Smoky Whisky Cocktails

For those long dark winter nights
By Charles Montanaro
As dusk settles in earlier and the days become a grey glimpse of light for a mere few hours, our thirst for a cocktail to warm our bones becomes more prominent. The long lazy days spent outside enjoying cool glasses of wine, watching the sun set well into the evening are now figments of our imagination. As we dip down into cozy, dark bars lit by flickering candle light, we find our palate leans towards stronger, more spirit-forward cocktails. Whilst whisky is versatile and we enjoy it no matter the season, something smoky is the perfect pairing for those long winter nights.

Three cocktails from our first cocktail book, Experimental Cocktail Club bring forward that smokiness that goes so well with winter time drinking. Chet Bacon, originally from the menu at Prescription Cocktail Club in Paris, combines bacon infused Buffalo Trace with mezcal and barbecue bitters. This is the cocktail for those who are still in the grasp of summer nights, slowly easing into the cooler Autumn evenings. It's a proper southern barbecue in a glass with a big chunk of ice, reminiscent of a summer night in Memphis. The smokiness here comes through the bacon infusion alongside the mezcal and barbecue bitters.

The second cocktail, Salt Fashioned, was created by barman Damien Aries for Experimental Cocktail Club in New York. His love for peaty Islay whiskies shines through in this quick three-ingredient recipe combining Laphroaig, salted maple syrup and apple bitters. The smokiness here clearly comes from the Laphroaig, one of Arie's favourite Islay whiskies, and is rounded out with salted maple syrup. In a glass, these three ingredients are reminiscent of a brisk walk through an orchard, collecting apples for the evening's pudding, enjoyed fireside of course.

Smoke That Rhino, created by barman Florian Dubois for Experimental Cocktail Club in London, is definitively a winter tipple best enjoyed on the coldest nights. Here, Vulson White Rhino Rye and Rittenhouse Rye are mixed with ginger, honey, lapsang souchong, lemon and peach bitters, finished off with a spray of Laphroaig. The smokiness has an immediate affect on the nose, courtesy of the spray and the signature aroma of lapsang souchong. Both stand up to the spiciness of the ginger alongside both ryes, with the honey and peach adding depth.

As we spent autumn and winter sipping away on these smoky cocktails, it's a bit easier to love the long cold nights that will seemingly never end. As always, we would recommend enjoying any of these sat beside a crackling fire well into the evening, allowing both the cocktail and the flickering flames to keep you warm.

Experimental Cocktail Club by Romée de Goriainoff, Olivier Bon, Pierre-Charles Cros & Xavier Padovani (Mitchell Beazley,£20) is available to Whisky Magazine readers at £13.00, plus free UK p&p. To order, please call +44 (0) 1903 828 503 quoting, Experimental/MB634. Offer subject to availability, please allow seven days for delivery.

The cocktails

Chet Bacon


  • 5ml (1 tsp) maple syrup

  • 5ml (1 tsp) Ilegal Mezcal Reposado

  • 50ml (2fl oz) bacon-infused Buffalo Trace Bourbon (see below)

  • pinch of salt

  • 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

  • 5 dashes of Memphis Barbecue Bitters

  • ice

Place all the ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with large cubes of ice. Stir well until a little diluted. Strain into a rocks glass over a single large cube or ball of ice.

A piece of pared orange rind.

Bacon-infused Bourbon

  • 10 rashers of smoked bacon

  • 1 bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Grill the bacon until crisp, then add the bacon and the fat from the pan to the bottle of Bourbon. Allow to infuse for five hours, then place in the freezer until the fat is hard. Pour into a large sieve lined with three layers of filter paper or kitchen paper and allow to drip through slowly. This may take up to 48 hours.

Smoke That Rhino


  • 40ml (1½ fl oz) Vulson White Rhino Rye

  • 10ml (2 tsp) Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof whiskey

  • 10ml (2 tsp) ginger syrup (see below )

  • 10ml (2 tsp) honey-infused lapsang souchong tea (see below)

  • 20ml (¾ fl oz) fresh lemon juice

  • 6 dashes of peach bitters

  • ice

Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice cubes and shake well. Double strain into a double old fashioned glass and add one large cube of ice.

Use a piece of pared lemon rind, then spray the top with Laphroaig.

Ginger syrup

  • 75g (3oz) demerara sugar

  • 50ml (2fl oz) water

  • 150ml (6fl oz) fresh root ginger juice

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture has boiled, remove from the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Meanwhile, wash and juice the ginger root, leaving the skin on. Mix the juice with the cooled syrup.

Lapsang souchong tea

Place 500ml (17fl oz) honey and 500ml
(17fl oz) water in a saucepan and heat to melt the honey. Once combined, add 30g
(1¼ oz) lapsang souchong tea and leave for 5–6 minutes. Strain and allow to cool.

Salt Fashioned


  • 60ml (2¼ fl oz) Laphroaig whisky

  • 5ml (1 tsp) salted maple syrup (see below )

  • 3 dashes of apple bitters

  • ice

Place all the ingredients in a mixing glass, fill with ice cubes and stir with a bar spoon. Strain into a rocks glass with one large cube of ice.

A twist of pared lemon rind.

Salted maple syrup

Stir 1 tsp sea salt into 120ml (4fl oz) maple syrup.