This tasty cocktail trend is way beyond a gimmick

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Sailing aboard the inaugural voyage of the new Disney Wish this summer, one of the cocktails that caught my eye in Nightingale’s, the intimate onboard piano bar, featured a smoke bubble sitting atop a purple drink served in an elegant coupe. Looking at the cocktail menu, I spotted the Butterfly Smoke Bubble and placed my order. The blend of Bombay Sapphire, butterfly pea tea and citrus was delightful, as was the scent-infused smoke bubble when it burst at first sip.

Smoke On The Water

A few months later, I sailed aboard Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess and was delighted once again to see a smoke bubble cocktail on the menu at Crooners. Delnah, a mixologist and server in Crooners, perfected her bubble making skills to the delight of our group and the other guests who watched her put the finishing touch on the Violet Cloud, a light cocktail with a rosemary-scented smoke bubble floating on top.

“Being part of the Princess family as a mixologist, I want to smash your concept of what a cocktail can be — to make beverages such an experience you can’t wait to try it again and tell all your friends,” says Rob Floyd, Princess Cruises’ master mixology partner. “The Violet Cloud is just like that,” he continues. “A beautiful base of a cocktail that is delicious and easy to execute. Then putting a large scented bubble over top of the cocktail that you pop with your nose really puts a smile on my face.”

Smoke Bubbles Are Bubbling Up

Curious about smoke bubble cocktails, I reached out to Debbi Peek, a Tampa-based independent spirts and beverage consultant who works with brands to develop cocktails for national restaurant groups. Peek recalls first seeing smoke bubble cocktails at mixology competitions in Europe about two years ago, noting that her European colleagues were creating extravagant garnishes well before her U.S. counterparts. “When you see a trend, it happens in Europe first, then arrives in the U.S. about two years later,” says Peek. “Even the tiki trend didn’t happen here [in the U.S.] until it was already finished in Europe.”

She says that the trend of smoke bubble cocktails likely evolved from a wide variety of smoked cocktails created with wood and real smoke, and restaurants were shying away from fire. “This [the smoke bubble] is a way to do the smoke without fire, but in a cool way — you have the idea of the smoke experience, and it’s theatrical,” Peek says, adding that guests will see “…a bubble walking by” and be intrigued enough to order.

The Flavour Blaster

Asked about the smoke bubbles themselves and how they’re made, Peek points to the Flavour Blaster, the “gun” that’s used to make the bubbles. The blaster costs about $400, and there are 15 different scents of essential oils from which to choose. Through its technology, the blaster creates smoke bubbles out of the oil. “It’s an expensive tool, but if you think about how many cocktails you’re going to sell from just the show of it, even if it doesn’t taste good, it’ll pay off,” Peek says with a chuckle.

Benefits Of Smoke Bubbles

Not only is the smoke bubble fun, but it enhances the drink experience, too. “Seventy-five percent of taste comes from smell,” says Peek. “We think we’re tasting whatever the scent is inside the bubble, but that ingredient isn’t necessarily in the cocktail.” Take the rosemary-scented essential oil smoke bubble like that served atop Princess Cruises’ Violet Cloud.

“We think we’re tasting rosemary [from the smoke bubble burst], but it’s not actually an ingredient in the cocktail itself,” says Peek. “Your mind thinks you’re really tasting rosemary, when in actuality you’re smelling it.”

Another attraction of a smoke bubble instead of traditional smoked cocktails is that the smoke from traditionally smoked cocktails tends to linger in the air, and “makes everything taste like smoke,” says Peek. “I don’t actually want to taste smoke throughout my drink, and it’s going to make my food taste different.”

She adds that the idea behind the Flavour Blaster and smoke bubble cocktails is that there is still a theatrical, mystical smoke, but it’s more palatable for people. “Not many people like the taste of smoke,” Peek adds.

Smoke Bubble Cocktails

Smoke bubble cocktails are still a bit of a novelty, but one spot on solid ground that’s serving is Four Flamingos, Chef Richard Blais’ restaurant inside the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando. Four Flamingos’ Roseberry Bomb is made with fresh strawberry-infused-in-house Ketel One Vodka, Crème de Peche and citrus, topped with a rosemary-infused smoke bubble and served with a fresh rosemary sprig. To find smoke bubble cocktails, look online to locate the mostly independent bars using the Flavour Blaster.

For the time being, Peek thinks that smoke bubble cocktails are more likely to pop up in modern mixology bars and contained settings like cruise ships before making it into the mainstream. “When I present it [smoke bubble cocktails] to national restaurant group clients, they say that they don’t know if they’re ready because they have to test it in all of their locations,” she explains, adding that each location needs its own Flavour Blasters and bar staffs will need training. Other options for making smoky bubbles do exist, but the Flavour Blaster is the easiest and most efficient. “Bubble cocktails will make mainstream and national accounts in probably two years,” surmises Peek.

