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Smoky cocktails are taking over bar menus across Austin

Written by
Anastacia Uriegas

’Tis the season for Christmas lights, caroling and spending every day after work at a holiday party drinking festive cocktails. We're not just sipping on boozy eggnog and hot toddies, though—some of the best bars in Austin are serving smoky cocktails this winter, using smoked wood chips and smoke-filled glasses to evoke an earthy flavor profile. Here are five cloudy cocktails we're loving right now:

Cigar Box at the Roosevelt Room

Photograph: Courtesy The Roosevelt Room

The Cigar Box ($14) was created in 2013 by Justin Lavenue at Whisler's then later updated when he opened the Roosevelt Room. Smoky Vida mescal and Lapsang souchong black tea syrup are enhanced with floral lavender bitters and house-made tobacco essence, then presented with a flaming cinnamon stick, resultin gin an ethereal indulgence for imbibers.

The Tejano at El Chipirón 

Photograph: Damon Luu

At Spanish newcomer El Chipirón, the Tejano ($14) uses Dripping Springs gin, rosemary, orange and lime peels, exotic star anise and whole peppercorns, combined and smoked with applewood chips before Mediterranean tonic is added. The result? A drink that morphs from fresh to citrusy to smoky as you sip.

Off-menu cocktail at the Hollow

Photograph: Ricky Cobia

Served in a coupe glass under a bell jar filled with hickory smoke, the off-menu cocktail ($15) is a visual stunner. Creyente 100 percent Espadin mescal, Ancho Reyes and Cynar are infused with roasted coffee beans, while St-Germain, honey and ginger reductions, walnut bitters and house-made mole bitters make for an Oaxaca-inspired experience.

Smoky old-fashioned at Visconti Bar

Photograph: Courtesy Visconti Bar

This take on an old-fashioned ($13) adds woody aroma to the classic version: flame-dried rosemary and hickory chips are torched and covered with a rocks glass while Basil Hayden bourbon, black walnut bitters and orange simple syrup are stirred until chilled, then poured into the glass and garnished with a Luxardo maraschino cherry wrapped in an orange peel. 

Ol’ Schmokey at Freedmen's

Photograph: Courtesy Freedmen's

This BBQ joint takes the same post oak wood used for its ’cue and torches it on a marble slab for the Ol’ Schmokey ($9). A rocks glass is placed over the smoldering wood, then filled with Old Forester 86 bourbon, smoked and muddled oranges and smoked pecan bitters. The drink is garnished with a smoked orange peel, a whiskey cube and a Luxardo maraschino cherry. 

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