How to Make Smoked Ice

Smoking water for savory cocktail ice is easier than you’d think.

Sung Han

After a long day of salmon fishing off Alaska’s southern coast, a strong drink at Steamboat Bay Fishing Club was a warm welcome. When my Lagavulin neat order showed up with a cube of ice, I thought little of it. But then as I sipped the Scotch, its smokiness became more smoky. It was delicious. The ice didn’t just dilute my drink; it added another layer of smoke and spice, and without overwhelming the already great flavors of the whisky.

What I was actually drinking was Chef de Cuisine Katherine Cook’s recipe for smoked ice, which she uses regularly to spice up the lodge’s cocktails and whiskeys. Cook’s recipe is simple enough to make at home, and a nice touch for both cocktails and your favorite whiskey — whether you’re returning from a long day baiting hooks on the water or just a long day in the office.

What You’ll Need
Egg smoker or similar grill
13 x 9-inch baking pan
Lumpwood charcoal
Coffee filter
Large pot

1Soak wood chips in water. Fill a 13 x 9-inch baking pan (one you don’t mind being burned) halfway with wood chips — preferably applewood. Fill halfway with water. Soak the wood chips in water 1-2 hours minimum, or overnight.

2Fire up the grill. Cook used lumpwood charcoal in an egg smoker, but most any charcoal grill will work. Drain the water from the wood chip pan, then cover the pan with foil and poke holes on top. (The foil is to release the smoke more slowly and evenly for a better flavor.) Place the pan of wood chips directly onto the bed of coals.

3Fill another 13 x 9-inch pan with fresh water. Replace the grill’s grating, then put the new pan of water atop it. Cover the grill and allow the water to smoke for one hour.

4Once the water is smoked, filter, boil, then freeze. Remove the pan of water from the grill and pour it through a coffee filter to remove ash and debris. Boiling condenses the water and makes it freeze clearly, making it better for fancy cocktails.

5Serve with your favorite spirit. At Steamboat Bay, Cook used the cubes to add extra smokiness to Manhattans and Old Fashioneds, but Cook recommends it with any bourbon or whiskey. Our favorite is Lagavulin 16.


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