What are cocktail smoker wood chips?

Cocktail smoker wood chips are small pieces of wood that are used for smoking or flavoring drinks such as cocktails and mocktails. They come in different varieties, each of which offers a distinct aroma and smoke flavor. The wood chips are burned in a smoker gun, smoker box, or vessel, which will be used to infuse the smoke into cocktails. Some of the most popular types of wood chips used for smoking cocktails include oak, cherry, apple, hickory, and mesquite.

Cocktail smoker wood chips

Different Woods, Different Flavors

As mentioned earlier, cocktail smoker wood chips come in different types of wood, which affects the smell and taste of the smoked cocktails. Let’s get acquainted with the best wood for smoking cocktails.

Oak Wood Chips:

Oak woods are the most commonly used wood chips in cocktails. The scent and taste produced by oak wood chips are stronger than cherry and apple, but milder than mesquite and hickory. They are versatile and can add a toasty, vanilla-like flavor to your drinks. As whiskey and rum are frequently stored in oak barrels, the smoky flavor of oak complements their taste.

Cherry Wood Chips:

Cherry woods are popular for their fruity aroma and sweet undertones. Cherry is a good choice for beginners starting with smoked cocktails because it has a subtle and intricate flavor. They are perfect for drinks like margaritas, sangrias, and mojitos.

Apple Wood Chips:

Apple woods add a sweet, fruity, and mild flavor to your cocktails. They are perfect for drinks like whiskey and lemonade or a spiced apple cider.

Hickory Wood Chips:

Hickory woods are the boldest of all the wood chips that can be used for smoking cocktails. Hickory complements cocktails with strong flavors such as bourbon or dark rum. They produce a strong aroma and smoky flavor that can assault the senses if over-smoked. Not usually recommended for those just getting into smoked cocktails.

Mesquite Wood Chips:

Mesquite woods have a smoky and earthy flavor that can add a Southwestern feel to your cocktails. In a class of their own, the mesquite wood chips create a bold smoky flavor with an almost bitter finish.

The Other Guys

Less frequently used, but often sold in smoker gun kit gifts, are flavors such as peach, alder, and pecan wood. I have seen pear and olive on occasion as well, but I have never used them. Be sure to experiment. Grab a multi-flavor kit, and have some fun combining flavors.

Cocktail Smoker Wood Chips

Artificially Flavored Wood Chips

Although I feel embarrassed for even bringing this up, beware, there are artificially flavored wood chips available on the market. Steer clear and be sure the provider indicates that the chips are made from all-natural hardwoods, with no artificial flavors, chemicals, or preservatives. Consider buying smaller size batches if you won't be smoking cocktails frequently. Just like many products with those unnatural additives, you'll be able to taste them, along with the disappointment they'll express.

To Soak or Not To Soak?

No. The short answer is that you do not need to soak wood chips before use. If you soak wood chips in any liquid and then dry them out before cocktail smoking, they will still retain the moisture from the liquid. When you use soaked wood chips, they will not begin to smoke until the moisture has been removed from them, which can make the process more difficult than necessary. So you don’t need to soak wood chips before smoking cocktails at all. The debate about soaking wood chunks or large wood chips for barbecuing rages on. That's a different topic for another day.

How to infuse cocktail smoker wood chips into your drinks?

To smoke cocktails, you’ll need a smoker box or a cocktail smoking gun. It’s a device used to hold the wood chips while smoking. Here’s how to use them:

Smoker Guns

Firstly, smoker guns are the most popular of the three tools. They are easy to use and produce a lot of smoke. Smoker guns are designed to infuse cocktails with smoke and flavor in just a few seconds. They are small, handheld devices that are easy to use. Some smoking guns can be attached to blenders, shakers, or any containers used for mixing cocktails.

To use a smoking gun, you'll first need to pack the smoking gun burn chamber with wood chips. Different types of wood produce different smokey flavors, so choose one that complements your cocktail (we discussed more about smoke flavors before). Once the chamber is packed, simply ignite the smoking gun and aim the smoke toward your to be smoked cocktail. If your smoking gun comes with a glass cloche or dome lid, place this over your cocktail to trap the smoke.

Smoker Boards

Place a small amount of one of the types of the kit’s wood chips on the smoke board and light them on fire using the provided torch. Wait for the flames to go out so you don't overheat the cocktail glass. Place the glass over the smoldering chips to allow it to fill with smoke. Some put a cover on the glass (such as a coaster) and shake it up with the spirit to dissolve the smoke. I’ve tried adding just the whiskey or bourbon and adding the entire cocktail. I feel I got better results infusing the spirit itself and then making the cocktail out of the infused alcohol of choice, than I did by infusing the entire cocktail.

Culinary Torch

When using a culinary butane torch, the process is slightly different. After packing the torch with butane gas, use it to light the wood chips. Then, cover your cocktail with a glass or dome lid to trap the smoke. Remember to keep the flame away from any flammable materials and never leave the torch unattended.

Culinary butane torches are ideal for heating the surface of a cocktail to add some extra smoky flavor. Butane torches allow for control of the intensity of the smoky flavor added to the cocktails. This method is preferred when the cocktail surface is substantial enough to hold onto the smoky flavor. Many of these torches are also used for smoking food as well.

Finally, transfer your drink to glasses and enjoy sipping your smoky cocktail.

Cocktail Smoker Wood Chips

Putting A Lid On Things

Adding cocktail smoker wood chips to your cocktails can make a world of difference to the flavor and aroma. Whether you’re hosting a party at home or shaking up drinks for yourself, smoking your drinks with wood chips can impress your audience and elevate your cocktail game to the next level. So go ahead and experiment with different types of wood chips and discover the unique flavors and scents that they can add to your cocktails.

The Best Cocktail Smoker Kits Have You Reaching For A Drink ASAP!
Craft your own delicious drinks at home - just add alcohol, flame, and smoke! Come along with me as we explore the art of imparting cold smoke into cocktails.
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