Cocktail Challenge: Smoke | Cocktail Challenge | Chicago Reader

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Cocktail Challenge: Smoke

Cayce Key of Big Star eschews the traditional smoky spirits.



Challenged by Sean Patrick Riley of the Burlington to make a drink with smoke, Big Star bartender Cayce Key decided to steer clear of smoky liquors like scotch and mezcal—which he says people lean towards when they think of smoke in cocktails. "I decided I'd side-step that and do smoke three ways," he said.

That trio included a glass smoked with chocolate malt, a smoked German doppelbock, and a little smoked paprika. "Typically you see smoke in old-fashioneds, margaritas," Key said. "I wanted to get away from that." He settled instead on a flip, which uses a whole egg to make a rich, "almost viscous" drink.

After shaking the egg without ice (a "mime shake"), Key added demerara sugar syrup, Angostura bitters, Flor de Caña rum, and ice, and shook the whole thing. At the end he lit the chocolate malt to create smoke, with which he filled a glass before pouring in the cocktail and topping it with Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche Doppelbock. To finish the drink, he sprinkled on Hungarian smoked paprika.

Lipstick Lace on a Lucy - PETER HOLDERNESS
  • Peter Holderness
  • Lipstick Lace on a Lucy

Lipstick Lace on a Lucy

One egg
1/2 oz demerara sugar syrup
2 oz Flor de Cañna 7-year rum
Angostura bitters
Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche
Chocolate malt
Smoked paprika

Crack the egg into a shaker; shake without ice. Add sugar syrup, rum, bitters, and ice and shake. Put the chocolate malt in a small bowl and light; invert a glass above the smoke and let it fill the glass. RightFlip the glass back over, pour in the cocktail, and top it with the doppelbock. Sprinkle with paprika on top and serve.

Who's Next:

Key has challenged Charlie Schott of Parson's Chicken & Fish with tahini. "I'm actually a really big fan of the sesame flavor, but I didn't want to make it too easy for him," Key wrote in an e-mail, "so I gave him something gloppy to work with."

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