Introduction: Vacuum Infused Fruit Cocktails

About: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs founder and manager for Autodesk and just finished building out…
These fruit cocktails aren't the ones that come in the metal cans that you ate for lunch as a kid. These babies are gastronomical creations involving highly aerated fruits, combinations of alcoholic beverages and a vacuum chamber. Think of pouring a bottle of booze into a watermelon, multiply it by a 100, and add a big dose of class along the way. Using some gourmet gastronomy techniques, some DIY ingenuity, The New York Times as a guide*, and the old fashioned approach of getting boozed up before embarking upon any epic journey, here's how I made alcoholic fruit cocktails.

**This project was completely inspired by the Edible Cocktails article and video in The New York Times. It's basically a DIY version of the exact same process they showcase in the article.**

Step 1: Materials

  • Various fruits with a high content of air within their cell structures. I tried apples, grapes, cucumbers, watermelon and oranges...see results section in step 8 to see what worked best.
  • Your favorite cocktail ingredients - the more experimental the better
  • Vessels large enough to hold your fruit
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Vacuum chamber w/ pressure gauge and pressure release
  • Vacuum pump

Step 2: Prep the Fruit

You need to prepare the fruit so that any and all non-porous membranes are removed. This means peal off all skins, yes even on the grapes, and cut the pieces of fruit so that you create nice little bit sized nibbles.

I de-seeded the cucumber and cut them into little rectangular shaped spears.
The watermelon gets the rind cut off, as many of the seeds taken out and then cubed.
The orange has all skin, pith and seeds removed. I also did my best to try and remove the thinn white membranes that separate each orange section from the one next to it.
The apples get peeled and then cut into bite size slices.

Step 3: Prep Your Cocktails

Make whatever cocktails you like. Try to build infused cocktails by substituting a real piece of fruit for a fruit juice in a typical cocktail recipe.

I tested the following cocktails on the different types of fruit and found them to be quite tasty:

  • Gin martini
  • Vodka martini
  • Straight rum (good with watermelon)
  • Straight vodka (tested on the orange only to create a screwdriver type of drink)

Other ideas I've had:

  • Greyound (vodka and grapefruit juice) infused into a real grapefruit
  • Moscow mule (vodka ginger beer and lime) infused into chunks of ginger

Step 4: Weight Fruit As Necessary

The fruit infuses with alcohol better under vacuum when it's weighted, and therefore underneath the surface of the alcohol bath.

The cucumbers can be weighted with paper clips, as shown below, and suggested in The New York Times article, however I found that simply placing a piece of glass or another bowl on top of the fruit to hold it down inside it's alcohol infusion bath is far easier and more effective.

Step 5: Place in Vacuum Chamber

Pour your cocktail mixture into an appropriate vessel and place your fruit into the cocktail. For the purposes of this Instructable, I propped the containers up on wood blocks so that I would be near the top of my vacuum chamber and therefore easier to photograph. Propping them up on blocks is not necessary.

I gained access to a vacuum chamber because a co-worker who shares our office space had been using one to pull bubbles out of silicone molds he was making. It consists of only a few pieces and is easy to build. Besides the vacuum pump, most of the supplies can be acquired at an industrial plumbing supply store or warehouse.

  • two pieces of 1/4" polycarbonate
  • two rubber flange gaskets
  • 1 12" PVC tube or coupler
  • 1 3CFM 1/4 HP vacuum pump
  • 2-3' of 1/4" PVC braided tubing
  • pressure gauge
  • pressure release valve

Step 6: Turn on the Vacuum

Turn on the vacuum pump for 2-3 minutes and pull a vacuum. Our pump pulled around 23-25" of Hg after running for 15 seconds or so.

As the vacuum forms, you should easily see bubbles escaping from the fruit. The vacuum pulls the air out from the pieces of fruit, and thus allows alcohol to take up that space and infuse the fruit with the cocktail.

*Note: some of the fruit in the photos below is not completely under the top level of the alcohol. Better results were achieved when another bowl, or piece of glass was used to hold the fruit down and keep it below the surface of the cocktail bath.

Step 7: Release Pressure

Once the pump has been running for a 2 or 3 minutes you can shut it off. At this point 90% of the air that's going to come out of the fruit has come out.

In order to get your fruit cocktails out of the vacuum chamber you've got to release the vacuum. Unscrew the pressure release valve.

Step 8: Remove Weight and Enjoy

Remove the fruit from the chamber, remove the weight if you happen to have used one, and enjoy your fruit cocktails!


Watermelon absorbs the most alcohol. Cucumber comes in second. Grapes and apples seem to work about as well as each other, and absorb about half of as much as the cucumber. The orange absorbed the least amount of alcohol/cocktail flavor.

Step 9: Recipe Ideas

This is a step that I'd like to update as I hear back ideas in the comments section.

I've already started brainstorming ideas in my step on mixing the cocktails, but I'm sure the community can come up with more interesting vacuum based cocktail ideas. We want to have a vacuum fruit cocktail party sometimes soon, so your ideas and input are greatly appreciated!

  • Greyound (vodka and grapefruit juice) infused into a real grapefruit
  • Moscow mule (vodka ginger beer and lime) infused into chunks of ginger
  • Your idea here!