We’ll drink to that!

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


The thought of margaritas might bring visions of sunshine and summer weather, but with a few tweaks to the traditional recipe, you can turn the cocktail into a mistletoe margarita instead. This is sure to be a new seasonal favorite.


There are plenty of ways to make a mistletoe margarita. You can vary the type of tequila you use and modify the overall flavor, but you’ll find that many of the recipes call for cranberries or cranberry juice. The seasonal fruit takes center stage in this Mistletoe Margarita recipe from Delish. Along with whole cranberries, you’ll also need cranberry juice, sugar, salt, triple sec and (of course) tequila.


You can choose to keep the recipe pretty basic by just combining the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker or jazz it up a bit by coating some cranberries in sugar and placing them on top of the drink. While the recipe calls for putting the ingredients in a blender and serving it frozen, you can simply serve it over ice if that gives off too many summer vibes for you.


Maksym Belchenko/istockphoto


Just like there are ways to change up that recipe, there are plenty of other Christmas margarita variations you can make this season if you’d rather try something else.

This version of a Mistletoe Margarita from Kayla’s Kitch and Fix

Mistletoe Margarita

 calls for cranberry and lime juice, but also the addition of pomegranate juice, so it will taste different from the previous recipe. In fact, pomegranate juice appears to be the main flavor-enhancing ingredient, so make sure you like that flavor before making the recipe.

The result will be a dark-colored margarita, similar to the color of red wine or sangria. Once all shaken up and poured in your glass, you can top it with fresh cranberries and perhaps a sprig of mint or rosemary.




If you’re dreaming of snowy weather for the holiday, this White Christmas Cranberry Margarita recipe from 4 Sons ‘R’ Us should get you in the spirit. The winter color of this margarita comes from white cranberry juice, but you’ll add lime juice, triple sec and tequila.


You can garnish the drink with rosemary and fresh cranberries if you wish, or make sugared cranberries and put them on a skewer. Like a traditional margarita, you can also rim your glass with a lime slice and dip it in salt.


Yulka3ice / iStock


If you’ll be serving a crowd, you can even make this White Christmas Margarita Punch from How Sweet Eats, which serves six (or fewer if your guest are serious margarita fans). Along with traditional margarita ingredients like tequila and Grand Marnier, it also calls for coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut water and coconut rum. This makes it white like snow, but with a tropical flair that sounds perfect for daydreaming of the beach on a cold winter day.


You can still include some holiday garnishes, however, like rosemary or fresh cranberries. Or, if you want even more coconut flavoring, you can also add coconut extract. As a side note, since this recipe makes a large batch, it’s best to whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl instead of shaking them in a cocktail shaker.




Of course, if margaritas and tequila are just not for you, you can also make other holiday-themed cocktails instead, including a few inspired by the weather most associated with the season: snow!


This Snowflake Martini from Cooking with Curls is made with vanilla-flavored vodka, peppermint schnapps, white chocolate liqueur and cream. You can even wet the rim of the glass and add sugar crystals or coconut to make it appear icy or snowy so it lives up to its “snowflake” namesake.


bhofack2 / iStock


If you’re not a vodka fan, you could instead go for this classic Snowball cocktail, which originated in the U.K. in the 1940s. It blends sparkling lemonade with avocaat and a splash of lime. It may sound summery at first, but avocaat is actually a liqueur that combines alcohol (usually brandy), eggs, sugar and vanilla. This makes it similar to most eggnogs and therefore perfect for the holidays.




Of course, Christmas isn’t the same unless it’s full of sweet treats, so you could also add this Sugar Cookie Martini from Crazy for Crust to your cocktail list. Made with vanilla vodka, amaretto and sugar cookie or vanilla-flavored coffee creamer, it’s as easy as it is delicious! Simply combine the three ingredients, then dip the rim in sugar or sprinkles for an extra festive touch.



Betty Crocker


You can’t forget about your Christmas morning cocktail either, so while you’re serving up festive pancakes or seasonal cinnamon rolls, you may want to add this White Christmas Mimosa from Freutcake to the menu as well. All you need is some champagne, white Creme de Cocoa and the ultimate holiday treat: candy canes. You can either choose to put the candy cane right in the drink or crush them and use them to adorn the rim of the glass. Or do both!


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This article originally appeared on Simplemost and was syndicated by




Featured Image Credit: Nazarevich / iStock.