The best cocktail smoker we tested was the Breville Smoking Gun Pro (view on Williams-Sonoma), which won top marks for its quality construction and its versatility. If dramatic presentation is what you're looking for, the Crafthouse by Fortessa Cocktail Smoking Box (view on Amazon) can't be beat for visuals.
Adding smoke to cocktails has been a trend in craft bars for more than a minute now, but it’s not just a gimmick—it’s a method that can add some serious flavor to drinks. Although the technique might seem a bit intimidating for novices, it’s actually quite simple if you have the right tools. If you’re going to try it, remember that using cold smoke is key, because hot smoke from a grill or a barbecue smoker can actually cook the drink. Most bartenders use a gun-style infuser and a cloche (a dome-type device, often made of glass) to impart a dose of smoke to mostly-complete drinks before serving. However, there are a few other methods.
According to Sean O’Connell, bartender and brand ambassador for Australian whisky brand Starward, you want to “build the cocktail with dilution first.” The next step, he explains, is to "smoke the cocktail before you add the last bit of ice. The last step should be ice and garnish." Another option, according to O’Connell, is to smoke individual ingredients first, because it increases the surface area for the smoke to penetrate.
As you experiment with the craft of cocktail smoking, you may discover that less is more. Start off using a modest amount of smoke until you sort out the level of smoke you and your guests find pleasing. Most folks don’t want their cocktail to taste like it was served in an ashtray (though lovers of Islay Scotch or Rauchbier may disagree!).
We tested dozens of cocktail smokers to determine our top selections, reviewing such attributes as ease of use, overall performance, cleaning, and value. Here are our winners in the cocktail smokers category:
Breville Smoking Gun Pro
Highly versatile, Breville's Smoking Gun Pro may be designed for those with elevated culinary skill sets, but it’s also great for those who want to embark on some playful experimentation. Powered by four AA batteries, the massive burn chamber makes it easy to load and gives the user enough material to smoke several cocktails in one go. The flexible silicone hose makes it easy to point the smoke where you want it, and variable speeds allow the home bartender to add a gentle whiff up or increase the smoke level to a more intense setting. Both the stainless steel barrel and the burn chamber are dishwasher safe and pop out for easy cleanup.
Our tester was really impressed with the Smoking Gun Pro, stating that the unit is easy to operate, draws smoke quickly, and produces rich, robust smoke that lingers. He also praised its overall value and the fact that it was easy to clean.
Price at time of publish: $150
Materials: Silicone, plastic, aluminum | Dimensions: 5.75"x3.75"x6.75" | Power: Four AA batteries | Fuel Source: Wood chips
If you are making several drinks at once, it is possible to smoke big-batch cocktails. O’Connell recommends pouring all ingredients into a steam pan and covering it with foil. Peel a corner of tin foil back and fill the pan with smoke using the smoking gun. Then, wrap the whole thing tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how much smoke suits your taste. Batches without fresh juice can sit longer.
Crafthouse by Fortessa Cocktail Smoking Box
Here's a showstopper smoker where form takes precedence over function. Sure, the smoker tech is cool, boasting ample power and capacity to impart a ton of smoky flavor. But this collaboration between renowned bartender Charles Joly’s brand Crafthouse Cocktails and tableware maker Fortessa is simply a stellar way to present drinks—either for your enjoyment or to add some serious drama when serving a cocktail to a guest. The glass box is hemmed in with stainless steel, creating a showpiece that will elevate the look of any home bar.
Our tester was very impressed with the appearance of the Crafthouse by Fortessa Cocktail Smoking Box, calling it a "gorgeous statement piece." That said, she did find it a bit challenging to clean—its large size doesn't make it a natural for the dishwasher—and there's no denying that it was one of the pricier units in our testing lineup.
Price at time of publish: $299
Materials: Glass, Stainless steel, Black walnut | Dimensions: 11.5"x12"x12.6" | Power: AA batteries | Fuel Source: Wood chips
"There's no way to adjust the amount of smoke, so you better like your drinks and foods heavily smoked."
