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Smoked cocktails are on fire in the Columbus bar scene

Smoked cocktails are on fire in the Columbus bar scene

Aaron Wetli

Cocktail purists beware, this article probably isn’t for you. Keep moving. Same goes for you, “Let the Bordeaux breathe for fifteen minutes before serving” wine drinker. This piece is for the adventurous and fun-loving Central Ohio booze fans who aren’t intimidated by a few pyrotechnics.

If you are a fan of speakeasies, mixologists, and getting out of your comfort zone, you are probably familiar with “smoked” cocktails. If you are not, here is the scoop: smoke is added to drinks through a variety of methods, most noticeably an actual smoking gun. The smoke adds depth to the flavor of your cocktail, which can be a welcome addition to your drink in months when other ingredients are out of season, and it looks pretty cool. Here are some locations where you can get an awesome smoked cocktail and also a couple of places that will light them on fire.

The Kitchen | 231 E Livingston Ave.

The Kitchen is an event space and a learning experience duo. If you are looking for a place to practice your culinary skills, enroll in a participatory dining experience where you can learn how to cook some delicious eats and make an awesome cocktail.  The Kitchen’s Smoked Old Fashioned is made with brown sugar syrup, bitters, and topped off with a smoking cinnamon stick. You can do this at home and capture the smoke in an upside-down rocks glass, but you probably should see the pros do
it first.

Photo by Brian Kaiser

Denmark on High | 463 N High St.

Do you remember what an Erlenmeyer flask is? I didn’t either until I talked to Gary White, owner of Denmark on High. Basically, an Erlenmeyer flask is a beaker that you used in middle school science class for pouring and storing solutions. The difference is that at Denmark, the cocktail is concocted, transferred into the flask, topped off with a shot from the smoking gun and then transferred into the glassware in which it will be served. Demark will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in March and is rolling out a greatest hits menu. The titles of the featured smoked cocktails are: Smoke Dat Tree (bourbon based), Put That In Your Pipe (rum based), and The Danker The Berry (Rye Based). The titles are worth coming for. The cocktails are worth staying for.

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MOUTON | 954 N High St.

One of Columbus’ oldest new wave cocktail bars, Mouton has been operating in the Short North since 2011. The inside is sleek and cozy and the perfect place for a date or an after dinner drink—especially if you want to share a drink with your closest friends and set that drink on fire.

Currently, MOUTON has three Tiki Bowls that are each designed to serve three customers: The Rivah Mumma, Put The Lime In The Coconut (bonus points for the Harry Nilsson reference), and the Fernay-Nay Banay-Nay. If you are looking for something a little more subdued, you need look no further than the Johnny Apple Fashioned. Consisting of Old Forester 100 proof bourbon, gomme syrup, and cherry bitters, this cocktail is a “classic old fashioned that just happens to be served in a dome,” says General Manager Jillian Smith. This interactive experience allows the customer to determine the desired amount of smoke by choosing when to lift the glass dome away from the drink. 

Photo by Brian Kaiser

Grass Skirt Tiki Room | 105 N Grant Ave.

Classic and timeless, Grass Skirt Tiki Room has been Central Ohio’s premiere Tiki Bar experience for the better part of a decade. (When I visit, the ambiance always reminds me of the “I’m funny how?” scene from the Tiki Bar in Goodfellas.) Starting with the Toasted Coconut Hot Buttered Rum, this classic Columbus cocktail is a coconut rum-based drink for one  and contains Cruzan 151, allspice, butter and cinnamon. If you want to share a drink with a group of between two and four patrons and would like your drink either set on fire (cinnamon stick) OR smoked (dry ice and hot water), you can choose from three rum based drinks (Rum and Happiness, Bali Hai, Sneaky Tiki) or the red wine sangria-based Headhunters Sangria. If you can’t find something to get excited about at Grass Skirt, stop going so there is more room for the rest of us. 

So, there you have it: a list of some fun, funky, and delicious cocktails to bring some light into your life. Get out there and set Columbus on fire!

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