You Can Now Make Cocktails with Smoked Ice—Here’s How

Smoky cocktails are popular, but have you ever tried smoked ice? It's easy and adds zing to your drink.

Everyone seems to be smoking everything these days—from smoked brisket or mac-and-cheese to smoked holiday turkey or ham. Smoke is so trendy that it’s wafted its way over to the bar. The smoked old fashioned has become a cocktail menu staple, and tequila’s smoky cousin mezcal is soaring in popularity. But the easiest way to add a little smokiness to your drink is with smoke ice.

What is Smoked Ice?

Smoked ice is simply water that has been exposed to wood smoke, either in a grill or smoker, for a few hours. The smoked water is then frozen in molds to make ice cubes. It’s that simple. You can even play around with different shapes from fun ice cube trays. Once they’ve frozen, add the smoked ice cubes to spice up any classic drink, such as a bloody mary, whiskey sour, old fashioned, or a bourbon apple cider cocktail.

Is Smoked Ice the Same as Liquid Smoke?

No, smoked ice is not the same as liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is a somewhat controversial product, made from collecting water vapor from wood chips burned at high heat. After the vapor is captured and condensed, it’s filtered and bottled. The problem is that some manufacturers of liquid add chemicals, dyes, and artificial flavorings. While there are some delicious recipes that use liquid smoke, do not use it to make smoked ice for cocktails.

How to Make Smoked Ice

Tools and Ingredients

All you need is water, a heat-resistant bowl or pan, and a smoker or grill.


Step 1: Light Your Grill or Smoker and Choose Your Wood

If you have a smoker, just light and set it to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Wood chips that are sweeter and fruiter, such as applewood or cherry work best, but if you like that campfire taste, mesquite or hickory work, too.

If you have a grill, it’s easy to turn your grill into a smoker. Soak the wood chips in water, drain, and then add them to your charcoal grill after the coals die down. For a gas grill, wrap the wood chips in foil with poked holes for steam to escape and add the package to the cooking grate.

Remember: Water boils at 212 degrees! You don’t want to lose any water to evaporation, so keep an eye on the grill temperature.

Step 2: Add the Water and Let It Smoke

Fill a grill-safe bowl or pan with as much water as you need to fill your ice cube trays. Leave it on the grill or smoker for about 2 to 3 hours, until you’re happy with the flavor. As an alternative method, for bigger smoke flavor according to Thrillist, add actual ice cubes instead of water and let the ice melt as it smokes.

Note: Smoke the water alone. Do not add any raw meat or other foods to the grill while you’re smoking the water to avoid contamination.

Step 3: Strain the Water

After letting the water cool, and before you add it to the ice trays strain the water with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove any particles that may have gotten in during the smoking process.

Step 4: Fill Ice Trays and Freeze

Distribute the smoked water into whatever ice trays or molds you desire. Perhaps balls for whiskey or old fashioneds, or other shapes for any clever idea that strikes you.

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