Do you like your drinks shaken or stirred? How about completely frozen and on a stick? Ladies and gentlemen, gather around - I present to you: the Cocktail Popsicle. Or Cocksicle, if you will...
While it is impossible to freeze alcohol in a traditional freezer, liquid nitrogen is cold enough to make a boozy pop nice and firm. I got this idea from my Grandpa, who, back in his engineering days in the 50's, would enjoy a "bourbon-sicle" in the lab with his coworkers. They simply filled a dixie cup with bourbon, put a stick in it, and submerged the entire thing in liquid nitrogen.
After a few rounds of testing, I've developed a slightly safer process for making these pops on your own. Because when it's hot out, what's better than an extremely cold treat? An alcoholic one.
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Step 1: Supplies
- Booze of choice
- Liquid Nitrogen - this is relatively easy to get your hands on, once you have a dewar for safe transit. I called up our local gas supplier (Praxair) who were able to fill up my dewer after I brought it down. For a large party, and quite a few popsicles and rounds of liquid nitrogen ice cream, we quickly went through 35 liters.
- Popsicle freezing containers - I went to the Container Store and bought out their supply of small travel containers. Their small, round Nalgene bottles held up well after freezing in LN2, and were easy to modify.
- Popsicle sticks - I found went to a restaurant supply store and bought some hearty coffee stirrers, which I then cut in half.
- Freezer space - so the popsicles can warm up after being frozen
- Safety equipment - high quality gloves for handling the LN2, and a large container for the LN2 pouring/freezing process, a smaller one for moving a little bit of the LN2
Step 2: Prep Containers
Take your travel containers and get yourself an exacto knife. Safely cut off the lid. You want as much of the cylinder as possible, but not the lip where it starts to come in - if you keep that part on, your popsicles won't slide out as easily.
Step 3: Mix Drinks and Pour
Mix your cocktail of choice (recipes and suggestions in step 6) in a separate bottle. You want to make sure these are well mixed, because the alcohol will take longer to freeze than your mixer - and there's nothing worse than a frozen layer of tonic, separate from your layer of gin.
Line your "safe pouring" container with your now-cut popsicle molds, leaving a small opening for where the LN2 will land. Put a popsicle stick in each one. Now pour your boozy concoction into the molds, not quite to the top.
Step 4: Liquid Nitrogen
Now comes the fun part!
CAREFULLY pour your liquid nitrogen into the container, making sure to not hit the top of your pops. You want enough LN2 to go about halfway up your pop molds.
While that's continuing to bubble away, pour some more LN2 into your smaller container. Delicately pour a little bit on top of your popsicles. It will all evaporate away, so don't worry about consuming any - this is just to ensure things freeze evenly from all sides.
Let the whole thing sit for a few minutes, or until the popsicle sticks seem firmly in place.
**pro-tip: besides just sitting there, and watching the popsicles slowly freeze (booooooring), feel free to carefully move the container around, to keep the liquid nitrogen moving. It speeds up the freezing process a little.
Step 5: Let Warm, Then Enjoy!
Once they're sufficiently frozen, resist the temptation to start licking, and move those popsicles into the freezer. We actually hurt a couple tongues in the testing process by licking a too-cold popsicle. Give them at least 30 mins to get to a palatable temperature.
And you're finished! If the pops don't slide out easily, run them quickly under warm water. Cheers!
Step 6: Recipes and Suggestions
Many things were learned when playing around with these popsicles, but the main one is this: the LN2 freezing process actually distils your alcohol further, making it even more strong and boozy tasting. I tried out the original "bourbonsicle" and it was almost unpalatable because of how strong it became (sorry Gramps...). "Shotsicles" were a no go. So when making your own cocktails, mix them weak.
If you want to try a drink with carbonation, know that this freezing process will take out all those bubbles. Frozen beer becomes flat, and champagne turns to wine. Consider yourself warned if you're aching for a rum and coke.
Lastly, when freezing these cocktails, be sure to having them well-mixed. Everything freezes at a different times, and this will ensure your pops not only freeze completely, but also come out tasting good.
After many different drink experiments, these are the ones we found worked best: White Russians (tasted like ice cream - delicious!), and Margaritas (the ultimate frozen margarita). We even served these Margarita pops rolled in a bit of salt. We also played around by skewering some things on the popsicle stick: strawberries for our champagne pops, olives for the martinis, etc.
So what drinks will you try?