Eyeball Cocktails

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Introduction: Eyeball Cocktails

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Eyeballs look great in Halloween cocktails. Here are a couple of popular ways to make them, if you lack a supply of the real thing: olives stuffed into peeled radishes, and cranberries in lychees.* The former looks like it's been freshly plucked from a shambling zombie, complete with optic nerve - the latter has a slightly shrivelled, half-rotted look to it. Both are particularly effective if served disguised in a smoky cocktail; the fog clears and the eyeball leers back at the drinker...

* Both of these ideas are all over the internet, and I found out about them when my color-changing martini appeared on various "Creepy Halloween Foods" lists (dabbled, neatorama, mentalfloss, etc). I concede that it does have a certain mad scientist vibe to it, but it's hardly gross or scary!

Step 1: Ingredients

For the zombie eyeball martini:
Gin (6 parts)
Vermouth (1 part)
Radishes
Pimento-stuffed olives

For the bloody eyeball cocktail:
Vodka (2 parts)
Triple sec (or any orange liquer, e.g. Cointreau, Grand Marnier; 1 part)
Lime juice (1 part)
Cranberry juice (2 parts)
Lychees, canned and peeled in a can
Cranberries (fresh or dried)

Dry ice is optional for both, but makes for a great creepy effect - and of course very effectively chills the drink.

Step 2: Zombie Eyeball Martini

Wash a radish, taking care to retain the root (the "optic nerve" of the eyeball). Trim the crown off so as to leave an exposed white area the same diameter as your olives. Using a small sharp knife, carve out an olive-sized hole. Partially peel the radish, going for a venous and broken-capillary look. Pop an olive in the hole, pimento-stuffing poking out, and use the radish to garnish a martini (6:1 gin:vermouth). If you have no dry ice, shake the ingredients over ice in a cocktail mixer, and add to a chilled martini glasss. If you DO have dry ice, simply pop a chunk in the drink and serve (caution the recipient not to imbibe until the drink has stopped smoking).

The original (?) recipe calls for making the eyeballs the day before, chopping off the root and freezing them into ice cubes overnight, but I imagine a frozen eyeball is harder to snack on. I recommend just making them fresh - their structural integrity is good, and it's easy to pull the eyeball out of the glass by the optic nerve and munch noisily on it.

Step 3: Bloody Eyeball Cocktail

This drink is a kamikaze and cranberry juice garnished with a fuming, rotting eyeball.
Stuff the cavity of a peeled lychee (from a can) with cranberries, as many as it takes to have them slightly protruding. Pop in a martini glass,and add triple sec (or any orange liqueur - we used Grand Marnier), then lime juice, and vodka (1:1:2) and top up with cranberry juice. Add a chunk of dry ice and serve (again, make sure the drinker knows to wait until the smoking stops before consuming). If you have no dry ice, mix the ingredients (but not the eyeball!) in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake then strain into the glass over the eyeball. 

Step 4: Drink (and Eat!) Up

Your guests should be encouraged to eat the eyeballs after knocking back the cocktails - both types are tasty and not just for decoration. The orange liqueur-soaked lychee+cranberry decomposing bloody eyeball is delicious, and the stuffed radish zombie eyeball is positively healthy.

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21 Comments

I have all the ingredients and I can't wait to make these! So creepy! Thanks for sharing. I love how you put this together!

Thanks. Have fun!

Really? Because I saw this several years ago when my friend Denise Delaney was on Martha Stewart... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNggRC2eekg

Congratulations, Denise, that must have been a lot of fun. You can find out how I first encountered this idea if you read the intro. It's an oldie but a goodie, for sure.

Oh, I'm not Denise. However, she continues to have a lot of fun with her annual Eye Ball (I just attended the 9th one), and I'm a great admirer of her seminal creativity. There's nothing like a fabulous and creative hostess. I'm just a lowly academic with a penchant for citations, that's all.

Ah, I see. As it happens, I think your ire is misplaced. I assume you are defending your friend as the supposed inventor of these treats, but I’m not so sure that her claim would stand up to scrutiny. When I discovered these (as per the intro) I did a fair bit of looking around to see if there was an identifiable inventor of either the radish or the lychee eyeball. You have correctly identified the Martha Stewart show as a prominent promulgator of the idea (indeed, they’re the top hit in the link that I provide in the intro), and I have no reason to doubt your claim that your friend introduced it to them. However, the question of whether your friend invented it herself is trickier. If you search for either “radish eyeball” or “lychee eyeball”, you will plenty of references to the idea dating back to the last century. That made me think that the originators of these ideas, like the inventors of most recipes, was lost in the mists of time. It does seem wildly unlikely that the obvious similarity between a radish or a lychee to an eyeball is a recent discovery…

wonderful drinks, but how much of the sprits do you use ? Thank-you

Ha, good point. I've edited the instructions to add ratios. Refresh the page & they should be there. Thanks!