Use Dry Ice to Create Smoky Cocktails

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Diana Yen)

Dry ice may have been created for Halloween — well, not really, but it’s definitely a prime time to use it. How else is the holiday party going to be spooky if there isn’t creepy fog in the air? But perhaps the best way to use dry ice this holiday isn’t in a cauldron or a jack-o’-lantern — it’s in your cocktail glass. Since you already need ice in your drink, it seems more fitting for the season to use dry ice.

While it’s pretty easy to get the effect, there are a few important tricks (and safety tips) to know to create smoky cocktails.

First, Safety

It can’t be mentioned enough that you do need to be careful when working with dry ice.

  • Protect your hands: Since its temperature is below -109.3°F, it can give you frostbite in less than 10 seconds. So use thick gloves or tongs when handling it.
  • Don’t drink it! You also want to make it clear to your guests who will be enjoying these cocktails that they shouldn’t put their mouth on the ice (or worse, swallow it), since its extremely cold temperature can even cause internal frost bite.

Luckily, dry ice is dense, so it will sink to the bottom of the glass, but it’s important that you and your guests are cognizant.

(Image credit: Diana Yen)

On to the Cocktails!

You should be able to find food-grade dry ice sold in one- to two-pound blocks at your grocery store. You’ll want to buy it just a few hours before you plan to use it, as it is so cold that even freezer temperatures will melt it.

To prepare dry ice for cocktails, gather a flathead screwdriver, a hammer, safety goggles, and thick gloves or tongs. Line the bag of dry ice with a large towel to secure and insulate it. Then use the hammer and screwdriver to carefully tap on the large block of dry ice to break it up into small cubes (or large cubes, if you’d like to add them to a bowl of punch) while wearing the goggles to protect yourself from any possible ice shards, although this shouldn’t be a problem if you chisel gently.

Use thick gloves, tongs, or even better, both, to drop a cube into you and your guests’ glasses right after you’ve poured your cocktail of choice into them. This will not only chill the drink, but it will also cause a dense, fog-like smoke to seep out of it for a handful of minutes until the dry ice melts.

Have you ever used dry ice in your Halloween drinks? Do you have any tips or tricks? Do share!

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