Smoking & drinking

If you appreciate a rich, smoky Scotch or mezcal, you may enjoy a drink infused with real smoke that you generate and capture yourself. Or you may just want to hold the fire extinguisher

I’ve ordered “actually smoked” drinks several times while patronizing the kind of crafty bars that do this type of thing.

I refer to beverages where a live flame is used to carbonize artisanal wood, the smoke is captured in the glass and forced into the liquid, and the result is served while the mist is still rising.

I’ve always enjoyed the ritualized pyrotechnics, the self-conscious showmanship of barkeep, the delighted buzz of the patrons who haven’t previously witnessed a drink whose preparation would alarm the fire marshal.

Yup: Time to give this a try at home!

How to smoke & drink

  1. Mix up a simple, citrus-free drink: Your favorite Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Negroni, etc. [Shown: Rittenhouse rye, Antica Carpano vermouth, orange bitters.] Stir, no ice: Smoked drinks are best served at room temperature. Prepare your garnish.
  2. Go outside, or at least do this over your stove top with the exhaust fan roaring.
  3. Grab one of those grilling planks of cedar, pine, birch, etc. that you find at kitchen stores, hardware stores, and some groceries.
  4. Use a kitchen torch, or a hand-held propane canister with a brass nozzle, to ignite the wood. Don’t be a fire wuss! Get a big ol’ flame going. You need to generate sufficient smoke density.
  5. Invert a sturdy Old Fashioned glass over the burned spot
  6. Delight as you watch the chamber fill with mist.
  7. Flip the glass over, pour in your mixture, and slap a saucer or piece of wood on top. This “pushes” the smoke into the beverage, effectively forcing the liquid and gas to intermingle.
  8. Give it a minute. Pull off the cap, run your citrus garnish along the rim, drop it in.

Smoking & drinking & tasting

  • Oh, it’s smoky all right.
  • By “smoke” I don’t refer to the metaphorical scent of a peaty scotch or heady mezcal. I refer to the vivid, slightly alarming smell of a brush fire by the side of an Arizona freeway.
  • At first, the smoke overpowers anything in the glass. Like a game of professional baseball or a first date, the first few minutes are the most difficult to tolerate.
  • As the gas dissipates, however, you wind up with a libation that’s as good as whatever you mixed up, but with a layer of satisfying, vivid smoky notes.

Would I do it again? Sure.

But I think I’m more likely to repeat this with friends, or at one of A Measured Spirit’s legendary cocktail parties. Like I said, I enjoy the pyrotechnics, the showmanship, the warm buzz of the crowd.

Oh, one final ingredient I forgot to mention: Fire extinguisher.

The Cocktail-o-Matic

A long-forgotten 1950s product applies “modern” technologies to re-invent the ink-on-paper cocktail recipe book. You can figure out how this one ends

The 1950s were the flowering of American modernity — an aesthetic sensibility, tugged along by a newly affluent middle class, devoted to clean lines, simple forms, and a sense of an urgent new century unfolding.

The 1950s were also some really stupid times.

Witness the Bar Guide.

Bar Guide Measured Spirit cocktail recipes Craig Stoltz blog
The Bar Guide: A 1950s technology breakthrough that failed spectacularly to make paper-bound cocktail recipe books obsolete. Pictured at right: #79, the XYZ cocktail.

The Bar Guide is a shiny plastic device the size of a Canasta deck that updates the cocktail recipe book with “hep” modern technologies like plastic, newfangled printing methods, and a cool thumb wheel with traction grooves.

Its chief accomplishment appears to be transforming something that works quite well into something that’s confusing, hard to use, and easy to break.

And this was way before the Barnes & Noble “Nook GlowLight Plus.”

I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 80

Located at the heart of the Bar Guide is a paper scroll bearing 80 numbered cocktail recipes, each condensed to the size of a fortune cookie.

Continue reading “The Cocktail-o-Matic”

Pimp my Gin & Tonic

So I was in the butcher shop, of all places, and came across a cocktail curiosity completely new to me: Carmencita’s Botanicals for Gin & Tonic.

Essentially the product provides little bits of some of the botanicals often found in gin. You plop them into your Gin & Tonic to add additional flavor and scents and whatnot.

This kit ($6.95) contains pink peppercorns, juniper berries, cardamom pods, and hibiscus flowers.
Cocktail blog Craig Stoltz Carmencita Gin and Tonic Recipe A Measured Spirit

Gimmicky?  Sure! But it’s a pretty nifty way to dress up an often samey standby.

First, the visuals are great — vivid, colorful little things either stirred below the ice or resting on top, or both. As the minutes pass the hibiscus bleeds off some of its crimson hue, creating a floaty red smudge.

Gin & tonic recipe Craig Stoltz A Measured Spirit cocktail blog
The Carmencita: Just add gin and tonic.

Flavors? Less so, but still usefully additive.

The cardamom provides a surprisingly nice nose. [On my second experiment I gently broke the shell of the pods and the effect was enhanced. In time the pink peppercorns add some bite. The juniper? Seems redundant, and I’m not sure you need to turn up that flavor in a gin.

I know what you’re thinking. [I always know what you’re thinking. How do I do it?] Can’t you just buy the spices and and save a lot of money?

Why, yes, I can. And I will.

I’ll thank Carmencita every time.

 

The Great Stupid Cocktail Toy Giveaway

Tell me what this thing is, and win it for your collection of pointless cocktail curios.

So I posted on the Twitter machine a photo of one of the more pointless pieces of cocktail paraphernalia in my growing collection.

My offer: Identify this device, explain what it’s used for, and it’s yours. I will timely send it to you by US mail, and within a cheerful civil servant will deliver it to your door with a smile. You can start using it for  _______________  immediately.

I like to think of it as paying it forward. Or debiting it forward, if you like.

Not one taker so far.

And so I turn to both loyal readers of A Measured Spirit.

Anybody?