Best Starter Kit
MITBAK Portable Handheld Cold Smoking Gun with Dome Lid and Woodchips
This cold-smoking kit from MITBAK is affordable and contains everything you'll need to start smoking cocktails right off the bat. In the box, you’ll find a smoking gun that fires up with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, a domed cloche, wood chips, and a detachable hose... as well as a charging cable and a tweezer to help remove debris from the burn chamber, which is detachable for easier cleanup. The smoke infuser fan conveniently blows at three speeds to control the amount of output.
Our tester appreciated the fact that even this relatively low-frills unit came with three variable settings, and she confirmed that the "high" setting produces quite a lot of smoke indeed. She also appreciated that the cloche was small enough to fit comfortably into the dishwasher. (Note for home bartenders: while the kit does include a cloche, it can’t accommodate tall glasses. So if you're someone who makes a lot of cocktails stemmed glassware, you’ll want to pick up a smoking kit with a bit more height.)
Price at time of publish: $90
Materials: Silicone, plastic, aluminum | Dimensions: 17.5"x12.2"x5.2" | Power: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery | Fuel Source: Wood chips
"This doesn't come with a base, so you need a cutting board or a plate large enough to put under the dome."
Best Smoke Box
Oklahoma Joe’s Cocktail Smoking Box
Constructed from the same American white oak that gets used in the production of bourbon barrels, this handsome little box from grill manufacturer Oklahoma Joe's is the perfect choice for the outdoorsy bartender who wants to smoke cocktails out in the wilderness. Besides the drink itself, you'll also need to provide your own wood chips (as well as your own lighter or torch), but everything else you'll need is included: the sturdy wooden box, plus a tray that slides out of the bottom to hold your chips. While the compact size means that this unit only holds one drink at a time, that just gives you more time to kick back and enjoy the great outdoors.
Our tester appreciated the simple, unpretentious design, as well as the fact that the unit was easy to clean. And despite the fact that this smoker only handles one drink at a time, she found the resulting smokiness level to be perfect: "just enough to feel 'smoked' but without an overpowering ash flavor." We'll raise a glass to that!
Price at time of publish: $59
Materials: White oak, Stainless steel | Dimensions: 5.5"x5.5"x6.5" | Power: Torch (not included) | Fuel Source: Wood chips (not included)
"It's made of white oak, same as the barrels, so it's really cool looking and very well made."
Best for Multiple Cocktails
Homia Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser Extended Kit
The Homia Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser Extended Kit is an "extended kit" in every sense of the phrase—no other smoker on our list comes with as many add-ons or accessories. Besides the smoker itself, this unit comes packaged with two cloches of different sizes, a 15-inch tube attached to the gun, seven different smoking chips (cherry, oak, apple, peach, beech, hickory and pear), a packet of replacement screens, a small screwdriver, a small brush, and some additional screens... not to mention instructions and batteries. The only thing missing is the lighting implement, which needs to be purchased separately.
Our tester noted that the wider of the two cloches would be large enough to smoke multiple cocktails simultaneously, a possibility that some of the smaller smokers on this list don't offer. She also had praise for the ease of use, the straightforward cleanup, the flavor of the included smoking chips, and the reasonable price tag.
Price at time of publish: $84
Materials: Silicone, plastic, stainless steel | Dimensions: 16.1" x 11.5" x 6.2" | Power: Four AA batteries | Fuel Source: Wood chips
"The device felt study—and with the cloches, a variety of chips, replacement screens, and cleaning tools, you're getting a nice product."
Best for Whiskey
Aged and Charred Smoke Top Lid - A Cocktail Smoker Kit
The Aged & Charred Smoke Top Lid is a simple and straightforward smoking device that will take up very little space on your home bar. The design is simple: a wooden disc gets placed onto the glass of your choice, and wood chips are placed into a small chamber on top. Next, a butane torch is used to roast the chips, producing smoke, which is forced into the glass once you put the wooden lid on top of the disc. The kit includes all of the necessary items—even the torch and the butane.
Our tester was impressed by the simplicity of this unit, as well as the fact that it was ready to go straight out of the package—no assembly needed, and nothing extra to provide (besides the glass and the whiskey!). The tapered lid can fit onto any glass you might want to enjoy your whiskey out of, from a tumbler to a coupe to a Glencairn.
