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Using Dry Ice in Mixed Drinks: Everything You Need to Know

Source: The View From Great Island

Fall is the perfect time for long walks in the woods, apple picking and smoking cocktails. Yes, you got that right. If you can get your hands on some dry ice, you can shake up some spooky, “smoking” drinks just in time for Halloween.

But what exactly is dry ice and how do you go about using it in cocktails? Here’s everything you should know before using this mysterious element as a garnish.

What Is Dry Ice?

Dry ice is carbon dioxide in solid form. At an impressively low -109.3°F, it’s extremely cold and closely resembles normal ice cubes. However, dry ice may appear white as water vapor readily freezes onto the surface, much like it would on the inside of a freezer. Dry ice also sinks in water, unlike water ice.

As it sublimates, the dry ice will change from a solid directly into a gas. The gaseous carbon dioxide will then float to the top of the beverage and billow over the sides of the glass. A small cube of dry ice will continue to smoke for a few minutes before completely evaporating.

Safety Precautions

Since dry ice is incredibly cold, you must practice caution while handling it. Otherwise, you may risk burns and frostbite. Use leather gloves or a towel to protect your hands and never consume dry ice, as it can cause internal burns. You should also keep dry ice away from countertops, tile and kitchen backsplashes, as its extreme temperature can easily cause them to crack.

Because dry ice expands thermally over time and releases carbon dioxide, it’s essential to practice safety when storing and transporting it, too. Roll down your car windows when transporting dry ice and store it in an open area with good ventilation. Never place dry ice in a tightly sealed container or freezer, as the pressure from gas buildup may cause an explosion.

How to Use Dry Ice in Drinks

As dangerous as dry ice may sound, you can, in fact, use it in cocktails. Wrap the block of dry ice in a towel and place it on your counter. Then, use a hammer to gently break it apart into chunks. Use tongs to transfer the small pieces into an open container until guests arrive. When the cocktails are ready, simply drop a chunk or two into each glass and serve.

The ice will sink to the bottom of the glass so everyone can sip their drinks safely. Just be sure to remind guests not to eat the cube when they finish their drink.

Source: The Rose Table

Some Killer Smokey Cocktails

Dry ice carbonates beverages and increases their alkalinity, giving them a slightly acidic or sour flavor. Balance out the acidity with the perfect cocktail recipe. Here are a few that may inspire you:

Martini at Midnight

  • 3 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. blue curacao
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine

Shake up all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and carefully strain into a martini glass. Toss in some dry ice and garnish with a blackberry.

Witches’ Brew

  • 2 oz. scotch
  • 1/2 oz. fino sherry
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. beet juice

Shake everything together in a shaker with ice. Strain into a rocks glass and add your dry ice for a seriously spooky beverage.

Vampire’s Kiss

  • 1/8 cup red wine
  • 1/8 cup cola

Mix these two simple ingredients together, add a bit of gold lustre and a gold leaf, and drop in the dry ice. Serve immediately.

Dry Ice Disposal

After making the cocktails, be sure to dispose of any leftover dry ice safely. Wear protective clothing and gloves as you transport the remnants to a safe location outside. Set them in an open cooler to sublimate until no solids remain. A pound or two of dry ice should evaporate within a few hours, so be sure to check on your cooler periodically.

Enjoy Responsibly

As you sip and mingle, remind your friends not to throw their glasses too far back. As long as they oblige, you’ll all have a fun, foggy, frightful evening.

Oscar Collins