Smoky Cocktail Better Than A Beer And Chips?

Bar Supervisor Tom Falland creating his signature Smoked Old Fashioned drink at the Den Bar and Bistro in Silver Star Mountain, BC. Credit: Yvette Cardozo

The food and beverage manager over at the Den calls it classic cocktails “with a twist.”

And, indeed, these are not your usual Old Fashioneds or mojitos in the Den & Bar Bistro at Silver Star Mountain in British Columbia, Canada.

Downstairs in the basement, below Coffee+ cafe, along Silver Star’s main street, the Den is doing its own thing with alcohol.

Manager Mark Lehmann has turned his bar supervisor, Tom Falland, loose.

What resulted, among others, was the Smoked Old Fashioned. Yes, it’s a show. Yes, it’s delish. 

“Sometimes less is more,” Lehmann said. “I think gone are the days of sweet hyper-colored drinks, saturated with artificial flavors and so much sugar. In the Den, we have taken to infusing our own tinctures and flavorings using all natural ingredients to develop a unique taste and profile. We have also found in doing so we are using some older style spirits that have been collecting dust for an age. Aperitifs are heavily used in our lineup, as are spirits like Campari, Aperol and gin.”

So, of course, I wanted to watch Tom make his Smoked Old Fashioned.

Infusing the glass with wood chip smoke while making the Smoked Old Fashioned. Credit: Yvette Cardozo

Originally, they used a smoker, trapping smoke in a huge beaker, then pouring it into the drink. But the smoker is now broken, so Tom torches wood chips.  Honestly, a better show.

First, he lined up his ingredients along the bar: a couple of bourbons, vermouth, bitters, a ball of ice in a glass, orange rind, cherry wood chips, and a beaker with a strainer.

Then, he torched the wood chips on a cutting board, and, when the smoke got going, set an upside down glass over the smoke. This lets the smoke flavor adhere to the sides of the glass.

Next he mixed the alcohols, bitters and sugar syrup. All this was shaken with ice cubes. He put the ice ball into the smoke infused glass, then poured the alcohol mix (minus the cubes) over the ice ball in the glass, finally adding a slice of orange rind. The ice ball, rather than cubes, keeps the drink cold without melting and diluting it, he explained.

 The result is a smooth taste that rolls gently around your tongue. There’s a hint of whiskey, a hint of orange, and the barest hint of smoke.

Ok, if this isn’t smoky enough, Tom has his Campfire Sour. It’s made with two bourbons and a single malt Scotch whiskey Laphroaig, then topped with frothed egg whites, a slice of dehydrated lemon and two charred cinnamon sticks. All this is to make it look like a campfire. The cinnamon plays the charred logs.

Be warned, though, Laphroaig is a very special taste. It’s a single malt whisky from Scotland infused with enough peat smoke flavor to bring tears to your eyes. I once hiked a multi-day coastal trail in Canada and after a week, everything I owned including my skin smelled of campfire smoke. This drink is that campfire smoke on steroids.

My favorite drink at the Den, honestly, was Tom’s Chili & Ginger Mojito. This is more than your usual by-the-pool mojito. It has the lime taste, to be sure, but there’s also ginger and, to wake you up, red chillies. A mojito with a kick. Perfect after a day of skiing and before you tuck into the Den’s BBQ ribs. 

Enjoying drinks at Den Bar and Bistro, Silver Star, BC. Credit: Den Bar and Bistro.


One Comment

  1. Esteban E Sarmiento says:

    Does he do a caipirinha, with bona fide cachaca ?

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