Price at time of publish: $90
Materials: Oak | Dimensions: 4.5" x 2.25" | Power: Butane torch | Fuel Source: Wood chips
"The smoke taste doesn't overpower the cocktail at all but it does lend a nice smooth subtle flavor to the drink."
TMKEFFC Portable Smoking Gun
A solid budget option that delivers well-smoked cocktails without breaking the bank, the TMKEFFC Portable Smoking Gun is small but mighty. With its no-frills construction, its short hose, and its minimalist instruction manual, this diminutive smoker doesn't look like a powerhouse—but it's very capable of giving your cocktails a smoky punch. Consider this unit as an entry-level option for someone who's curious about smoked cocktails but not sure if they want to go all-in.
Our tested certainly noticed that there weren't many accessories to speak of—no butane torch, no cloche—but she felt that's to be expected with a unit that has a price tag well under $50. Her one complaint was that the unit was a little tricky to take apart if you want to do a deep clean. But as a starter smoker for someone who only plans to use it occasionally, this is a perfectly serviceable unit at a price it's hard to argue with.
Price at time of publish: $35
Materials: Stainless steel, Plastic | Dimensions: 2.75" x 2.75" x 6.3" | Power: Two AA batteries (not included) | Fuel Source: Wood chips
"Although it doesn't come with a cloche for smoking finished cocktails, other tools like plastic wrap or glass bowls could be used."
Breville's the Smoking Gun Pro (view at Walmart) is a powerful and versatile smoking gun that's perfect for home bartenders looking for high-quality, smoke-infused cocktails, and it works great for home chefs, too. If you're looking for a complete kit that includes everything from the smoking gun to the cloche to the wood chips, we recommend the MITBAK Cocktail Smoker with Dome Lid (view at Amazon).
How We Tested
We tested a total of 25 top-rated cocktail smokers in our dedicated Lab side by side, looking at features like design, size, weight, and value. Likewise, our testers also designed a variety of tests to determine which cocktail smokers performed the best in a range of categories. These included set-up, smoking a cocktail, tasting that cocktail against an un-smoked version and comparing to determine the smoke flavor, going through clean-up procedures, and evaluating overall versatility and ease-of-use.
What to Look for in a Cocktail Smoker
The least expensive smokers tend to be powered by simple AA batteries, but some can connect via USB, and others have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The power source will have likely factor into how long you can work with the smoker before it needs a charge.
If it's important that you can take the smoker on the go with you, whether it's to use at a friend's house or take on vacation, you'll want one that's easy to pack up and carry. Other models are more about presentation, and are probably best left behind the home bar—until it's time to pull them out with a flourish that suits the dramatic process of smoking.
Smokers with variable speeds will enable you to control the amount and intensity of the smoke that comes wafting out over your cocktail. Some smokers come with all the accessories, and some don't. You might also consider how easy it is to take it apart to clean it, as well as whether or not it needs to be washed by hand or it can go in the dishwasher.
Are cocktail smokers worth it?
For the serious home bartender and cocktail enthusiast, a smoker is a nice tool to have. (It also makes a great gift!) You can buy a simple cocktail smoker at a relatively inexpensive price, or you can easily find more sophisticated models if that's your preference.
What do they put in cocktails to make them smoke?
The smoke is typically created by burning wood chips of various types, but other ingredients can play a part in the process: you might choose to use tea, citrus peels, or even cinnamon to add a little complexity to the aroma and flavor of the cocktail by infusing the smoke with these elements. Don't forget ice, of course, which creates a subtle smoky effect once it melts.
What are the best cocktails to smoke?
Cocktails based on whiskey are the most popular cocktails to smoke, but lots of other cocktails with spirit bases other than whiskey also work well, too. Try an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan, or even a Negroni. A smoky Martini is worth a sip, and a Bloody Mary benefits from a little bit of smoke, too.
Testing Cocktail Smoker Features and Portability
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Nicholas McClelland is a spirits writer whose work has appeared in Men’s Journal, Fatherly, and InsideHook. His bar is deep with rare single malts, hard-to-find bourbons, and ryes, but he doesn't believe there's anything too precious to share with friends.