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.