocktail Kit is loaded with the supplies needed to make a smoky cocktail. This kit includes cherry, apple and pecan smoking chips, a white oak smoking board, a smoking gun and a mason jar to infuse your cocktails with some incredible smoked flavor.
It also includes a handy little travel case the next time you want to take your smoker to a friend’s house.
Some cocktail smokers come with small amounts of wood chips — but this one comes with three large jars, enough to make 300 cocktails in total.
This is one of the best cocktail smoking kits out there, but it is missing one key component: the butane gas needed to light the torch. Butane can’t be shipped through the mail or through a delivery service, so you’ll have to head to a local hardware store to buy some.
In the mood for a smoked old-fashioned or a smoky scotch and soda? The Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser Kit lets you do so with ease.
This cocktail smoker kit features a smoking gun with AA batteries, a stand, a flexible hose and a smoking disk lid. Just make your cocktail in your preferred glass, put the lid on top and put the smoking hose through the hole in the disk. It will infuse your drink with that delicious smoky flavor through a cold smoke technique.
This infuser comes with four different wood chips, including pear, cherry, hickory and cottonwood. It also comes with mesh filters, a cleaning brush with tweezers, and a screwdriver that makes it super easy to assemble straight out of the box.
When you’re not in the mood for a smoky cocktail, you can also use this infuser to inject smoky flavor into meats, cheeses and other types of food.
Breville doesn’t just make great juicers and food processors — they also make a professional, commercial-grade cocktail smoker for use in restaurant kitchens and high-end bars, as well as home bars.
The Breville Smoking Gun Pro is a handheld smoker with an extra-large chamber to load in your wood chips. It’s detailed with a silicone smoking hose, a solid base that holds the gun flat and upright in a safe position and various speeds so you can smoke your cocktails gently or with an intense cold smoke.
If you’re a serious mixologist, this is one of the best cocktail smokers you can buy. It comes with four mesh filter screens, AA batteries and samples of wood chips in hickory and Applewood flavors.
One of the reasons we love the MITBAK Cold Smoking Gun is that it doesn’t come with a box to put your drink inside or a flat lid to put over your glass. Instead, it comes with a domed cloche, which makes it not only great for smoking your favorite cocktails but also for smoking meats, cheeses or fully plated meals.
This smoke gun kit also comes with wood chips, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and mesh filter screens. To use it, just put your glass or plate beneath the lid, put the hose through the opening in the dome, light your wood chips and hit the start button.
It’s super easy to use, and it’s a versatile tool that you can break out anytime you’re craving a smoky BBQ flavor in your food or in your cocktails.
Cold smoke your favorite cocktails with the Homia Smoking Gun Smoke Infuser. This electric cold smoker kit contains 14 pieces, including a smoking gun, a flexible hose, a disk lid, and a tall smoking lid for drinks in tall glasses.
It also comes with seven different wood chip flavors, 20 extra mesh filter screens, batteries, a cleaning brush, and a smoking cocktail ball so you can serve drinks with serious style.
This cocktail smoker offers two smoking speeds for light or intense smoking. With the three different applications of the flat lid, tall dome lid and cocktail ball, you can smoke three different cocktails in a row, making it perfect if you’re looking to wow your friends with some home bar magic.
The Gramercy Kitchen Company Cocktail Smoker is one of the most affordable cocktail smokers on Amazon, and it gets some of the best reviews. The only downside is that it doesn’t come with a lid or a cloche — you’ll need to pick up one of those separately.
Featuring a handheld smoke infuser, this smoker kit includes wood chips, a cleaning brush, mesh filter screens and a storage bag to keep all of the accessories contained in between uses. It’s a great way to smoke cocktails, and since you can determine which type of lid you want to use, you can also use it to smoke meats, plated meals, cheese, salmon and all sorts of various foods and snacks.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly cocktail smoker that can pull double duty as a general smoker overall, look to this option that’s available on Amazon at a pretty low price. With one purchase, you get your smoker, filter grids and wood chips, so you’re ready to go as soon as you take the smoking gun from the shipping box. All you’ll need to do from unpacking is add the wood chips to the burner chamber, turn the smoking gun on, light the wood chips and then attach the hose to a cloche or similar setup to smoke your cocktails.
The compact and budget-friendly smoker operates completely off battery power, produces cool smoke, is easy to use and provides an authentic smoky taste in just a few minutes.
If you’d prefer a smoking apparatus that’s geared toward smoking cocktails and cocktails only, consider this cocktail smoking box from Oklahoma Joe.
Unlike many of the other options on this list, this smoking box focuses on containing the smoke, not necessarily making it. The box is outfitted with a small tray that slides beneath the main chamber. You set your cocktail in the chamber, add your chosen wood chips or other fuel to the tray, light your fuel with a blow torch or something similar and then slide the tray inside the bottom portion of the box and close the lid. When you open the lid a few minutes later, you’ll have a properly smoked cocktail to enjoy.
