If you’ve spent any time perusing some of the recipes here at Slightly Pretentious, you’ve probably figured out that I like smoky things.
You name it, if it’s smoky, I’m all about it (funny considering I don’t smoke).
So a few years ago when it became en vogue to actually smoke your cocktails, I was all for it. I still remember the first one I ever had at Quinary in Hong Kong. Not only did it add a unique flavor to the drink, but it was about as cool as it gets as far as presentation goes.
Here’s a cringe worthy vlog of that experience from back when I was young…
A couple years ago I got a budget cocktail smoker, that frankly – just never worked that well. It was clumsy, poorly made, and wasn’t worth the $40+ it costs.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Crafthouse Smoker that is beautiful – but at nearly $300? Probably not going to be for the average cocktail connoisseur.
Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve finally found a reasonably priced cocktail smoking kit, that works great, won’t break the bank, and delivers consistently smoky cocktails.
What is it?
Smoke Boards is a new company that recognized the same thing that I did: there’s an interest and a need for a good cocktail smoker – but there was a bit of a void in the market.
I’m excited to report that this lived up to my expectation and then some.
What Do You Get with Smoke Boards Cocktail Kit?
I ordered my Smoke Boards kit off Amazon, and didn’t totally know what to expect.
It showed up quickly, and came in a canvas bag to hold all the goods.
Inside the bag was a butane torch, a wood smoking plank, a mason jar, and 3 types of wood chips: pecan, apple, and cherry.
The quality of everything is fine. It’s not the most robust torch, but I’ve made about a dozen cocktails with it now, and it’s worked great every single time.
The biggest appeal for a kit like this is that you truly have everything you need all in one convenient package. As someone who constantly has stuff strewn around the house, it was nice to have a case where I could pack it all up, and be able to easily pull it out when needed. This also makes it an excellent cocktail gift as well.
When I first opened it, I was disappointed it didn’t come with butane, which you need for the gun to work. But then when I started thinking about the legalities of mailing that – it made more sense. A quick run down to the store, and I was good to go.
How Does the Smoke Board Cocktail Smoker Perform?
On my inaugural night of receiving and reviewing the kit, my sole goal was to test it out, try all of the different wood chips, a few different ways to smoke drinks – and form some opinions.
From the beginning, everything worked exactly as I expected it to.
For the first drink, we opted to make a Pecan Smoked Old Fashioned following the suggested smoking method detailed within the kit.
To do this, it suggests you flame the wood on the smoke board, put the included mason jar over it to let it gather the smoke, and then pour your cocktail in, mix it around, and then strain over
This method worked great. There were two big surprises I had with this first cocktail:
- How much smoke stayed in the mason jar. Between turning it over, pouring in the cocktail, and tightening it, I expected most of the smoke to come out. This wasn’t the case, as it tended to stay in the jar, making the process easy.
- How much the smoke changed the flavor. Using the method of swishing the cocktail around in the mason jar, truly added a new level of complexity and flavor that I wasn’t expecting. It was fantastic.
Which Wood is the Best for Your Cocktails?
For our second drink, I made a cocktail that I’ll write about soon on the site, I call a Smoking Pirate. It’s a combination of smoky scotch, rum, and bourbon that is, well, smoky. So this seemed like the perfect cocktail to test the Smoke Board out on.
For this one, we used cherry wood, which ended up being my favorite. It had a sweeter flavor than the other two, and has worked really well regardless of what I use it in.
For this one, we tried to forgo the mason jar and used a cloche – you know, to be pretentious.
Frankly, it didnt’t work nearly as well or add as much flavor as the mason jar did. So if you’re looking to really add smoke flavor and not just use it for theatrics, I’d recommend doing that.
For our final drink of the first night, I made one of my signature drinks, the Smoking Banana – which combines mezcal, Smith and Cross rum, and Banane du Brasil. We used the applewood for this one, and went back to the mason jar method.
It worked great, and the Apple also had a nice flavor – though I still prefer cherry. I was surprised by how much I noticed the different tastes and flavors each type of wood produced.
Final Thoughts on the Smoke Boards Cocktail Smoker
A lot of the smoking guns, have tubes you attach for a little bit more directional smoking. The cheap one I have uses this, and again it never really worked properly.
So I really appreciated this method of just smoking it on the board itself. Not only does it make the process easier, but there’s more visual flare involved which makes it a lot of fun to use when hosting guests.
At $89 it’s much cheaper than the really high-end smokers, and has everything you need to start making delicious smoked cocktails.
What are the Best Smoked Cocktails?
What’s great about a smoked cocktail is you can truly add a new and unique flavor to your drink. Obviously, this method works well with whiskey drinks, but I wouldn’t be afraid to experiment with other spirits as well. Rum has worked well, and even a smoked martini could be super interesting.
But here are a few of our favorite recipes you might try smoking with your new cocktail smoker:
- Peach Old Fashioned – Go for a true southern take on an old classic with pecan smoke and peach.
- Mezcal Margarita – The smoke from the mezcal could make this an interesting drink to try and smoke.
- Manhattan – Next to an old fashioned, this would be the most obvious starting point for a smoked drink.