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How to Creep-Out Your Cocktails with Dry Ice

Four colorful cocktails with fog rolling off the tops.
Lukas Gojda/Shutterstock

If you’re in charge of the drinks this Halloween, step up your creepy cocktail game. A block of dry ice will create a frightening fog, fit to garnish your best bloodcurdling beverages.

Nothing says Halloween like the presence of a dense and eerie mist. Whether it’s floating over the halls of the undead or being pumped onto a dance floor by a poorly paid DJ, fog is always a chilling manifestation of this haunted holiday. And while fog machines are fun, we think the classiest way to include this ghostly gloom is atop your cocktail.

That’s right; we’re talking about putting dry ice in drinks. The thought in itself is scary to some since dry ice isn’t edible. But not to worry—we promise to show you how to keep it spooky while still being safe. Friends and family are sure to freak when you hand them a smoking glass to guzzle.

So, let’s brew some bubbly (or just open a bottle) and make some magical mist.

All About Dry Ice

If you add a few cubes of dry ice to any cocktail, creepy tendrils of fog will lurch forward from the glass. It’s a trick sure to delight adult party-goers, and it’s incredibly easy to recreate.

Let’s start with the facts. Dry ice is carbon dioxide held at -110 F. At this temperature, CO2 becomes a solid. The second it begins to warm, it sublimates into a gas. You’ve likely seen carbon dioxide in a gaseous state around Halloween, bubbling out of staged plastic cauldrons or crawling from behind a well-crafted Styrofoam grave marker. But its effects are greatly enhanced in smaller containers, like a drinking glass. Thus, its appearance in creepy cocktails.

You can purchase dry ice at most grocery stores. You have to ask a store clerk to get it for you, though, as touching it without safety gear is dangerous. It’s usually sold in one or two-pound blocks and should be relatively cheap.

You need a one-inch chunk of ice per smoking cocktail, but we suggest you buy slightly more than you think you’ll need. Dry-ice sublimates quickly, even if you keep it in the freezer. This is why we recommend you purchase it just a few hours before your party. That way, it will last the whole night.

And, of course, we have to include the safety info. First, always wear gloves when you handle dry ice. If you touch it without protection for more than ten seconds, it can cause frostbite. Children, in particular, should never be allowed to touch dry ice or be given a drink with dry ice in it.

Finally, never put dry ice in a sealed container—especially a glass one—as the sublimation process will create excessive pressure and shatter it.

Dry Ice in Cocktails

Now that you’ve procured the magic ingredient, let’s talk about how to put it in your cocktails. Because it’s sold in one- or two-pound blocks, the first step is to break the dry ice into cubes. You’ll need a flathead screwdriver, a towel, goggles, and a hammer.

First, put on the goggles. This prevents any dry-ice shrapnel from permanently damaging your eyes. Next, place the dry ice, still in its plastic bag, on the towel. This will help keep it sturdy. Open the plastic surrounding the dry ice, and then use the hammer and screwdriver to chisel off one-inch chunks. The chunks should break off easily with just some gentle tapping.

Always use tongs to add the chunks to your cocktails, and tell your guests not to eat the dry ice cube. This isn’t typically a problem, as dry ice is heavy, and, unlike a regular ice cube, it will sink to the bottom of the glass. To be perfectly safe, though, tell guests their beverages aren’t ready to drink until the “smoke” has cleared. That takes about three to five minutes.

If you want to play it extra safe, there are specialty cocktail and shot glasses that will hold dry ice at the bottom of the glass. With these glasses, your guests can sip their Halloween cocktails worry-free.

Perfect Dry Ice Cocktail Glasses

WNA Comet FFRG1248 FunFusions 12 oz. Clear 2-Piece Plastic Rocks Glass with Strainer - 6/Pack

These cool cocktail glasses aren't just great for dry ice concoctions, but they trap fruit and spices at the bottom of infused drinks, too.

For the spookiest of effects, serve brightly-colored cocktails. Reds, greens, and blues look best beneath a layer of smoke. So, grenadine, blue curaçao, and Midori should be staples at your Halloween bar. Luckily, all three make incredible cocktails!

Murderous mists and frightening fogs are standard on Halloween night. Bring them out of the graveyard and into your beverages with the magic of dry ice. It’s affordable, easy to use, and sure to spook even the steadiest of spirits.

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »
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