Not only does this smoking box take care of what is sometimes one of the hardest aspects of smoking cocktails — containing the smoke — but it’s also attractive and will look at home on your bar cart.
If you don’t like the idea of needing to buy bags of wood chips or other similar fuel for use in your cocktail smoker, consider going with this cocktail chimney kit that burns the actual chimney to produce smoke, rather than relying on any extra fuel source.
The kit comes with the smoking chimney, a suitably sized cocktail glass and a butane torch. All you have to do is fill the torch with butane, make the cocktail that you’d like to smoke, place the chimney atop the glass and then light the chimney with the torch. Once the chimney begins producing smoke, you can let it sit atop your glass for up to 30 seconds before removing the chimney and drinking your cocktail.
This smoking cloche set comes with just about everything you could need to get started smoking at home. There’s a culinary kitchen torch, a wooden charcuterie board (on which to place your cloche), the cloche itself, a mesh guard that sits atop the cloche and holds your fuel, culinary-grade butane and smoking fuel made from oaken whiskey barrels.
The cloche set is large enough that you can use the setup to not only smoke cocktails but also charcuterie boards, barbecue and other foods.
This smoking board from Uncommon Goods strips down the smoking experience to its bare basic elements while also giving you five different smoking experiences. All you get with this purchase is a board made from five different kinds of wood — walnut, oak, maple, hickory and cherry — some coasters and a user guide. That’s all, but that’s all you need.
From there, you’ll use a culinary blow torch to char one of the five hardwoods. Once the wood starts smoking or develops a small flame, set your glass upside down on top of it, trapping the smoke. After allowing the glass to sit in place for a minute or so, you’ll remove it and add your spirit or cocktail to the glass. The result is a mixologist-approved smoking process with as little mess and fuss as possible.
The single, five-wood board can be used for making up to 750 cocktails.
This smoking cloche — which can be used for everything from cocktails to cheese — comes with the cloche itself and a fitted wooden board to go beneath it, a smoking gun, applewood chips and a hose attachment. All you have to do is fill the gun with the chips and then either smoke your food or drink directly or place the food on the wooden board, cover it with the cloche and then use the hose attachment to pump smoke into the contained space for deeper, stronger flavors.
The smoking gun can be used not just with wood chips but also dried herbs and spices.
This cocktail smoker uses the chimney method to smoke your drinks, wherein you just set the chimney, filled with your wood chips, atop your glass and then light the chips with a standard kitchen torch. However, this chimney comes with an extra side of flair; it’s shaped like a matte black skull for some serious cool factor at your next cocktail party.
When it comes to creating the best smoked cocktail, it’s best to leave it to the pros. This chimney smoker kit is the go-to for Samuel Stephens, head bartender at Henley, an award-winning cocktail bar in Nashville. “I’m a big fan of the SmokeTop Cocktail Smoker Kit. It’s a great product to elevate the taste, aroma, and presentation for classic Old Fashioneds or Bboulevardiers. It also looks super cool when actually smoking the cocktail.”
Just throw some wood chips in the top, put it over the cocktail, and light it up.
Extras to Consider
Beyond buying the perfect cocktail smoker, there are a few other items you might want to consider adding to your shopping cart.
If you go into the smoking process blind, you may find that your cocktails end up tasting more like a campfire than not. To ensure the best results, read up on the process first with this book that provides step-by-step instructions for expertly smoking your favorite cocktails.
Not a big reader? Consider taking a smoking cocktails class from Uncommon Goods that actually comes with your cocktail smoking kit (but which does not include a kitchen torch, so you’ll need to purchase that separately). The live class will teach you how to make three different drinks with the delivered kit, and you’ll get an email the day before the scheduled class with all the other details you’ll need to follow along at home.
Cocktail Smoker FAQs
Still have questions about using or shopping for a cocktail smoker? Here are the answers to some of your most-asked questions.
Is using a cocktail smoker safe?
Yes, using a cocktail smoker is safe, so long as you do so in a well-ventilated area. Just follow the directions that come with your particular cocktail smoker and you should be fine.
Do I need to clean my cocktail smoker?
Yes, you’ll occasionally want to clean your cocktail smoker. Do so however seems best for your individual smoker. For example, if you purchased a smoker gun that comes with a fitted glass cloche, you might want to clean the glass cloche with mild dish soap and warm water, the same way you might clean a cocktail glass.
It’s important to note that even if you don’t clean your cocktail smoker regularly, you will want to closely monitor the smoking screen or filter if your cocktail smoker uses one. The filter or screen may degrade over time with use, and changing it out as needed will help ensure the best smoking experience possible.
