Adventurous chefs and bartenders have been experimenting with smoked ingredients for a while now, and lately the most talented mixologists around the U.S. have upped that game to an artform. Get in on the smokin’ hot craze with these six unforgettable drinks.
Jakarta at Tempo Dulu, Portland, Maine
At Tempo Dulu, in Portland, Maine's Danforth Inn, the kitchen presents standout Southeast Asian cuisine from chef Lawrence Klang, while the bar stirs up majestic cocktails like the Jakarta. An empty glass sits over a small, fiery mound of Chinese five-spice blend (ground spices used in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking), and gets lifted just in time for rye whiskey to be poured on top. The cocktail is finished off with rose foam, for a heavenly presentation that looks innocent but is devilishly potent.
Smoked Whiskey and Cola at RX Boiler Room, Las Vegas
At RX Boiler Room at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, the classic comfort food-centric tapas are created by Top Chef Masters alum Rick Moonen. Science fiction meets 19th-century industrialized Western civilization at the playful, steampunk-inspired venue, complete with industrial gears, cogs and swooping velveteen fabrics. Joining the stellar food and eye-catching decor is an innovative drinks program that highlights handcrafted cocktails like the Smoked Whiskey and Cola. This powerful concoction involves Tennessee Whiskey, housemade cola syrup, vanilla bitters, soda water, and cherrywood chips smoked in a crystal skull and then poured over ice. A bottle of soda water served on the side helps you keep the cocktail going for a good long while.
Lawless at Blue Hound Kitchen, Phoenix
At the American gastro-lounge Blue Hound Kitchen in Downtown Phoenix, the must-try drink is called the Lawless. The elaborate process of making it involves holding a chilled glass over smoked tobacco cooked in a skillet. Then rye whiskey gets added in, along with a liqueur made from wormwood (the supposedly hallucinogen-like botanical found in absinthe). For a final flourish, the house's own bitters—made with coffee, tobacco and cocoa—go into the glass for a luxe, smoky swig.
Carbon Copy at Science Lab, D.C.
At the Washington, D.C. lounge Science Lab, housed in a four-story brownstone, the drinks are often served in beakers. DJs spin while guests chill over crazy-good cocktails like the Carbon Copy, a mix of vodka, hibiscus tea, pineapple syrup and lime bitters served in a martini glass, which arrives obscured by a cloud of smoke (aka dry ice).
Trinidad Smoke at The Berry & Rye, Omaha
The Berry & Rye bar in Omaha’s Old Market district knows how to make an impression. Although the menu at the intimate spot has a pre-Prohibition bent, the labor-intensive drinks get a contemporary spin thanks to modern techniques. Smoke plays a lead role in the Trinidad Smoke, a combination of 12-year rum, housemade tobacco syrup and housemade cinnamon and clove bitters, served with aromatic pipe tobacco. The cocktail is served tableside in a carafe, and you get to pour your own drink over a giant sphere-shaped ice cube.
Smoky Negroni at Hakkasan, New York
The Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Hakkasan in New York City is winning over cocktail fans too thanks to drinks like its tasty signature creation, the Smoky Negroni. The classic gets an upgrade as a blend of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari are infused in a decanter with deliciously fragrant, orange-tinged smoke from Grand Marnier-soaked woodchips.
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