Smoke Some Tequila—It’s Easy!

Last summer, I was fortunate to have happened by a mixologist’s house while he was smoking Patrón tequila to use in a cocktail destined for the Vegas Uncork’d grand tasting at Caesars Palace. My clothing and hair would bear the remembrance for days. It’s an easy process, one that can be accomplished with a home barbecue grill and some patience. Tobin Ellis of BarMagic of Las Vegas and Social Mixology was happy to revisit the process with me.

Hogan & Ellis’ Smoked Tequila

What you’ll need:

  • 3-4 liters of your favorite 100 percent de agave tequila (Ellis recommends Patrón Reposado.)
  • A charcoal-fueled barbecue grill 1 bag wood chips (hickory, mesquite or for fun try apple, cherry, pecan, etc.)
  • A 2-to-3-gallon stainless insert pan or pot (be warned—you’ll not be able to reuse it)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Matches or a lighter and lighter fluid


Load up a large sheet of aluminum foil with the wood chips and poke holes throughout. (You should end up with a pouch about the size of 2-3 ears of corn.)

Load the bottom of the grill with charcoal and light with lighter fluid. Place the wood chips on top of the charcoal. (You want the wrapped chips to smoke, not catch fire.)

Pour the tequila into the steel pot or pan. Place the pan on the grill. Cover the grill and smoke for 30-40 minutes.

Let the tequila cool completely.

Ellis adds, “The secret to getting great smoke flavor is getting the most smoke possible at the lowest heat. Don’t use too much charcoal and don’t try to get the coals too hot. (Start smoking right away.) If the fire is too hot, much more of the tequila will evaporate or boil away. No matter what, expect to lose 20 to 30 percent. Another hint is to use the shallowest pan that will fit on your grill—the more surface area that comes in contact with the smoke, the faster and more intensely the tequila and smoke will marry. The pan will smell of smoke forever.”

A few recipes to get you started:

Smoked Margarita

Shake 2 ounces smoked tequila, ½ ounce agave nectar and ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice with ice. Strain over fresh ice into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with Filthy brand pepper or a fresh lime wheel.

Sweet & Smoky Pineapple Chipotle Cooler

Shake 2 ounces smoked tequila, ¾ ounce Monin pineapple-chipotle syrup, 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice and 2 ounces fresh pineapple juice with ice. Strain over fresh ice into a tall Collins glass. Garnish with a dried chipotle pepper or grilled pineapple slice.