Why even use a cocktail smoker?
There are many reasons to use a cocktail smoker. For some, the process is just enjoyable, and the aesthetic is impressive, especially if you’re smoking cocktails for a group of friends or at a party. From a flavor perspective, smoke can add depth and richness to simple cocktails if the smoking is done correctly.
What can I burn in a cocktail smoker?
While wood chips are the standard item that you might add to a cocktail smoker to create your desired smoky flavor, there are many other items you can burn in a cocktail smoker to create various different flavor profiles. Beyond wood chips — which you can find in a wide array of varieties, from apple to cherry to oak and everything in between — you can also burn dried herbs, dried spices, tea or even citrus peels.
Do I need a special smoker to smoke a cocktail?
No, actually! You can smoke a cocktail at home using items you may already have on hand—no need to buy a specialized smoker at all. All you need is wood chips (like you’d use in a barbecue smoker), a lighter, a cookie sheet and a large glass mixing bowl.
For this DIY process, first, create your cocktail. Then, place the wood-smoking chips on your cookie sheet. Light the wood chips using your lighter and quickly place your cocktail beside the burning chips. Then, cover both the chips and the cocktail with the glass mixing bowl, sealing the smoke inside. After a few minutes, and when the chips are extinguished, lift the bowl. Voila! You have a smoked cocktail—no extra equipment required.
What to Consider as You’re Shopping for a Cocktail Smoker
If you’ve decided that a cocktail smoker is definitely something you need to add to your bar cart, then make sure you keep these factors in mind as you shop.
What do you need?
Take a look at what the cocktail smoker or cocktail smoking kit you’re considering comes with and what you currently already have on hand. If you already have a blow torch, for example, you might not need a cocktail smoker that comes with its own fire source.
What do you want to smoke?
If you just want to smoke cocktails, you can look for smokers that are designed specifically with that one use in mind. If, however, you imagine yourself smoking other things, you might want to go with a smoker that can be used in a variety of ways.
How much space do you have?
If you don’t have much space in your kitchen and no outside space at all, then you need to pick your smoker accordingly and go with a smaller option designed for indoor use.
What kind of cocktails do you like to drink?
If you don’t like to drink cocktails that work well with a side of smokey flavor (think old fashioned, manhattans, or even bloody marys), you might not enjoy the cocktail smoking process and results enough to invest in a cocktail smoker. Generally, cocktails that are on the smoky or salty side are already best suited for smoking, regardless of their base spirit.
How portable is this smoker?
Some cocktail smokers come with all sorts of extra attachments and pieces that you need in order to actually smoke your cocktail. However, if you plan on taking your cocktail smoker on the go, say to a friend’s house for a party, then this can be annoying. Consider your intended uses before you make your purchase.
What kind of power source do you need?
Some cocktail smokers run off battery power, while others are rechargeable or simply plug into a standard wall outlet in your kitchen. As you consider how portable you’d like your smoker to be, as well as how often you plan on using it, think about the power source and how it might help or hinder you.
Do Cocktail Smokers Change the Taste of Your Drinks?
Cocktail smokers don’t just make a drink look smokey, they also add a smoky flavor. But before you try to impress guests at your next house party with smoke-filled drinks, we suggest doing a little experimenting to get it right.
Certain types of liquor work best with certain kinds of wood. Try smoking your favorite whiskey cocktail with hickory wood or applewood chips. Try smoking your favorite Scotch with different types of cherry or pecan wood chips. Give your favorite bourbon a try with cottonwood or pear wood chips.
There are lots of combinations that work well (and some that don’t), so it’s best to experiment with different combos to find the one you love.
Just do us all one favor and don’t go crazy smoking every cocktail you make. It makes perfect sense to smoke heavy-bodied drinks with whiskey, bourbon or Scotch, but if you’re in the mood for a daiquiri or a margarita, we suggest keeping them nicely chilled on ice.
You might also be interested in: 15 Best Wine Decanters On Amazon [Functional And Fancy]
15 Best Cocktail Smokers:
- Crafthouse by Fortessa Smoking Box
- Smoke Board Smoked Cocktail Kit
- Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser Kit
- Breville The Smoking Gun Pro
- MITBAK Cold Smoking Gun
- Homia Smoking Gun Smoke Infuser
- Gramercy Kitchen Company Cocktail Smoker
- TMKEFFC Portable Smoking Gun
- Oklahoma Joe’s Cocktail Smoking Box
- The Crafty Cocktail’s Cocktail Chimney Kit
- Foghat Cocktail Smoking Cloche Set
- Home Bar Cocktail Smoking Board
- The Gourmet’s Smoking Cloche
- OAGA Cocktail Smoker Kit with 4 Flavors of Wood Chips
- SmokeTop Cocktail Smoker Kit