How to make Smoking Cocktails with Dry Ice (or not!) Smokey cocktails are the gold standard of Halloween, adult style, and I’ll show you how to create them at home using dry ice and other trade secrets from the best mixologists.
There’s nothing more spectacular than a great cocktail billowing with spooky smoke, and this effect is easy to do for yourself using dry ice and other creative methods. But don’t think smokey cocktails are only for Halloween, you can infuse a smoke flavor into all kinds of drinks to create a cozy, woodsy, fall vibe.
Scroll down to read all about dry ice and how to use it…
~ Dini, aka The Flavor Bender, makes her own homemade shimmery liqueur for this gorgeous drink, then adds crushed dry ice for a subtle smoking effect. Classic Martini Glasses are a must for this cocktail.
~Half Baked Harvest creates an extra spooky atmosphere with smoking flasks and beakers! She colors her spooky cocktail partially black using activated charcoal, rims her glasses with black lava salt, and then adds a small amount of dry ice for the finishing touch.
~ Craft & Cocktails makes this fruity drink with an interesting cinnamon grapefruit syrup and a touch of absinthe. The long tapered cocktail glass really works to concentrate the dry ice smoke to great effect.
~ Wander Spice bases this interesting cocktail on a classic Basque drink called Kalimotxo ~ it’s equal parts cola and cheap red wine! Katherine takes this cocktail to the next level with a touch of gold lustre dust and gold leaf, both of which you can find on Amazon.
~ made with a homemade blueberry lavender simple syrup and lavender bitters over at Sugar and Charm. The bit of dry ice in the martini glass makes for that perfect grammable moment. Steel Skull Swizzle Sticks add to the drama!
What is dry ice?
- Dry ice looks like regular ice, but is actually solid carbon dioxide, and it’s a super cold -192F. In other words, it’s seriously cold stuff.
- When it ‘melts’ it turns directly back into a gas.
- Dry ice is used for lots of things like shipping, flash freezing, fighting fires, and of course, making awesome cocktails.
- Dry ice is sold in blocks or in pellet form.
Where can I buy dry ice?
- Here’s a handy dry ice locator, it will tell you where you can buy it in your area. Many large supermarkets carry it.
- Purchase your ice shortly before you are going to use it because it melts away fairly quickly, so if possible pick it up a few hours before you’re going to use it. A 5 pound block of dry ice will evaporate in 24 hours.
How do I store dry ice?
- Keep dry ice in a styrofoam or insulated cooler with the lid ajar to allow air flow.
- Do not put your dry ice in your freezer or refrigerator, it can damage it.
- Don’t leave dry ice in a closed car or room, you need good ventilation so that the carbon dioxide doesn’t build up to a toxic level.
- Don’t set your dry ice directly on your counter top, it can cause it to crack.
- Be especially careful to keep your dry ice away from children and pets.
How to handle dry ice
- Do not touch dry ice with bare hands, it’s way too cold and will cause frostbite, use sturdy gloves. Use tongs to put cubes into drinks.
How to dispose of dry ice
- Let the dry ice evaporate in a well ventilated area. Do not flush it down the toilet (it can burst your pipes!) put it in the trash, or leave it on the lawn where unsuspecting animals can come in contact with it.
How to use dry ice in cocktails
- Dry ice is safe to use in cocktails, it will not alter the flavor in any way. The ice will sink to the bottom of your glass, but take extra precaution not to ingest it or touch it in any way.
- You’ll need a hammer, screwdriver, and goggles to chisel your block of dry ice into ‘cubes’. You can also crush the ice for a more subtle effect.
- Drop the cubes (using tongs) into the bottom of your cocktail or punch bowl and it will immediately start to smoke.
- Since dry ice doesn’t melt into liquid, you can keep adding more as needed to a punch, for instance, and it will not dilute your recipe.
- Wait for the smoking to stop and the ice to completely melt before drinking your cocktail, it is not safe to drink while the dry ice is still present.
- Check out these cool swizzle sticks that encapsulate the dry ice for safe smoking effects.
Other ways to create a smokey cocktail
Don’t want to mess with dry ice? There are other ways to get a smokey effect in your cocktails. It’s not only super cool, the flavor is amazing. Here are three different ways to get that wonderful element of smoke into your drinks…
~ Over at The Jewels of New York they make smoking torches out of rosemary sprigs…genius! The technique is simple: light the tip of the rosemary with a lighter or torch until smoking (if it flames, just blow it out.) Insert in the drink and serve. The sprig will smolder beautifully and create a great aroma.
~ Matt from Nomageddon smokes his own simple syrup with woods like pecan, maple, or apple. He puts a basic simple syrup in a 9×13 pan and smokes it in his outdoor smoker. He then uses his syrup to impart a sultry smokey flavor to his cocktails. Fruit Wood Chips are readily available online and in grilling stores.
~ I love the easy smoking technique that Advanced Mixology uses, it involves trapping smoke in a jar, then pouring the cocktail into the jar and shaking the drink briefly to infuse it with smoke. It’s amazing how quickly this imparts a delightful smoked flavor to the drink. The flavor will vary depending on what you use to create your smoke. You can use wood chips, or even tea or tobacco! There’s a lot of room for creativity here.
You can buy a cool Smoking Gun Smoke Infuser to add a smoked flavor to all kinds of foods like cocktails, meats, cheese, dips, etc. I’ve actually got this tool on my wish list this year :)