6 Smoked Bourbon Cocktails for Beginners and Pros

May 28, 2024 by Anna-Bet Stemmet

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Smoked bourbon cocktails have taken the world of DIY cocktails by storm, captivating seasoned and novice mixologists alike with their deliciously daring and sophisticated air. We love the way it elevates classic drinks and inspires innovative creations, ushering a superb series of reimagined clinkers into a class of their own.  

To a large extent, the allure of smoked bourbon drinks lies in the seductive nature of the smoke itself. Smoky notes hint at mystery, intrigue, and a touch of the unexpected— perfectly complementing the complexity of bourbon. 

Bourbon’s inherent sweetness and caramel notes also play beautifully with smoky undertones, making it the perfect spirit canvas for smoke. Its versatility allows for experimentation with various woods and herbs, further expanding the possibilities for interesting flavor combinations.  

Now, let’s delve deeper into the world of smoked bourbon cocktail recipes! 

Essential equipment and ingredients

Pouring shot of smoked syrup for bourbon cocktails

To craft the perfect smoked bourbon cocktail, you’ll need more than just your average bar setup. Here’s a rundown of the essential equipment and ingredients you’ll want to have on hand: 


  • Smoke gun: This nifty tool is the star of the show when it comes to infusing cocktails with that irresistible smoky flavor. Look for a quality smoke gun that allows you to control the intensity and type of smoke produced. 
  • While not essential, a smoking box can be a useful addition to your toolkit. It’s great for infusing larger batches of cocktails or experimenting with different smoking materials. 
  • Smoker lid and butane torch: A smoker lid is nicely portable and ideal for the home mixologist. 
  • Glassware: Choose high-quality glassware to showcase your smoked bourbon cocktails. Consider investing in a few specialty glasses or well-tempered coupe glasses to enhance the drinking experience. 
  • Bar tools: Don’t forget the basics; a shaker, jigger, strainer, and muddler will all come in handy when crafting your cocktails. 


  • Bourbon is the star of the show! Choose a high-quality bourbon with a rich flavor profile to serve as the base of your smoked cocktails. Look for brands that are known for their depth and complexity. 
  • Mixers: Depending on the cocktail you’re making, you’ll need various mixers, such as vermouth, bitters, citrus juices, and syrups. Go for fresh, high-quality ingredients to enhance the overall flavor of your drink. 
  • Wood chips: Experiment with different types of wood chips to achieve your desired flavor profile. Popular options include oak, cherry, apple, and hickory. For the best results, source wood chips specifically designed for smoking cocktails.  
  • Garnishes: Enhance your smoked bourbon cocktails with fresh, flavorful garnishes. Consider options like citrus peels, herbs, or even edible flowers for a visually stunning presentation. 

Tips for sourcing high-quality ingredients

Two Irish Whiskey Old Fashioned cocktails with fresh orange garnish served on a wooden platter

  • Shop local: Whenever possible, buy your ingredients from local producers and suppliers. Not only does this support small businesses, but it also ensures you’re getting the freshest, most flavorful ingredients available. Winning! 
  • Read reviews: Do your research before buying bourbon and other ingredients. Read online reviews or ask your fellow cocktail enthusiasts for recommendations to ensure you’re selecting top-quality products. 
  • Experiment: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of ingredients and smoking techniques. The beauty of cocktail-making lies in the endless possibilities, so feel free to get creative and discover your own signature smoked bourbon concoction. 
  • Invest wisely: While it’s tempting to skimp on equipment, investing in high-quality tools like a reliable smoke gun will pay off in the long run. Look for durable, well-reviewed products that offer precise control over the smoking process. 

Also see: The Best Cocktail Kit for Your Home Bar 

Choosing the best bourbon for smoked cocktails

Two smoked bourbon cocktails with smoke coming out of the glasses, chargrilled pineapple on the side

When selecting bourbon for smoked cocktails, it’s essential to consider several factors to achieve the desired flavor profile and quality of the drink.  

