Eyeball Cocktails




About: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture

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!

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Step 1: Ingredients

For the zombie eyeball martini:
Gin (6 parts)
Vermouth (1 part)
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 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

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

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    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…


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Sure, that would work (step 2 mentions freezing them inside ice cubes), but you couldn't eat them immediately and I'm not sure what they're like after thawing (some vegetables turn into mush).


    8 years ago on Step 2

    Thanks for your instruction about the dry ice. I never have used it and since this will be our 5th annual party I want to do it up. I was wondering what the "precautions" were in using dry ice...This is great!!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Dry ice is pretty easy to handle. Use tongs to pick it up (though quick handling with bare hands is fine). You just have to make sure no one ingests it, so tell your guests to wait for the dry ice to disappear before drinking. Generally best to serve this sort of drink early in the party while everyone is reasonably sober. Have fun!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very very cool, the garnishes would even work well in a virgin bloody mary for kids. Great ible. I would offer one word of advice though, dry ice can do some major damage to the inside of your mouth and/or throat. So I'd say make sure none is left in the glass before turning up and gulping down.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Cheers! - and you`re quite right about not consuming the dry ice. I alluded to that in step 2, but I`ve added a reminder to step 3 as well. There is actually a commercial product that makes smoky cocktails safe, but provided you don`t serve them to someone who`s completely plastered, it should be OK. And as a side note, these drinks are probably a lot less hazardous than my liquid nitrogen cocktail...  :)