Charcoal Cocktails Light Up the Drink Scene

Charcoal — black, bitter and smoky — is the new “it” cocktail ingredient.

It’s just about outdoor-barbecue season. Time to stock up on charcoal for your grill. And while you’re at it, you may want to get some extra briquettes for cocktail hour. Wait, what?

Yes, friends. Charcoal — black, bitter and smoky — is apparently the new “it” cocktail ingredient. And it’s not just a matter of look and taste.

“Bartenders are latching on to the supposed health benefits of bamboo charcoal, which was used as a healing aid for stomach pain in ancient Chinese medicine,” the U.K.-based publication The Drinks Business reports in an online article cleverly titled Charcoal cocktails are the new black. The article also notes that “charcoal adds dramatic colour, bitter, smoky flavour and granular texture to food and drinks.”

London bar managers and mixologists have devised charcoal-inflected drinks like Black Dice’s Inked Daiquiri (Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, lime, noisette, demerara charcoal) and Bull in a China Shop’s Charcoal Old Fashioned (Hakashu single-malt distillers reserve, chamomile syrup, coconut charcoal powder, bitters), db reports. And the Artesian at The Langham, db says, offers a drink called the Dream Within A Dream, which features “Pisco, Suze, guava juice, citrus and vegetable ash seasoned with salt and sugar, which is sprinkled around the rim of a Champagne flute and mixed with edible glitter to make the glass sparkle in the light.” (Now if that description doesn’t get you fired up ... )

The trend has apparently sparked here in the U.S. as well. Last summer the Washington, D.C., Japanese restaurant Zentan got ink in The Washington Post for featuring two black cocktails that contained activated charcoal: a Back Alley and a Black Eye. Pow!

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