Make Your Next Cocktail Magical By Adding Dry Ice

Cocktails are supposed to be entertaining. It's a spectacle to watch the bartender shake the ingredients, the glasses are fun and elegant, and the whole thing is garnished with something to feast your eyes on before you ever take a sip. An underutilized ingredient in the bartender's toolbox is dry ice. Add it to cocktails and you've got a fantastic effect of smoky bubbles bringing your concoction to life. Even if we know what's causing it, it never ceases to bring a spark of joy to our eyes when we see it.

You usually find dry ice being used behind the bar around Halloween as part of a spooky cauldron of some boozy punch, but there's no reason we can't bring it out from the shadows of ghouls and goblins and into the light of a sunny summer sipper or a celebratory holiday beverage. The only limit is your creativity, whether you're a home mixologist looking for new ideas or a bar manager crafting a new menu.

Fair warning, consuming dry ice is incredibly dangerous. Dry ice is -109 degrees Fahrenheit and can give you frostbite just by touching it with your bare skin. Please use thick gloves when handling dry ice (not latex) and protect whoever is going to drink the cocktail by securing the dry ice within a mesh tea strainer topped with regular ice. This way, they won't accidentally swallow it which would be the ultimate buzz kill.

Dry ice cocktail ideas

Now that the health and safety warning is out of the way, let's talk about cocktails. If you're making drinks for just a few people, you can get a little more bold in your cocktail design. If you're serving a party or running a bar, the amount of time you're spending on the dry ice step of the drink could become a hassle if you're not careful since it requires some preparation.

If you plan your party ahead of time and have the supplies for it, you could place the dry ice into the strainers before everyone arrives. That way, people can grab and go. This would work great with a bowl of punch where people can place the strainer in the glass, place ice over the strainer, and then pour in the punch.

For a commercial bar, cutting down on time spent per drink is crucial. Consider having a barback be your designated dry ice person and either stick to something simple like a gin and tonic or something you've already made a batch of so the bartender only has to pour it in. This will keep wait times down and decrease the likelihood that your bartender will accidentally cause a dry ice accident once they get deep into the weeds of a busy night and start to cut corners.