The Smith and Kearns cocktail is a simple, but rich and delicious cocktail featuring creme de cacao and coffee liqueur. A little bit of seltzer lightens things up. This drink is so easy to make, plus it's super satisfying and tasty!
The Smith and Kearns cocktail recipe tastes a lot like a boozy milkshake. If you're a fan of creamy drinks, this one is a great pick.
The addition of seltzer seems a little weird at first, but it makes it just a little less thick and heavy. This drink has a lot of similar flavors to the Brown Cow, or the White Russian cocktail, and makes a great after-dinner drink.
History of the cocktail
The Smith and Kearns was created in 1952 in Bismark, North Dakota, USA. Reportedly, two oilmen named Smith and Curran were regulars at the Blue Blazer Lounge, a bar in the Prince Hotel.
One day they asked the bartender, Gebert "Shorty" Doebber (or Gerbert, as the correct spelling is unclear), for a drink that was light on the alcohol and wouldn't make them hung over the next day.
Shorty came up with this drink, originally combining creme de cacao, cream and soda water, and it became a huge hit. (Source article - a biography of Wendell Smith.)
Over time, the name shifted from "Smith and Curran" to "Smith and Kearns" and other various misspellings.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this drink:
- Crème de Cacao - this is a sweet chocolate flavored liqueur. It comes in either a light version or a dark version, and either are ok to use.
- Coffee liqueur - though this wasn't in the original recipe, it's often used in modern versions, and it's a great addition! I used Kahlua coffee liqueur.
- Heavy cream - this gives the drink a lot of body and creaminess. You could also use half and half (or single cream in the UK).
- Club soda - this gives the drink a little bit of bubbliness, but not a ton. It makes it light and easy to drink.
- Chocolate curls - these are an optional garnish. You can make your own, or buy pre-made chocolate curls.
Here are some ways you can substitute the ingredients in this silky cocktail:
- Liqueurs - if you have one of the liqueurs but not the other, just use the one you have but double the amount. If you don't have either one, try using one ounce of chocolate syrup and one ounce of vodka.
- Cream - you can use whole milk instead of cream for a less heavy drink. Or, use coconut milk for a non-dairy option.
Here are some variations on this recipe:
- Smith and Wesson - to make this into a Smith and Wesson cocktail, just add in an ounce of vodka to the cocktail shaker. This will make the drink much stronger (and the name is a nod to the famous gunmakers).
- Non-alcoholic version - a version of this drink without alcohol is pretty much the same thing as a chocolate egg cream. Just mix milk or cream with chocolate syrup, pour it over ice and top it with seltzer. So good!
- Bailey's - instead of the Kahlua, try using Bailey's Irish Cream instead. This will make the final drink even more creamy.
You'll need a few standard bar tools to make this drink. A jigger, a cocktail shaker and strainer, and a serving glass are pretty much all you'll need! You might want to have a bar spoon handy to mix after the seltzer is poured in.
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Start out making the drink by adding the creme de cacao and the Kahlua to a cocktail shaker.
Add in the cream, and then fill the shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously, and then add fresh ice to your serving glass. Strain the drink into the glass.
Top the drink off with seltzer. Add chocolate curls to the top if you're using them, and serve.
Hint: if you can, chill all of your ingredients for at least 30 minutes before you make the cocktail. This will help keep the drink cold, and make the ice melt more slowly.
Frequently Asked Questions
These two cocktails are really similar, but the Smith and Wesson has vodka added to it to make it a stronger drink.
The Brown Cow is a simpler drink -- just a combination of Kahlua and cream or milk over ice. The Smith and Kearns has the addition of creme de cacao and club soda.
This drink is best served fresh, but you can pre-mix the cream with the liqueurs if you want to make a bunch of these drinks.
Just mix 1 part Kahlua, 1 part creme de cacao and 1½ parts of the cream. Add ½ ounce of water per cocktail to the mix (instead of shaking with ice) and mix well.
When you're serving, just pour the mixed ingredients over ice and then top with fresh seltzer.
Smith and Kearns Cocktail
- Bar spoon (optional)
- Add the creme de cacao, Kahlua and cream to the cocktail shaker.
- Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
- Add ice to your serving glass.
- Strain the drink into the glass.
- Add the seltzer to the top of the glass. Optionally, give it a gentle stir with a bar spoon.
- If you are using the chocolate curls, add them to the top, and serve.