  • Flavor profile: Look for bourbons with robust and complex flavor profiles that can stand up to the addition of smoke. Bourbons with notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, and spice tend to work well in smoked cocktails, as these flavors complement and enhance the smokiness. 
  • Age: While age isn’t always an indicator of quality, older bourbons often have more developed flavors and a smoother finish. However, younger bourbons can also bring vibrant and lively characteristics to smoked cocktails. Consider experimenting with different age expressions to find the right balance of flavor and complexity for your drink. 
  • Price point: Bourbon prices vary widely, so it’s essential to consider your budget when selecting a bottle for smoked cocktails. While there are plenty of excellent bourbons available at more affordable price points, higher-priced options may offer more nuanced flavors and a smoother drinking experience. Ultimately, choose a bourbon that fits your budget and your taste preferences. 
  • Mash bill: Pay attention to the bourbon’s mash bill, which refers to the combination of grains used in its production. Bourbons with higher proportions of corn tend to be sweeter and more approachable, while those with higher rye or wheat content can bring spicier or softer flavors to the cocktail—depending on the bourbon you’re using. Before choosing a bottle, consider how the mash bill will influence the overall flavor profile of your smoked cocktail. 
  • Personal preference: At the end of the day, the best bourbon for smoked cocktails is ultimately subjective and depends on your personal taste preferences. Experiment with different bourbons to find the one that resonates most with your palate and complements the other ingredients in your cocktail recipe. 

Our go-to bourbons for smoked cocktails

Wide shot of a cabinet behind a bar filled with different types of whiskey all in different bottles

Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey has been making their 101 range the same way for 60 years, in American White Oak barrels coated in the deepest alligator char. Wild Turkey 101 is a gorgeous bourbon with a vanilla and cinnamon aroma, caramel notes, baking spice flavors, and a spice-and-orange peel finish. 

Master’s Keep One

Expertly crafted in toasted oak barrels, Master’s Keep One bourbon whiskey is aged for up to 14 years. It comes to the table with bold vanilla, butterscotch, caramel notes, sweet honey tones, and a fresh and lingering toasted oak finish. 

American Honey

American Honey bourbon – a delicious 71-proof bourbon that’s blended with real honey – is clean, bright, and smooth. The production process combines deep-rooted tradition with a modern twist, resulting in a compelling bourbon with real honey sweetness. 

Wilderness Trail Small Batch Bottled in Bond Bourbon

Wilderness Trail Small Batch Bottled in Bond Bourbon is matured in a mix of heavily charred and toasted barrels. Its aromas of buttered popcorn, cinnamon French toast, salted butter, and maple syrup fill the nose, while lashings of cherry jam, oak, and butter linger on the palate. 

Also see: The Easy Guide to Fat-Washing Cocktails at Home 

Cocktail smoking techniques and methods

An Old Fashioned smoked bourbon cocktail being infused with smoke inside a glass cloche

There are quite a few ways to add smoke to cocktails. If this is the first time you’re making smoked drinks, we suggest starting with the smoker lid. 

  • Smoking gun: A smoke gun offers precise control over smoke infusion. Wood chips or herbs are loaded into the chamber and ignited, and the resulting smoke is directed into a sealed container holding the cocktail. This method allows for meticulous selection of smoke type (wood, herb) and precise control over smoke intensity. 
  • Smoking box: A smoking box is a versatile tool for infusing cocktails with smoke. The cocktail is placed inside a sealed box alongside wood chips or herbs. Smoke is then added, either using a smoke gun or another heat source. The sealed box ensures efficient smoke infusion into the drink. 
  • Smoker lid: A smoker lid fits on top of a glass, and features a small hole covered in a metal mesh. To use it, add some wood chips to the chimney, then light it with a butane torch or smoker gun. The smoke will float down into the drink to infuse it. 
  • Smoked glassware: Pre-smoking glassware imparts a subtle smoky character to the finished drink. This technique involves briefly exposing the empty glass to smoke from burning wood chips or herbs.  As you pour the cocktail, the smoke “sticks” to the moistened glass surface, releasing the aroma. 
  • Smoked ingredients: You can directly incorporate smoke into a cocktail by using smoked ingredients. Smoked simple syrups, bitters, and even ice cubes can add layers of smoky complexity to the drink’s flavor profile. 
  • Charred garnishes: Char garnishes, such as citrus peels or herbs, using a torch or open flame to add a smoky element to the cocktail presentation.  This technique infuses the drink with a subtle smoky aroma and flavor. 

