The first step to creating the perfect smoke for your cocktail is to find a person of whom you can spend the rest of days. Why is this so important? Well, because then, you can get married and somebody will (hopefully) buy you the sweet battery powered smoking gun that you registered for. This machine is meant to cold smoke, so add flavor not cook (think bacon). It has just two switches, high and low – high to ignite the chips and low to deliver the actual smoke. The model I received comes with four types of wood: Hickory, Cherrywood, Applewood, and Mesquite. In this recipe, I like to use Cherrywood – most Old Fashioned recipes will call for a maraschino cherry and since I do not like to look at a neon red grape squished at the bottom of my glass, this is a nice way of still getting that sweeten tart flavor.
Bitters are essentially a highly concentrated alcohol mixed with water and various botanicals/herbs that add a, well, bitter taste. Drinking this stuff straight would be like chugging Worcestershire sauce (not recommended). There are several variations of bitters from around the world but for our purposes here, we are using Angostura Orange Bitters.
Orange. Simply, a twist of orange. You can use lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc. but for this recipe use an orange as it compliments both the bitters and the whiskey. There are fancy garnishing tools that you can purchase to achieve your twist but that thing that peels your potato will work just fine. If you plan to make several of these bad boys (for either a group or just yourself – no judgments), make sure to buy enough oranges to have a fresh peel each time you make another. Yes, you will have a grove of naked oranges. Congrats, fresh OJ for your mimosas in the morning.
1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil with heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. I prefer to use simple syrup to add the sugar aspect of this beverage. Traditionalists will tell you that a sugar cube grinded with a muddler amidst the bitters is the proper way. However, simple syrup is simple. Also, the syrup can be quite versatile – infuse with orange zest here for another depth of flavor or with mint for a classic Julep come Derby season. For now, we keep it simple.
The Old Fashioned is a bourbon drink so we will focus on bourbon. In order to be bourbon you have to be mostly corn, American, and most importantly for us today – aged in charred oak barrels. It is as if smoke and the Old Fashioned are meant to be. Maker’s Mark is a popular bourbon for mixing in cocktails as it has a less rye spice flavor to it while also providing honey, vanilla, toffee, and fruity notes. Woodford Reserve is another choice for us as it provides that smoky aroma with additional hints of espresso, citrus, and leather/tobacco. Both great choices, but I prefer Bulleit Bourbon (orange label). Bulleit has a higher rye content so it’s going to come off a bit spicier than other brands but, it also carries strong notes of orange peel, cherry, and oak smoke.
You do not want to have a warm beverage and you do not want to have a watered-down beverage. We can easily solve this conundrum with two different types of frozen water. The first to consider is which ice will make it into your actual glass. This needs to be a larger cut of ice – either of the sphere or cube variety. My recommendation is, mimic the shape of whatever the rocks glass is – round or squared. Mine is round so let us go with the sphere (also it is easier to swirl in your hand). The second ice needs to be what we put into the cocktail shaker; this can be the plain ole cubes your refrigerator is making for you as we speak. Just make sure that you use enough cubes so they work together to keep the drink cold and not melt.
2 oz Bourbon (Bulleit)
2-3 Dashes Bitters (Angostura Orange)
¼ oz Simple Syrup
1 Twist of Orange Peel
1. The time has come – we are ready to reward ourselves with the sweet and smoky elixir that is the Smoked Old Fashioned cocktail. Gather all your ingredients in one spot – you don’t want to be running all over the kitchen when you have wood on fire and ice melting. If your shaker doesn’t have a lid or you are just improving with a pint glass, you’re going to want to consider something that can keep the smoke within the vessel – a paper plate or some plastic wrap will work just fine.
2. Start by filling the shaker halfway with ice cubes. Continue on by adding your liquids to the shaker – the bourbon, the bitters, and the syrup. Most jiggers will come in 1oz and 2oz increments – use these as a guide for the bourbon and simple syrup.
3. At this point, it’s time to smoke. Place the Cherrywood chips into the chamber and hold a lighter to the chips while turning the gun on the high setting. As soon as you see smoke start to appear out of the hose, switch the gun to the lower setting and place the hose in the cocktail shaker. Let the smoke fill the container for 10 seconds or so, until the shaker is completely full. Once you are satisfied with your level of smoke, quickly remove the hose and attach the lid (or plate/wrap). Entrap the smoke and let it marinade over the ice and within the whiskey for one minute.
4. While you’re waiting for your cocktail to breathe in the Cherrywood, place your ice cube sphere in your rocks glass. Rim the glass with the orange peel by running the inside of the peel around the edge of the glass. Twist the peel and place in the glass – this ensures each sip will include a dose of citrus oil on your lips.
5. When your time is up, give your shaker two or three good shakes (a typical Old Fashioned is just spun with a bar spoon so you don’t have to hammer this thing like you would a margarita) to bring all the ingredients together. Unearth your creation and pour slowly to cascade over the ball of ice in your glass. Enjoy!
6. *Additional serving options include pouring the cocktail from the shaker in front of whomever you’re serving it to or reigniting the smoking gun and entrapping another layer of smoke on top the beverage in the glass with plastic wrap and having them peel it off at the table. Again, these are just options to put a little show to the tell – up to you, it’s delicious either way.