There are several ways to make a Smoky Negroni including using a smoked gin, smoked ice cubes, or smoking the Negroni with a dedicated cocktail smoking kit.
The Negroni is one of the best smoked cocktails, and it's good to know how to make a Smoky Negroni. It's easy to do, and producing a smoky take on one of the world's most popular cocktails will surprise your guests. You'd better be prepared to make seconds, though.
What Is a Negroni?
A Negroni is an Italian cocktail that was probably first made in Florence in 1919 at the request of the grandly-named French General Pascal Olivier Count de Negroni. It's a simple cocktail recipe to remember: one part gin, one part sweet red vermouth, and one part Campari. Garnish it with a slice of orange peel and you're done. It's one of those cocktails that, if a guest asks you for one, you don't need to go to the bookshelves or the internet to look up the recipe. You just need to be sure to have the ingredients on hand. But how do you make a Smoky Negroni?
Buying Smoked Gin
One way to make a Smoky Negroni is to use a smoked gin instead of your regular gin. Normally a London Dry Gin with its strong juniper flavors works best in a Negroni. Because a Negroni does only have three ingredients, changing any one of them can make a big difference to the overall result. It may take a few experiments till you perfect making your Smoky Negroni.
In the USA, The New York Craft Spirits Distillery makes ESP Smoked Gin using Applewood- smoked juniper berries, which should add several layers of flavor to your standard Negroni. In the UK you can find a Smoked Rosemary Gin made by That Boutique-y Gin Company, which should also work well.
Smoke Your Own Gin
As there aren't too many smoked gins on the market, it will be easier and cheaper to try smoking your own gin. One advantage here is that you can use the same recipe and gin as you do for a standard Negroni, but you're simply adding smoke to the gin rather than altering the recipe by using a different gin with a different flavor profile.
You can smoke your own gin by using a dedicated cocktail smoking kit. Although these are intended for smoking the finished cocktail, they can also be used for smoking pure spirits. Put several measures of your regular London Dry Gin in a glass and smoke the gin before making the Negroni. Try using the Whiskey Barrel Oak Smoking Fuel. A Negroni already has a lot of flavors swirling around in there, so a simpler smoking fuel will be better.
If you're the kind of person who's a bit of a control freak then you might even want to go the whole hog and make your own gin from scratch. After all, gin is simply flavored vodka, which is the kind of remark you make if you want to annoy a gin distiller. It's true, though. Gin starts off as a neutral spirit, i.e. vodka, and the botanicals including juniper are then infused into it. You can achieve the same results by using an inexpensive Gin Essence which, for a few dollars, allows you to turn vodka into gin. It isn't cheating as many gin distillers simply buy in their cheap neutral spirit (they don't like to call it vodka, but it is) and add their botanicals. You can then smoke the gin, as above.
Use a Cocktail Smoking Kit
Alternatively you can make your Negroni absolutely as normal, and simply smoke the end result with the smoking kit. Again, try starting with a lighter smoking fuel like the Whiskey Barrel Oak Smoking Fuel, before experimenting with anything stronger.
Use Smoked Ice Cubes
Another way to turn a Negroni into a Smoky Negroni is to use smoked ice cubes. This way the smoky flavor slowly builds up as the ice cubes melt, and when it gets to the level you think is perfect you can take the smoky ice cubes out and replace them with regular ones.
How do you smoke ice cubes? For this you'll need the Foghat Smoking Cloche Set, which gives you a bigger surface area to smoke than the cocktail smoker does. Place a tray of ice cubes on the cutting board, and use the smallest ice cubes that you have. Smoke the ice cubes until they melt, and then refreeze them. You'll get better results if you smoke ice cubes rather than smoke an ice cube tray filled with water, as the smoke molecules stick to the ice more easily than they would penetrate the water.
You needn't limit this to Negronis, of course. If you keep a tray of smoked ice cubes in the freezer, you can use them with any whiskey cocktail, or a Margarita, to gradually create a smoky version of the cocktail as you drink it.
Use Smoked Cocktail Glasses
If you want to go for broke with the smoking, you can also use the Foghat Smoking Cloche Set to smoke your cocktail glasses just before you make your Negronis. Combine this with smoked ice cubes and a regular Negroni cocktail, and you also have a Smoky Negroni. Use a smoked gin as well and you'll have an Ultra Smoky Negroni. That may be going a little too far, but at least you now know how to make a Smoky Negroni several different ways.
by Mike Gerrard