Learn more: Smokin’ Hot on TikTok: How to Smoke Cocktails 

Best smoked bourbon cocktail recipes

Whether you choose to smoke your cocktails using a smoke gun, a smoking box, a cloche or a smoking lid, the following cocktails all look very dapper in a smoking jacket: 

1. Smoked Old Fashioned

Top view of rich Old Fashioned Cocktails with Orange peel garnish

The classic Old Fashioned gets a smoky twist, enhancing its rich bourbon flavor with a tantalizing depth. The smoky infusion adds layers of complexity, complementing the sweetness of the sugar and the bite of the aromatic bitters, creating a sensory experience that elevates this timeless cocktail to new heights. 

Make it with: Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon 

Learn more: Manhattan vs Old Fashioned Cocktail: What is the Difference? 

2. Revolver

Two bourbon-based Revolver Cocktails garnished with flamed orange twists against a pewter backdrop with a peeled orange and a container of bourbon in the background

A smoked Revolver cocktail takes the boldness of bourbon and the warmth of coffee liqueur to a new level. The smoky essence intertwines with the robust flavors, yielding a sophisticated profile that dances on the palate. The smoky notes harmonize with the cocktail’s sweetness, resulting in a balanced and enticing drink that captivates with every sip.  

3. Paper Plane

Paper plane cocktail served in front of a crackling fire

Infusing a Paper Plane cocktail with smoke adds a captivating dimension to its bright and zesty flavors. The smokiness complements the tartness of the lemon juice and the herbal notes of the amaro, amplifying the cocktail’s complexity. Each sip is a journey of contrasting tastes, ending with a lingering smoky finish that enhances the cocktail’s vibrant character. 

Make it with: Aperol 

More here: 9 Paper Plane Variations to Make at Home 

4. Rob Roy

Rob Roy Cocktail with cherry garnish

Elevate the elegance of a Rob Roy cocktail with a touch of smoke, accentuating its refined blend of bourbon and vermouth. The smoky infusion deepens the cocktail’s richness, enhancing the interplay between the sweet and herbal components.  

Make it with: Cinzano Vermouth Rosso 

5. Vieux Carre

Vieux Carrè cocktail

Introducing smoke to a Vieux Carre cocktail enhances its intricate medley of flavors, bringing out the nuances of the bourbon, vermouth, and herbal liqueur. The smoky infusion adds a layer of depth to the cocktail, intertwining with the sweetness and spice to create a harmonious balance. With its complex profile and lingering smoky finish, this cocktail becomes an irresistible indulgence for the senses. 

Make it with: Averna Amaro 

6. Bourbon Watermelon

Bourbon Watermelon Cocktails with mint garnish

Smoking a Bourbon Watermelon cocktail enhances the refreshing sweetness of the watermelon and the warmth of the bourbon. The smokiness adds complexity to the cocktail’s vibrant flavors, creating a delightful contrast that is a joy from start to finish. With each sip, the smoky undertones mingle with the fruity notes, offering a uniquely satisfying drinking experience that is both refreshing and indulgent. 

Exploring the world of smoked bourbon cocktails

Close-up image of a couple clinking glasses of whiskey with clear ice

Smoked bourbon cocktails are no longer a niche trend, but a booming movement in the mixology scene. Bars and restaurants worldwide are embracing the smoky revolution, offering innovative creations that tantalize taste buds.  

As you delve deeper into this world, keep an eye out for these emerging trends: 

  • Toasted oak bourbons: Look for bourbons finished in toasted oak bourbon barrels, adding an extra layer of complexity without the need for at-home smoking. 
  • Infused smokes: Experiment with using smoke from herbs, spices, or even teas to create unique flavor profiles in your cocktails. 
  • Cocktails & grilled food pairings: Explore the world of smoked food pairings. Smoky cheeses, grilled meats, and even smoked vegetables can beautifully complement your smoked bourbon creations. 

The possibilities for smoked bourbon cocktails are truly endless. With a little experimentation and creativity, you can become a master of this captivating trend, crafting impressive and unique drinks that will have your guests yearning for more. So, fire up your smoker (or grab a bottle of barrel-smoked bourbon) and embark on a smoky adventure in the world of mixology! More inspiration awaits on the Wild Turkey and Wilderness Trail Distillery websites.  

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