Looking to add some drama to your cocktails? Dry ice is the perfect ingredient! It can add a touch of flair and excitement to any drink.
Using dry ice in cocktails is easy. First, purchase some in pellet form from your local grocery store. Once you have it, encase the dry ice in a mesh strainer and submerge it into the drink for a smoky effect.
This blog post will teach you how to safely use dry ice in cocktails. We will also provide some tips and recipes for you to try out!
What is Dry Ice?
Dry ice is simply frozen carbon dioxide (CO2). It is extremely cold, -109.3 °F or -78.5 °C to be exact.
When dry ice warms up, it sublimates, turning directly from a solid into a gas. This process can create some pretty spectacular results, which is why dry ice is often used for special effects in movies and TV shows.
This versatile ingredient can also be used to create unique and exciting cocktails perfect for parties, special events, or just when you want to impress your friends.
Why Use Dry Ice in Cocktails?
Dry ice is a great way to add a little bit of excitement to your cocktails. Not only does it look cool, but it can also help keep your drinks cold longer. Plus, it's a lot of fun to play with!
One of the biggest advantages of using dry ice in cocktails is that it can help quick-chill them. Simply add a few pieces of dry ice to the glass, and your drink will be frosty cold in no time.
Dry ice releases carbon dioxide, perfect for creating a smokey effect in cocktails. Watch as the smoke billows out the glass—this is a great way to impress your guests!
As mentioned earlier, dry ice sublimates. So, when you add dry ice to a cocktail, the only thing that happens is that the drink gets colder without changing its taste.
This is especially helpful if you're making a large batch of drinks or want to avoid diluting your drink with ice cubes.
Where to Buy Dry Ice?
Dry ice is relatively inexpensive and available in most major grocery stores like Costco and Walmart. Many small grocery chains also carry it. You can easily contact a supplier if you run a commercial establishment and need it in bulk.
When buying dry ice, you must decide if you want it in block or pellet form. We recommend getting it in pellets if you use it in drinks, so you don’t have to use a hammer or ice pick to break it.
How to Use Dry Ice in Cocktails
Step 1: Wear safety gear
Before using dry ice, always wear gloves made of canvas or silicone. Never handle dry ice with bare hands, as it will result in frostbite. You can also wear a face mask to protect yourself from carbon dioxide emissions.
Step 2: Get a towel
Keeping a towel handy prevents dry ice from directly touching your bar counter’s surface, which could potentially damage or crack it.
Step 3: Break the dry ice into smaller pieces
If you have already bought dry ice pellets, skip this step. But if you have a block of dry ice, you can break it into small pieces in two ways.
One is putting it into a sealable plastic bag and dropping it from waist height onto a hard surface like concrete. Or you can put the dry ice in its plastic bag and use an ice pick or a hammer to crush it.
Step 4: Put the dry ice into a tea ball strainer
It is not safe to eat or swallow dry ice, so put the pellets in a stainless steel mesh strainer.
The tea ball strainer has a chain and a hook that you can hang on the side of the glass, making it easy to remove the dry ice before serving the drink.
Additionally, this bar tool prevents dry ice from crumbling and the pieces from getting into the cocktail. And since the liquid will come in direct contact with the dry ice, it will cool the drink rapidly.
Step 5: Place the strainer with dry ice into the glass
Add marble-sized dry ice into the strainer, close the lid, and hang it using the chain on the side of the glass. Ensure that you put the tea ball strainer before any liquids enter the glass, so the smoky effect rises to the top.
Step 6: Add regular ice on top of the strainer
Regular ice is necessary for properly diluting spirits in cocktails.
Step 7: Add liquids at room temperature
This will cause the dry ice to rapidly turn into gas and create a dramatic "smoke" effect. It will also bring the drink to a proper cool temperature to make it perfectly balanced.
Step 8: Blow off the smoke before drinking
Dry ice is a popular choice for cocktails because it creates a unique smoking effect. However, you should blow off the smoke before drinking. Otherwise, you risk ingesting too much carbon dioxide, which can be dangerous.
