Bark and Barware: an easy way to add smoke to your cocktails

Bark and Barware

It’s Friday afternoon, so perhaps your mind is going over what sort of special beverage to pour up to mark the end of the work week. We’ve talked about a number of options (you can see those here), but today we’ve got a new twist. Sure, you can mix in a number of different things to get just what you want. But adding smoke? That was a new one for us, and we were quite interested to test out the Bark and Barware kit.

  • Bark and Barware

What is it?

When we talk about smoke in drinks, we tend to think in terms of a smoky scotch or mezcal, or perhaps a beer that’s got a roasty element to it. If you’ve been in an establishment going for some modern innovations, you’ve undoubtedly run across smoked versions of your favorite beverage. For myself, I’ve come across some particularly tasty smoked Old Fashioneds.

With the Bark and Barware kit, you’ve got everything you need to smoke your own drink. You’ve got a butane lighter, a reservoir to put on top of your glass that holds the chips, and six flavors of wood chips. You also have a spherical ice mold, which is great for chilling a drink without watering it down. Or, if you prefer, you’ve got six whisky stones that can cool a drink with no water in the mix.

  • Bark and Barware

How does the Bark and Barware kit work?

First and foremost, if you want the large ice ball, get that going in the freezer. Next up, you’ll need to fill the lighter. To keep things safe for shipping, it comes unfilled. Head to your local shop (I got mine at a Walgreens) and you can easily get a butane refill canister. Once that’s good to go, then it’s time to smoke your drink.

Next, you’ll want to decide what to put the smoke on. For our tests, we kept it simple with a nice bourbon. Whisky and bourbon are going to lend themselves quite nicely to this flavor addition, but there are undoubtedly other combinations you can try. Pour it into your glass, and then you’ll put the disc on top. It’s wooden, but there’s a metal plate, and then a mesh metal cup, so you’re not lighting fire to the cover. You put some wood chips in, hit it with the lighter, and then put the top cover on to let the smoke flow down and infuse your drink.

  • Bark and Barware

How does it taste?

That, my friend, is a matter of personal preference. As a fan of smoky scotches and mezcals, as well as slow cooked meats off of my pellet grill, I like the smoky flavor. In testing the Bark and Barware, I quickly came to the realization that there is a bit of an art to using the kit properly.

Yes, the main flavor components come from what you’ve poured into the glass, and then which of the wood flavors you use. But as for how much smoke gets infused into the drink, that’s the art. You can vary this with how much wood you put in the receiver, how long you hit it with the lighter, and then how long the topper sits on the glass. We even found that you can easily hit the wood chips a second time if they’ve not completely burned.

In other words, you’ll need to experiment with the Bark and Barware to see how you want things to taste. Getting to that hint of smoke in the drink, that’s relatively easy to do. However, if you put that big ice sphere in, once the drink cools, you’ll lose that smoke. So you’ll want to smoke it a bit more aggressively, but we found it was easy to put almost too much smoke in. Those first few sips, if they’re too much, just let it air out a bit, and it should mellow some. Or put some ice in.

  • Bark and Barware

Wrapping things up

While the focus is on the smoke infusion, the Bark and Barware is really a great way to sort of play and experiment with your drinks. If you like coming up with new creations in the kitchen, this is a kit that should appeal to you. Thankfully, they include a small cleaner brush so you can clear the residue from the holes in the lower part of the holder. And there’s a second mesh cup, so you can swap things out to clean up. Long and short of it, the $50 kit offers a lot of bang for the buck. We’ll see how long the chips last us in ongoing, ahem, testing. And of course, how we can get the refills. If you want to get yours, it’s available now on Amazon, and looks like there’s currently a coupon that can lower the price a bit as well.

Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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