Beverage manager Raven Rudolph infuses The Churchill cocktail with its signature cigar smoke

Raven Rudolph loves a bit of theatrics when he’s making a cocktail.

The beverage manager’s signature drink at Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre involves a smoke machine and a playful nod to one of the United Kingdom’s beloved leaders.

Winston Churchill was a connoisseur of whiskey and cigars, so The Churchill combines whiskey, smoked bitters and Lapsang Souchong, a Chinese black tea that has a distinctive smoky pine flavor. (For Rudolph, tea is a go-to secret ingredient in many of his drinks.)

Just before serving The Churchill, Rudolph permeates the glass with cigar cedar smoke. The result is a sultry presentation that provides a thrill to your senses of sight, smell and taste.

It’s an Instagram-friendly drink that turns heads at the bar or when it’s walked through the hotel’s Bull and Bear restaurant.

“A successful cocktail is not just what it tastes like, it’s what it looks like, what it smells like, how it makes you feel,” Rudolph says, but cautions that “after (a drink) looks cool on Instagram, it still has to taste good, and some people make things look so cool, but then they taste horrible.”

As a bartender from Durban, South Africa, Rudolph has a penchant for creating cocktails with personality. He’s got a big one, himself, sporting a twirled mustache as his signature look.

One of his other favorite cocktails, The Hepburn, is named after actress Katherine Hepburn and mixes pineapple juice, Hip Vodka and dried red chili pepper. “It’s easy and sweet at the beginning and gives you a little bit of a kick at the end,” Rudolph says, “because her personality was spicy, but she was easy on the eyes.”

While some bartenders may love to add other ingredients, for Rudolph less is more.

“We always say ‘Keep it simple,’” Rudolph says. “That’s the easier way to do it. And it always makes a difference.”

To sip and savor The Churchill yourself, book your stay at Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre.

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