“In Islay, it is rainy and windy every day of the year. So the prevailing belief is you should take your fire with you. That was what helped inspire the flavor of Ardbeg” – David Blackmore, Arbeg Brand Ambassador
A desire for bold flavors in drinks has seen a spectacular rise in the last few years. Hoppy beers, Kombucha and smoky spirits have all become commonplace. Bruichladdich released Octomore 06.3, with 258 ppm of peat smoke in each bottle.
This is nothing new. Lapsang, a pine smoked black tea, has been popular in China since the 1640’s. The Scottish have been burning peat for heat since the Neolithic period. From the time they built their first whisky still, smoky flavors have been present. Mexicans have smoked agave in a fire pit to create Mezcal in roughly the same way since the late 1700’s. Other countries produce spirits with burned rosemary, nettle and even sheep dung!
Smoky cocktails got their poster child, in 2007, when New Yorker Eben Freeman created the Waylon – a heady blend of cherry and alderwood smoked cola syrup and bourbon. His drinks received acclaim from the New York Times and Food & Wine as some form of molecular wizardry.
Modern bartenders have honed their skills flaming peels, using smoking guns and incorporating the smoky spirits and teas available to them. Dylan Williams (Bambudda) wanted to go for the gusto. A drink that employs smoke four ways, some bold, some subtle. The Dong Fang Hong (named for a famous Chinese diesel train) was born and has found a steady fan base. Here’s how to make this complex riff on a smoky cocktail.
Dong Fang Hong, by Dylan Williams
1.5 oz Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz Siete Misterios Mezcal
.75 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz Dong’s Mix #1 (recipe and method below)
1 egg white or dash of Ms. Better’s Vegan Botanical Foamer
Combine ingredients in shaker. Dry shake. Hard shake with ice and fine strain into chilled coupé.
Garnish: Stencil is optional, but consider atomizer spraying some lemon oil dyed with turmeric and annatto seeds.
Dong’s Mix #1 Recipe and Method
500 grams Lapsang Kombucha – Bambudda gets their smoky tart batch from “Noodles”, the head of Mycology research for UBC.
500 grams Riesling wine – Chosen for high acidity and petrol notes
2000 grams sugar
2 grams chili flakes
5 grams black cardamom – Has a naturally smoky camphor from drying method.
2 grams Apothecary “Mystic Caravan” Smokey Pear Bitters – Made in Vancouver.
5 grams fresh epazote | “Grow it yourself, good for petrol citrusy flavors and taco nights” – Dylan
Zest and juice of 3 limes
2 tsp Citric acid.
Big pinch of kosher salt
Blanch epazote, and blend the wine with the black cardamom, lime zest & chili flakes.
Strain into pot, add remaining ingredients together and bring to boil to dissolve.
Allow to cool. Bottle batch and keep it in the fridge to store.