Liquid smoke can be used to impart woodsy, charred flavours to cocktails, but it’s a little one-note. Smoky wood is an excellent flavour, but why stop there when you could flavour your cocktail with smoky tea, smoky cinnamon, or smoky star anise?
If you don’t have a smoker or a grill, this may feel slightly out of your grasp, but I assure you it is very attainable. In fact anyone, even apartment dwellers like myself, can enjoy smoked cocktails without a smoker, grill, or even any wood.
According to smoking/grilling/BBQ-ing expert Meathead Goldwyn of AmazingRibs.com all you need is a glass, a source of fire, and something flavourful to set on fire. I tried star anise and cinnamon, and while I found both pleasing, star anise was the winner. It added smoke, obviously, but there was a caramelised, almost burnt candy quality to the aroma and flavour that I found quite pleasing. (I tried it with water to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating flavour; it really works!)
It’s also very easy, which I always appreciate. First, you’ll need to wet and chill a glass. Smoke sticks to cold things, so swirl some water around in there, dump it out, and pop the glass in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Next, mix your drink. Set that aside. Grab an uncoated pan (or an oak plank), and set your flavourful offering to the gods of merriment in the centre. Light it up.
You can use a match, but a torch is quicker (and more fun). When it starts to smoke, invert the chilled glass over it. Once the glass is full with dense, swirling smoke, carefully flip it right side up and pour your cocktail in. Add some ice, garnish with your smoky star anise pod, and enjoy.