Cocktail Chemistry: How to Make Dry Ice Drinks
September 08, 2022 by Helena Lombard
Can you drink cocktails with dry ice? Absolutely! If you know what you’re doing. Add some magic to your next cocktail party and discover how to make dry ice drinks. Working with dry ice for cocktails is tricky, and you want to be sure you understand how to use it to make dry ice cocktails for your friends. This article will teach you how to use dry ice for cocktails, where to buy it, and how to safely handle and store it. If this interests you, step into The Mixer’s cocktail chemistry lab.
What is dry ice?
Dry ice is a solid form of CO2 (carbon dioxide). As it melts, it changes into a gas instead of melting and becoming liquid like regular melting ice, and that’s why it’s referred to as ‘dry.’ This process is called sublimation, and that’s what creates a smoking effect.
Putting dry ice in drinks is a popular choice for parties that call for a bit of magic and mystery, like Halloween.
Where to buy dry ice
Most major grocery stores stock dry ice blocks, and you should be able to find them near regular ice freezers but stored separately in special coolers. A general merchandise store will be your next best bet if you can’t find it at your regular supermarket. And then, if all else fails, Google it! There are loads of options online, so order it and get it delivered. Just one warning: Dry ice won’t last in the fridge or freezer, and you’ve got to use it within 18- 24 hours of buying it, so make sure you have a plan of action in place!
How to properly handle and store dry ice
Ok, you’ve managed to find some edible dry ice for drinks. Look at you being super resourceful! So go ahead and take it off your to-do list.
Now that you have the dry ice, what’s next?
First, you need to know that dry ice can cause burns and even frostbite. So be careful when handling it, and make sure it’s out of reach from others—especially if you have curious kiddos and pets lurking around. You want to store the dry ice (in its plastic bag) in an open cooler. Dry ice releases CO2 gas and should never be stored in an airtight container as it might explode, so ventilation is super important!
How to safely use dry ice in cocktails
To prevent burns and frostbite, follow these safety guidelines when putting dry ice in drinks:
- Put on safety gloves and goggles.
- Keep the dry ice in its plastic bag.
- Take a rolling pin (the kind you use for pastry) and bang the bag a few times until the dry ice breaks into big chunks.
- Carefully remove one chunk and place it on a working surface.
- Using a small ice pick, break the dry ice into smaller chunks. The ideal size you’re looking for is around ½-inch to 1-inch. If you’re making dry ice for a punch, you’ll want two pieces around 4 inches in size.
- Drop the dry ice into the cocktail using a pair of tongs and watch the magic happen.
But wait! Is dry ice in drinks safe? You’ll be happy to know that it is…but there are a few safety rules:
- Never ever swallow dry ice.
- Never touch dry ice with your bare skin (or tongue!)
- A 1-inch dry ice chunk will sink to the bottom of the glass and should create ‘smoke’ and entertainment for around 5 minutes.
- Be sure to warn your guests not to swallow the dry ice and, if they can, to wait for the dry ice to dissolve entirely before sipping on their drinks.
- If they can’t wait, then they can sip the top of the drink.
Cocktails with dry ice inspiration
Now that you know how to handle dry ice without injuring yourself, you’re ready to learn how to make a few dry ice cocktails. Here are a few of our favorites for Halloween:
- Witches Brew: While the name might sound like more than you can swallow, a Witches Brew is surprisingly delicious. Packed with melon flavors, this green monstrosity is a drink filled with enchantment (or dry ice). Your friends will think it’s the cat’s whiskers. There’s a little witch in all of us, so if the broom fits, jump on and make this cocktail!
- Vampire’s Kiss: Make a Vampire’s Kiss for a more elegant Halloween cocktail. This berry-flavored Martini is blood red in color and made with vodka, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice, lemon juice, and grenadine. The dry ice is added after the cocktail has been shaken and strained in a glass. Pretty spooky and quite tasty; it will be a real crowd pleaser.
- Halloween Mezcal Cocktail: If you love fresh blackberries and mezcal, this one’s for you. To make one, you’ll muddle rosemary, lemon, orange bitters, and mezcal in a glass. Top with ice and then soda water for a bit of fizz, then carefully add a chunk of dry ice and serve.
- Green Monster: Make this scrumptiously sweet cocktail to creep out your guests. It’s a short drink with just three ingredients: tequila, banana liqueur, and melon liqueur are poured over ice in a lowball glass and stirred. Add a small 1-inch chunk of dry ice just before serving. Simple and impressive.
- Spooky Old Fashioned: Give the classic Old Fashioned a creepy twist by replacing the cherries with blood orange slices and adding a chunk of dry ice to the cocktail before serving.