Treating ourselves to brunch at Applewood in Park Slope, Brooklyn after some grueling holiday travel, my girlfriend and I were excited to see that there was a totally different cocktail menu for the morning meal. Sure, there was the usual bloody mary (and it is superb), but there were also some surprises. Like the smoked maple collins, a mix of whiskey, lemon juice, soda, and some maple syrup that the bartender smokes himself.
It’s shockingly good. The earthy smoke flavor, mixed with he sweetness of the syrup, is incredible. There’s a hint of sour lemon and a little bit of fizz. It’s a great drink.
I asked the bartender, Justin Briggs, how they did it. He told me that he was inspired in part by a Manhattan bar that once served a drink with smoked Coca-Cola. The kitchen at Applewood had a smoker, and they had suggested trying to smoke maple syrup in it. It worked quite well, and Briggs said it wouldn’t be impossible to duplicate at home–as long as you’ve got a smoker. (Looking online, I see that simple stove-top smokers can be had for around $30; they consist of a steel tray with wood chips and a lid.)
At home, I did the only thing I could think of to get a strong smoke flavor without using scotch or mezcal: I added a few dashes of liquid hickory smoke to an applejack, maple syrup and lemon juice experiment. The results were mixed. It may be time to try one of those stovetop smokers.