This Is Why You Should Put Activated Charcoal in Your Cocktail


Though many drinks are timeless classics, others owe their existence to classic timing. Such is the case of Beauty & Essex‘s (146 Essex Street; 212-614-0146) Black Tie White Noise cocktail, which features an ingredient that’s growing in popularity right now: activated charcoal.

“The best thing the charcoal does is it gives [the drink] a chalky texture,” explains bartender Carlos Abeyta, who adds that the ingredient doesn’t necessarily have an overpowering flavor. However, you will need to look at charcoal as more than just a necessity for summer barbecues.

“We always want to try things that are a little different,” says Abeyta. Given the establishment’s beauty-related name, as well as activated charcoal’s recent fame as a beneficial skin product, the idea of using the nontraditional ingredient was easy to support.

The activated charcoal gives the drink a memorable texture that makes it fun to sip, and it’s also catching on with bartenders thanks to the color it creates. Abeyta explains that the ingredient can dye a drink black without it being too thick and sticky. “Darker ingredients are going to be a little more viscous,” says Abeyta. After testing the charcoal with water and several spirits, Abeyta and general manager Vincent DeGrezia crafted a cocktail that was ready to be put on the menu.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte, a heavily peated scotch, was included in the drink because of its rich smokiness and similarities to charcoal’s odor, while Gentleman Jack Tennessee Whiskey (which is filtered twice through — you guessed it — charcoal) was used to bring a smooth, stable heat. To balance out the cocktail, simple syrup, lemon juice, yellow chartreuse, and Angostura bitters break through the charcoal’s chalky texture and lead to equally enticing flavors.

“If you want to step outside your boundaries, it’s definitely the right move to do,” says Abeyta, which may be why naming the drink after a David Bowie album — recorded by an artist who defied boundaries — was most appropriate.

Below, find the recipe for Black Tie White Noise, so you can give activated charcoal a try at home.

Black Tie White Noise at Beauty & Essex

.5 oz simple syrup
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1.5 oz Gentlemen Jack
.25 oz Bruichladdich Port Charlotte scotch
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 capsule activated charcoal

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake. Pour into a coupe cocktail glass.