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Where to Drink Smoked Cocktails

Where to Drink Smoked Cocktails

The drinks at these bars around the country are smokin’ hot

Yelp/Robert C.

In the very beginning, man created fire, and it was good. For a long time, both of these ingredients existed in very different realms — the alcohol behind the bar, and the smoke inside of the kitchen; however, as was recently reported in a feature in The New York Times, many of today’s cutting-edge bartenders are starting to rebel against the idea that the chefs are the only ones who should get to play with fire.

One of the most intriguing fads sweeping through the world of craft cocktails is the addition of smoke to list of ordinary bartending ingredients. The first examples can be traced to Manhattan’s now-defunct Tailor, where renowned bartender Eben Freeman smoked his own Coca-Cola syrup for signature Jack and Cokes. Smoking also comes in many other forms, including the use of the new Smoking Gun handheld smoker machine, which can infuse anything you’d want with the hefty, rich taste of burning mesquite or even the lighter air of smoldering flowers. Of course, there are more low-tech methods as well, with some bartenders preferring to give their cocktail glasses a hint of smoke by burning herbs and spices in a contained glass. Some bartenders, like Freeman, are even barging into the kitchen and commandeering the house smoker to get that full down-home flavor.

From the applewood-smoked ice at The Wayland in New York City to the smoked grapefruit oil in the Vixen’s Heart cocktail at Cure in New Orleans, there are plenty of tasty ways to experience this emerging behind-the-bar trend. If you’re looking for a more direct infusion of vapors, head to Washington, D.C. for The Columbia Room’s Ghost Dance, which is served in a glass that has been "rinsed" with smoke from burning bison grass and star anise (the glass is held upside down over the burning spices and the inside of the glass collects the smoke inside).

If you’re dying to try one of these smoky creations, there are easier ways to find your local bartender than looking for smoke signals. Just follow this handy list to the closest smoke-spouting bar.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.


Frank Bruni falls for the cocktail world’s new trend: smoky drinks.

It began with an impulse to rhyme. The mixologist Eben Freeman had been watching chefs in New York City smoke a whole lot more than meat—potatoes, bananas, ice cream𠅊nd he wanted to infuse a cocktail with a woodsy zing. “I should smoke Coke!” he thought. He did precisely that, then added bourbon. And so, in 2007 at the short-lived restaurant Tailor in Manhattan, a libation named the Waylon was born𠅊nd, with it, a great trend.

New York City bars used to be places where smoke got in your eyes. Since Freeman, they’re where smoke gets in your drinks. At Craftbar, for example, bartenders smoke the Campari in the Negroni. In Yountville, California, the Smoky Margarita at Bottega pulls off a smoky trifecta: smoked tequila, smoked jalapeño and smoked salt on the rim. The Smoker’s Delight at PX in Alexandria, Virginia, takes things even further, using strained water that has been steeped with three kinds of tobacco.

The mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, who is also deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails guide, calls this an inevitable outgrowth of the barbecue craze—𠇌ocktails have always followed food, and I’m fine with that”𠅊nd a next step for restless bartenders who have exhausted their experimentation with bitters, and then flowers, and then herbs. A logical step, too: Smokiness already exists in mezcals and peaty Scotches. At Death & Co., in Manhattan’s East Village, Phil Ward uses mezcal in his Oaxacan Old-Fashioned to excellent smoky effect.

These smoky drinks do just what innovative cocktails should: They expand the vocabulary of flavor without speaking in tongues. Smoke might surprise you, but in measured doses, it makes sense. It brings the outdoors indoors. Reframes familiar ingredients. And gives them fresh heat.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is author of the best seller Born Round.