Tips for Using Dry Ice in Cocktails
Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide—the gas that gives soda its fizz. Unlike regular ice cubes, dry ice doesn't melt - it sublimates, meaning it goes directly from a solid to a gas. Here are a few tips on how to use dry ice:
Use clean, food-grade dry ice
Do not use dry ice that has been used for other purposes, as it may be contaminated.
Do not directly place dry ice on the countertop
As highlighted above, we recommend getting a towel when using dry ice. This is because dry ice can crack or discolor the surface of countertops or tiles when in direct contact for more than a few seconds.
Keep out of reach of children
As dry ice can cause burns, it is important to keep it away from pets and children, especially because they are extremely curious and attracted to touching it.
Do not swallow dry ice under any circumstances
Most bartenders and mixologists use dry ice to cool down or improve the drink's aesthetics; however, it is not fit for consumption. No matter how aesthetically pleasing it looks, ingesting dry ice can lead to many problems, including damage to the throat and esophagus.
If you have carefully gone through the above steps to use dry ice in cocktails, we suggest placing it in a mesh strainer ball. This will prevent dry ice fragments from getting mixed with the drink. You can remove the strainer ball before serving the cocktail unless you need a more dramatic smoky effect.
Choose the right size ice cubes
Dry ice comes in different sizes, so be sure to get the right size for your needs. If you're making large drinks, like a punch, you'll need larger cubes. For individual cocktails, smaller blocks will work better.
Use it immediately after buying
Storing dry ice for a long time is not advisable as it converts from solid to gas in approximately 24 hours, even if you store it in a cooler.
Under no circumstances should you intend to store it for days either, so buy it only a few hours before using it. That way, the volume loss due to the conversion into gas will be minimal.
Do not inhale the fumes
When dry ice sublimates, it gives off carbon dioxide gas. This gas can be harmful if inhaled and cause breathing difficulties, so be sure to ventilate the area when using dry ice.
Do not dispose of it in the trash
The general tendency among inexperienced dry ice users is to throw the leftover in the trash. Unfortunately, this could lead to carbon dioxide buildup detrimental to the health of individuals handling the trash later.
Sometimes, the accumulation of CO2 gas can be so high that it can lead to a small explosion which can injure anyone in the vicinity. So, instead of just throwing away the leftover dry ice, dispose of it using the proper procedure (see below).
How to Store Dry Ice
If you plan on using dry ice in your cocktails, you need to know how to store it. Dry ice is extremely cold and can cause serious burns. That's why it's important to handle it with care. Here are some tips for storing dry ice:
Keep the dry ice in an insulated container
If you're not using it immediately, store the dry ice in a clean styrofoam container. The container in itself should not be airtight to facilitate proper air circulation.
Be sure to label the container
This step is important so that anyone doesn’t accidentally touch or ingest the dry ice.
Do not touch the dry ice with your bare hands
Always use gloves or tongs when handling dry ice to protect your hands from frostbite. In addition to wearing gloves, you should avoid touching the dry ice with your bare skin.
If you come into contact with it, wash the area with soap and water immediately.
How to Dispose of Dry Ice
You should never throw dry ice in the sink, drain, or trash.
Flushing it down the drain or in the toilet can burst the pipes and result in a mess. If you dispose of it outside, there is always the risk of someone coming in contact with it and suffering from frostbite.
On the other hand, putting it into the trash increases the risk of CO2 accumulation and explosion. So, the best way is to let it evaporate naturally while ensuring it is not accessible to pets, children, or adults.
The Best Dry Ice Drinks and Cocktails
Dry ice is a great way to keep your drinks cold and your party guests entertained. These dry ice drinks will surely be a hit at your next party or event:
This mocktail recipe uses ginger ale, pineapple juice, and lime sherbet. You can use green food coloring to turn this drink neon green. Additionally, you can enhance its aesthetics by using dry ice for some smoky effect.
If you're looking for a cocktail that gives out a spooky appearance when chilled with dry ice, Poison Apple is perfect! You can add black lava salt on the glass rim for a more eerie feel.
Love potion is the popular name for Vampire's Kiss. The ingredients include vodka, cranberry juice, lemon juice, and raspberry liqueur. The cocktail has an attractive bright red color. Add to that the dry ice fog effect, and you get a delicious and stunning drink.
