Smoking and drinking are often intertwined, but have you ever had a cocktail that incorporated smoke as part of the experience? Smoky cocktails are a relatively recent invention, but the addition of smoke to your favorite beverage adds a new layer of flavor and briskness that's hard to imitate.
If a smoked cocktail sounds a bit intense to you, don't worry. We have a suitable alternative that delivers all the boldness of real smoke but without the risk of setting off a fire alarm. The Salt 'n' Smoke Mocktail is a true original, and it's the perfect drink to break out at parties and gatherings.
Oh, did we not mention that this is a low-alcohol cocktail? So, whether you're trying to stay sober or just want something healthier, this beverage has you covered. Break out your best cocktail glasses, it's Salt 'n' Smoke time!
The History of Smoky Cocktails
Typically, class cocktail recipes date back hundreds of years, most often to the mid and late 1800s. However, smoked cocktails have only been around since this millennium, so they're a relatively new phenomenon. That said, just because something is fresh and hip doesn't mean it's not destined for the annals of history.
Think back to the year 2007. The San Antonio Spurs were facing off against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they would ultimately take the prize and the NBA Championship. In the world of entertainment, the Sopranos, a show that objectively kicked off a new television renaissance, aired its series finale. If you were a fan of The Price is Right, you know that 2007 marked the end of Bob Barker's long and illustrious career as the show's host.
2007 was also the year that the first smoked cocktail officially hit the scene. It's possible that bartenders in decades past had experimented with adding smoke to their creations, but no one was brave enough to unveil their creations to the world at large.
Enter New York bartender Eben Freeman.
Freeman was a mixologist at a relatively swanky bar named Tailor. According to legend, the drink was named after Waylon Jennings, the outlaw country music superstar. The aptly named Waylon was basically a bourbon and coke with smoke added to the mix. Technically, it was smoked Coca-Cola, which undoubtedly required something of a chemistry degree to get right.
Because Tailor was a popular hangout and many country music fans adore Waylon Jennings, the cocktail marked the start of a new trend. Soon enough, bartenders were experimenting with smoked ingredients, from smoked salt for a margarita to smoked herbs that blend into the beverage itself. True mixologists will add real smoke, while non-professionals (like us) work with the liquid variety instead. Both options are suitable, although real smoke is far more photogenic for social media.
How to Incorporate a Low-Alcohol Salt and Smoke Into Your Holiday Plans
As the holiday season approaches, that means parties, gatherings, get-togethers, box socials, and more. As you look forward to spending time with family and friends, the question invariably arises - what will people drink? Thankfully, alcohol-free whiskey and other spirits are becoming trendy, so you don't have to worry about having a few too many and letting your guard down a little too much at the office party. Also, if you want to keep Thanksgiving healthy and drama-free, switching to a whiskey-alternative makes a lot of sense.
The Salt 'n' Smoke is an excellent mocktail that works for all occasions and holidays. So, whether you're observing Sober October or want Christmas to go smoothly, this recipe should stay in your back pocket. Even better, you can make it with a few choice ingredients, so you don't need a full bar (or a handheld torch) to get it right.
What You'll Need to Make a Low Alcohol Salt and Smoke Cocktail
Ideally, you can mix all your ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain it into a tumbler or short cocktail glass. However, if you don't have a shaker on hand, you can stir the ingredients with a spoon or official swizzle stick. This recipe also calls for some pre-preparation if you want the cocktail to be a bit smoother on the back end.
As far as ingredients, you'll need:
- 2 oz Mashville Non-Alcoholic Whiskey
- 1/4 oz Maple Syrup (slightly diluted in hot water)
- 5 Dashes of Crude Smoke & Salt Bitters
How to Make a Low-Alcohol Salt and Smoke Cocktail
The trick to this recipe is making sure the maple syrup isn't too thick. Otherwise, it won't mix well with the rest of the ingredients, instead settling on the bottom and making it harder to enjoy its robust and sweet flavor. While you can thin the syrup with hot water (cold water won't mix), you need to add just enough to make it smooth but not so much that you're diluting the taste of the beverage.
Overall, we recommend practicing a few times until you get it right. From there, it's much easier to get consistent results. Alternatively, if you don't want to put in that much work, you can add the syrup last and make your Salt 'n' Smoke a layered beverage.
Once you dilute your maple syrup, all you need to do is mix everything in a cocktail shaker with some ice. Then, strain the cocktail into a glass with ice cubes inside. Toast and enjoy!
Alternative Recipe Options for a Low-Alcohol Salt and Smoke
The great thing about this cocktail is its simplicity. However, there are several ways to make it your own and put a spin on it, such as:
- Use Simple Syrup - While this ingredient doesn't add the extra panache of maple syrup, it does mix a lot more easily, so you can save time and hassle.
- Add an Orange Twist - Citrus can help wake up the flavors in this cocktail and deliver a more exceptional experience. Oranges are the best option because they're more sweet than sour.
- Use Real Smoke - If you want to flex your mixology skills, you can create real smoke by burning wood pellets (i.e., the ones used for barbecue). We recommend practicing this beforehand, so you know how to collect the smoke and add it to the mix. Traditionally, you put the smoke in the glass before pouring the drink inside. This way, the residue adds flavor without overwhelming the cocktail.
If you want to make more mocktails, be sure to get the Seir Hill triple pack, including Mashville, Durangold tequila alternative, and Biscane rum alternative. This package makes a great gift, and it can help you improve your mixology game