The 7 Best Smoking Woods for Cocktails

The right wood chips can elevate your cocktails to a whole new level of flavor. Whether you want subtle fruity notes from cherry, nutty undertones from pecan or a bourbon barrel-aged punch from oak, the possibilities are endless.

Hickory and mesquite offer a robust, full-bodied smokiness that pairs well with dark spirits. And maple produces a light intensity with luscious hints of molasses and toffee.

1. Cherry

Often used in fruity cocktails, cherry wood offers a mild sweetness and delicate notes of stone fruit. It’s a great choice for beginners who want to add a hint of smoke without overwhelming their drink. Applewood is another great option that’s often used with whiskey-based drinks. It’s milder than other fruity woods and pairs well with a variety of spirits.

For a more robust smokiness, try using maple or oak wood chips. Both are a good choice for a variety of cocktails, but they work best when the cocktail and the wood complement each other. Oak produces a bolder aroma and flavor than applewood, but lighter than mesquite or hickory. It pairs well with darker spirits, such as bourbon or rum.

If you’re looking for a simple yet sophisticated drink to make at home, try a Smoked Old Fashioned. The smoked cherries add a subtle depth of flavor to the drink, while the homemade cherry simple syrup adds a touch of sweetness. This drink is easy to make at home with a few ingredients and a couple pieces of equipment. To make it, simply muddle the smoked cherries in the bottom of a glass, add the syrup and bitters, then top with whiskey over ice.

2. Maple

With its luscious, sweet intensity, maple wood offers a light smoke profile that can pair with most cocktails and complements the natural flavors of many ingredients. It also pairs well with bourbon and other barrel aged spirits. Try this sweet yet smoky cocktail featuring gin, mezcal, and real maple syrup.

Incorporating wood-smoked cocktails into your bar menu is a great way to impress guests and create an unforgettable sensory experience. With a few basic supplies and techniques, you can create delicious drinks with the distinct aroma of smoke that are sure to please.

The key to cocktail smoking is to experiment with different types of wood and beverages until you find a combination that works for you. Remember, the type of wood you use can drastically change the flavor of a drink. Fruit woods tend to have a milder smoky flavor while hard woods like oak and mesquite offer a more bold taste.

If you are new to cocktail smoking, start with smaller pieces of wood and build up to larger logs as your skills improve. You can even experiment with using other natural materials like herbs, spices, and citrus peels to add an additional layer of flavor to your drinks.

3. Oak

The classic wood for cocktails, oak brings a balanced, medium-bodied smokiness that pairs well with many spirits. It’s popular with whiskey-based drinks like a Manhattan and negroni, offering a mellow smoothness that doesn’t overwhelm the subtleties of these classics.

Oak is also a great choice for smoking citrus fruit-based cocktails, such as gin and tonics. The citrusy brightness of the cocktail is complemented by the wood’s natural smoky flavor profile. It’s also a popular choice for bourbon, as it enhances the rich complexity of barrel-aged whiskies.

With the right cocktail smoker, you can unlock a world of smoky deliciousness. With a dedicated device, you simply place your drink in the smoker, add a handful of smoking chips for cocktails and herbs, then light them with a torch. The smoke molecules infuse directly into your drink, enhancing its depth and flavor.

While any type of wood can work, the specific wood you choose can dramatically affect the resulting flavors. Experiment with different types of wood and cocktail recipes to find your favorite combinations. As you discover new pairings, you’ll be taking your bartending skills to a whole new level!

4. Hickory

Hickory is a classic BBQ wood, but it also works well for smoking cocktails. It offers a strong, robust smokiness that is ideal for dark spirits like bourbon and whiskey. A Whiskey Smoker also makes the drink better than the original.

Maple provides a mellow, sweet smoke that works well with lighter drinks like vodka and gin. It’s similar to applewood, but without the fruit notes. Malcom recommends pairing it with cinnamon or vanilla to amplify the sweetness.

Oak is a popular choice for cocktail smoking because it offers the complex flavors that many distillers use in their products. It’s bolder than applewood or cherry, but lighter than mesquite or hickory. It’s a natural choice for bourbon and whiskey since those are aged in oak barrels.

There are plenty of other options available for smokers looking to experiment with new flavor combinations. Just make sure to use food-grade, untreated wood chips to ensure a safe and effective smoking experience. Try mixing up different combinations of flavors until you find the ones that compliment your cocktail the best. With a little practice, you’ll be able to create an incredible sensory experience that will impress your friends and family. Best of all, it’s simple enough for anyone to do at home.

5. Mesquite

Mesquite has a bold flavor and is ideal for making cocktails that have a strong, earthy, and smoky taste. It is known to work well with whiskeys, as it brings out the smoky notes of the bourbon or other whisky being used in the drink. It also pairs nicely with bitters and other dark spirits.

Mesquite grows on desert regions throughout the world where it thrives and requires little to no fertilizers, pesticides, or irrigation. This plant is able to survive in harsh conditions because of the rich resources it provides for the environment, like its long and narrow leaves and the slender pods that contain edible beans. These beans can be ground into flour and eaten, or used to make mesquite powder which is used in medicine to promote digestion and gut protection.

While it is tempting to stick with one type of wood when smoking cocktails, experimentation is a must. You can use a combination of hickory and applewood chips for instance, or try mixing it up with mesquite and cherry. You can also buy cocktail smoker kits that have pre-packaged wood dust so you can try a variety of different flavors with your drinks.

6. Pine

Pine provides a mild flavor that pairs well with a variety of drinks. It is an excellent choice if you want to add a subtle hint of smokiness to your cocktails. However, it is important to note that pine releases a lot of Creosote when used in smoking meat. Therefore, you should avoid using pine with any meat products.

You can use a variety of tools to smoke your cocktails, but a cocktail chimney is typically the best option. This tool fits snugly over the top of your glass and enables you to control the amount of smoke that infuses your drink. It also allows you to experiment with different types of wood and herbs for a unique flavor profile.

The type of wood you use will significantly affect the flavor of your smoked cocktails. Mesquite and hickory provide a strong, robust smokiness that pair well with dark spirits, while oak offers a versatile, medium-bodied smokiness. Fruit woods like cherry and apple offer a light, sweet flavor that pairs well with many drinks. Other good choices include acacia, beech, carrotwood, eucalyptus, fig, guava, hackberry, madrone, olive, persimmon, and pecan. Avoid evergreen woods, as they will impart a bitter taste to your drinks.

7. Apple

Cocktail smoking has become a popular trend that has taken over the world. In the hands of a skilled mixologist, this unique technique can unlock a world of intense flavor combinations that will delight your taste buds and captivate your senses.

The type of wood used for smoking cocktails plays a huge role in the final flavor profile, so experimentation is key. However, it’s important to note that not all woods produce the same flavor and some types of wood work better with certain drinks.

For example, oak produces a light smoke that pairs well with whiskey and rum. This is because these spirits are often aged in oak barrels. Hickory, on the other hand, is known for producing a robust, bold smoke that can overwhelm some drinks. Therefore, hickory isn’t recommended for those who are just starting out with cocktail smoking.

To get started with cocktail smoking, invest in a professional-grade cocktail smoker that will allow you to control the amount of smoke and heat applied to your drink.