Smoking Blueberry Lavender
The combination of blueberry lavender syrup, lavender bitters, and the smoky appearance of dry ice makes this drink hard to miss!
Dry Ice Punch
This cocktail uses apple juice, ginger ale, cranberry juice, and aged rum. Its distinctive red color, coupled with the smoke, certainly makes it a vibrant drink that looks very similar to a cauldron containing a magical liquid.
DIY Alternative for Dry Ice in Cocktails
If you don’t want to use dry ice to get that smoky effect in drinks, use the rosemary sprig method instead. This technique will produce less smoke than dry ice, but it still works!
Step 1: Light a rosemary sprig. In case it catches fire, blow it out to release the smoke.
Step 2: Hold the drink’s glass upside down over the sprig until it is filled with smoke.
Step 3: Once the glass is full of smoke, pour in the liquids to make your cocktail.
Step 4: Before you serve the glass, light up a sprig and add it to the drink. It will smolder, produce smoke, and add a unique rosemary flavor.
Dry Ice Drinks FAQ
Can you drink dry ice?
No, drinking dry ice can be extremely dangerous and cause severe burns. When it touches your skin, lips, or internal organs, it will immediately cause frostbite.
While it is good enough for chilling drinks and bringing the temperature down of various liquids and foodstuffs, we strongly advise against eating or swallowing it.
Can you add dry ice to a drink?
Yes, you can add dry ice to a drink. However, it is important to take care when doing so, as it can be dangerous if not done properly.
To avoid breaking the dry ice into smaller pieces and mixing it with your drink, we recommend using the stainless steel mesh strainer highlighted above.
You can also wait 7-8 minutes after adding a chunk of dry ice to the drink to ensure that it converts into CO2. This way, you can safely consume your beverage after visually inspecting that there’s no dry ice left over.
Is dry ice safe for kids' drinks?
Yes, dry ice is safe for kids' drinks as long as you take the proper precautions. Ensure that the drink is not too cold and that the dry ice is completely dissolved before serving. Also, be sure to supervise children while they are handling the dry ice.
Using it to cool down drinks, you can avoid direct contact between the dry ice and the drink. Simply cool the glass from the outside rather than putting ice into the vessel.
What happens if you add dry ice to alcohol?
How much dry ice do I need for a cocktail?
A 1-inch cube of dry ice is enough for a single cocktail glass. Since it is extremely cold, there is no need to use it in greater quantity.
Moreover, since dry ice is difficult to preserve for a long time, limited usage ensures that you can cool multiple glasses of drinks with just a small block.
What happens if you drink melted dry ice?
Dry ice undergoes the process of sublimation, where it gets directly converted from solid to liquid. That is why “melted” dry ice doesn't exist.
When solid dry ice comes in contact with your mouth and internal organs, it will freeze them instantly. The amount of CO2 inside your body will also increase, resulting in excessive pressure and rupturing the stomach and esophagus.
Can you put dry ice directly in your mouth?
No, you shouldn't put dry ice in your mouth as it can cause frostbite, burns, and even tissue rupturing.
Is dry ice toxic to breathe?
Dry ice is concentrated CO2. The sublimation process directly converts dry ice into carbon dioxide, so inhaling it in larger concentrations can harm your health.
Can I make dry ice at home?
It is possible to make dry ice at home using the CO2 from a fire extinguisher or pressurized CO2 in a cartridge. But the procedure isn't simple, and buying it from a store is cheaper.
Can dry ice cause headaches?
Yes, exposure to CO2 from dry ice for a long time can result in headaches. The solution is to use it in a well-ventilated area so the carbon dioxide can disperse quickly.
Will dry ice ruin a freezer?
You shouldn’t keep dry ice in a freezer because it will convert to CO2, which may result in an explosion. Aside from that, the extremely cold temperature of CO2 will cause the thermostat to shut down and damage it.
Using dry ice in cocktails is a fun way to impress your guests at your next party. It’s easy to use and can create some really cool effects. However, when using dry ice, you should keep a few things in mind to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time.
So, have you tried using dry ice in your drinks? What did you think?