August 28, 2008

spiked slushies a la bill nye the science guy

double, double toil and trouble, slushy churn and cauldron bubble

If you want frozen cocktails that double as serious entertainment, you’ve come to the right place. What I have for you today involves a drill, a slab of dry ice, vodka and mixers — prepare to be amazed.

Basically for this activity/refreshment station, you create a dry ice bowl, and then mix various liquids in the bowl until they form a slush. First things first: Don’t touch dry ice with your bare hands, and don’t eat it — these are dangerous things. The gas will expand in your stomach, and too much of that is really, really bad. In this instance, we’re using the surface of dry ice to turn liquids into slushies, so your exposure to it is minimal. (It may, however, make you burp — this is the gas that creates carbonation.)

Another word of caution: Be sure you do this in a well-ventilated area to reduce exposure to excessive CO2 fumes. Also, ignore the person above who ignored the gloves I supplied — it’s safer to wear them if your hands are going to be near dry ice, which can cause frostbite when touched.

If those warnings haven’t scared you off, read on for the instructions on how to throw this mad scientist party for adults, courtesy of Amanda Gall at Bold American Catering in Atlanta. The catering company made these slushies at a party I attended, which I wouldn’t shut up about for months. Then I pestered Amanda until she told me how they did it.

  • On my Evite invitation, I requested everyone bring a flavored vodka and a mixer. That way we had a ton of varieties to choose from that could be combined with each other. And this is the type of gathering that favors a smaller number of guests — I found 12 to be a good number.
  • Purchase a solid block of pure, food-grade (not industrial) dry ice. A 10-by-10-inch slab works fine. You may want to purchase more than one slab to have various slushies stewing at once. Dry ice wasn’t nearly as intimidating to find as I expected. I got it at an ice wholesaler, and it ran about $1 a pound. Don’t purchase it before the day of the party because it will evaporate. And put it in a cooler instead of your freezer because it may turn your freezer off.
  • Make sure you have a power drill (I borrowed one) and a coarse (not fine) wire brush attachment. (I purchased a three-inch one at a hardware store.)
  • Using the power drill and brush carve out a bowl shape in the dry ice — just enough so the liquid doesn’t come out. Mine was a little bigger than a shot glass size. Keep in mind, the hole will enlarge as the evening goes on.
  • Pour a cocktail into the bowl, and use two metal teaspoons to stir the liquid constantly. You’ll feel like you’re scraping the bottom of the bowl, Amanda says. The mixture will bubble, the dry ice will mist, and you’ll feel like a witch over a cauldron. In about two minutes, the liquid will start to freeze.
  • When it’s a nice, slushy consistency, spoon the mixture back into the cocktail glass and drink your refreshing, icy concoction. Group favorites at my gathering: Vanilla vodka and root beer (a slushy root beer float!) and raspberry vodka, lemonade and a touch of seltzer.

Is this a low-maintenance party? Absolutely not. But astounding, tasty and totally worth the hullabaloo.

Posted by Christine on August 28, 2008 in Food and Drink , Parties

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20 responses to "spiked slushies a la bill nye the science guy "

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I think this is awesome! When we have our house warming party, this will be there, def!!!

Whoa, that is pretty dangerous stuff. The cocktails, being around -170F, will cause instant frostbite in your mouth. I wouldn't want to serve these to my guests.

Grow a pair Tim. Bill Nye is the shizz!

Tim: I was concerned about this myself and ran my post by a food scientist before posting it here. She said: if you stuck a solid chunk of dry ice in your mouth, it can cause frostbite. But in this instance, we're using the dry ice to chill the drinks and aren't eating the ice itself, so that's not a danger here. On a side note: I've tried it a few times and am still frostbite-free!

Pure childishness and dangerous as well.

As a PROFESSIONAL CHEF educated in New York City and as the SENIOR ADVISER for the SeriousEats website, I find this post inappropriate.

Louise ("therealchiffonade")
Clearwater, Florida

We are all so impressed with your credentials chiff0nade, oh wait, no we're not. If you can't see the novelty in this creation you must not be a very creative chef. Oh and by the way there must be a million crappy culinary institutes in NY, did you go the Chef Boyardee academy?

Fascinating idea!

And to allay some fears, with a small amount of common sense, dry ice and such are actually quite safe.

The drinks are chilling, and so are not the same temperature as the ice (if you DID chill them that long, it would be solid, not slush).

Also, the CO2 is a bit heavy, so most of it will sink in your room. Without adequate ventilation, it is possible small pets could suffocate.

Touching the ice for very short periods (a few seconds) is ok, but be SURE you treat it as a hot potato; any more time, and the water in you skin will start to freeze (and it will freeze far faster than you'd be used to from snow!).

But assuming this is approached with adult responsibleness, this can bring out the childish empiricist in anyone :)

That's awesome. This comment section is a good example of the continuing pussification of America. The people complaining have probably never been invited to dry ice parties (or anything for that matter) and are jealous.

The temp of dry ice is NOT, in fact, -170F. It is around -109F or -79C. However the temperature of the drinks (as Andrew stated) would not drop down that far if you consumed them as a slush. If nothing else, just go buy a small block of dry ice and play around with it. I can be fun, entertaining and educational!

These are great for college students but make sure the little kiddies do not get their paws on this stuff ;)

Thank You. I live in Florida and we are always trying new things for our dinner party group. This is awesome and I am going to try your drink recipes. For our girl scout troop we took some piceces of dry ice and put them in a bowl with some orange soda and made a witches brew. The kids went crazy over it and didn't move away from the bowl. We had an adult help scoop the witches brew into the plastic cups. The kids were 3rd grade and under and would not stop talking about it. I think your idea is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.

Nice one! As we start rolling into the Halloween season, this is an excellent and unexpected party treat! Thanks for this. Bookmarked and Dugg!

I'll be doing this at my next party and don't worry, I'll be sure to wear my white sequined gloves.

Grow a pair Louise. Bill Nye is the shizz!

Yeah good to know a "Senior Adviser" who is so educated knows how to spell their job title correctly.

Cool idea, btw.


DEADLY. Here's how and why.

A small chunk of dry ice in your drink.
You swallow.
Dry ice vaporizes in your tummy.
Tummy and intestines explode (literally).

At a minimum, you will be belching painfully and farting explosively and uncontrollably. Rude behavior at any party.

The creativity of this is second only to thedentist coming up with the word pussification. I've put dry ice into a pop can and drank from that can ONCE THE DRY ICE IS GONE. As long as people don't get to stupid after a few drinks, it really isn't that scary.

Wowza! I would not want to be your liability lawyer! Do you know anyone who does not get stupid after a few drinks? That's what alcohol does - kills brain cells remember? I do drink occasionally too but this seems over the top - like combining knife throwing with alcohol - just takes one oops!

jesus christ a lot of you are so stupid and afraid of everything. If you've never played with dry ice please don't go telling other people what to do. This is 100% safe. just use the #1 rule of dry ice: cold = good. burning = bad. stop touching it when it burns/goes numb. if you put it in your mouth, don't swallow, just let it sublimate and exhale the C02-smoky stuff. Not like you will have any in your mouth if you do this right. It should be mostly frozen alcohol/mixer with a small amount of dry ice. Although as you add stuff, a frozen layer of what you are pouring on it should prevent it from getting much dry ice in your drink at all.