The Color-Changing Martini

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Introduction: The Color-Changing Martini

About: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture

This drink smokes elegantly, changes from a calm blue to fuschia as it cools from room temperature to drinkably cold, and tastes like a dirty martini.

(For the non-alcoholic, dry ice-free version, see the color-changing sports drink)

Step 1: Ingredients

You'll need:

Gin (or vodka, for a vodka martini) ~ Vermouth ~ Dry Ice ~ Baking Soda ~ Red Cabbage 

Step 2: Red #$@%! Cabbage?

Yes. Red cabbage contains a water-soluble anthocyanin that is a pH indicator. At low pH (acid), it's red. It's purple at neutral pH, and goes blue then green as the solution becomes alkaline. You're not going to see the full range here, because we want the drink to be, well, drinkable.

To get the indicator, chop up a cabbage leaf, put it in a bowl with some water, and microwave until it's boiling (or just add boiling water and allow to steep). A purple pigment will stain the water.

Step 3: Build

Add a teaspoon of cabbage juice... I mean indicator solution - to the martini glass. Then add very small quantities of baking soda, just enough to turn the solution blue. Add gin (or vodka) and vermouth (~6:1) to the glass. You should have a pale blue clear liquid.

Step 4: Present

Give the recipient the drink. Tell them to watch closely, then add a chunk of dry ice. It will sink to the bottom of the drink, and bubble away happily, slowly cooling the drink. It will also neutralise the baking soda and change the colour of the martini. See it in action in the video above.

(that's not me saying "wow, that's wicked" by the way. This drink was mostly made as a way of keeping three small children entertained while their mother was out Christmas shopping. They liked the look of the cocktail, but thought the mocktail version was "really disgusting". I did warn them that it was just salty, cabbage-flavoured water...)

It should go without saying, but wait for the dry ice to disappear before trying to drink the cocktail. You do NOT want to swallow any dry ice!

Step 5: Taste

In the interests of science, I tried some of the baking soda/indicator mix straight. Baking soda tastes salty on its own, and rather overpowers the cabbage juice. The latter by itself doesn't taste of much; a slightly sweet, vegetably taste, nothing like what its violent colour suggests. Overall, it flavours the martini in a way reminiscent of a dirty martini (martini with olive brine added). So you'll only like it if you like dirty martinis, probably a pretty small constituency.

I didn't initially regard this drink as spooky in any way, so was surprised to see it appear on various "Creepy Halloween Foods" lists (dabbled, neatorama, mentalfloss, etc). The lists were great and well worth checking out (they included some really effective eyeball recipes - see here for my version). 

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    76 Discussions

    Very fun, thanks, sorry I am late to join the question party but I will try none the less;

    Could I make ice cubes out of carbonated water and use this to replace the dry ice?

    It appears all you need is the indicator liquid-mixed with soda, then co2 to change the acidity,..right?....or replace the co2 cubes with frozen acidic liquid,...maybe pineapple juice?

    1 reply

    I think it is unlikely that you will preserve much CO2 in the ice cube. But yes, adding acid of pretty much any source will make it change color, see https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Color-Changing...

    I haven't tried it but you might even be able to just blow through a straw and do it with the CO2 in your breath.

    Hi Makendo!

    This is a great drink idea but was wondering if you had any ideas of changing the drink color to the color blue? Is this even possible considering blue is a primary color.

    I'm having a gender reveal party and would love to have a drink that the end color turns blue...any suggestions?

    1 reply

    Yes, absolutely. Just start it off purple (you probably won't have to do anything to it - it's naturally purple - but if it is blue, add a *tiny* amount of acid). Add base (a weak baking soda solution) to make it go blue (add citric acid if you decide you want red, see https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Color-Changing-Sports-Drink-Mocktail/ for more details). Just make sure you experiment ahead of time, the quantities and strengths of what you add are crucial. Have fun!

    It's all to do with the pH at which the color changes. So beets have a great color... but they don't change unless you take the pH *very* high (12-13, and they go yellow). So this would create something undrinkable. It turns out blueberry juice isn't that great either - the change in that case happens at too acidic a pH. Cabbage juice anthocyananins turn out to be just right.

    Have you tried blueberry instead of red cabbage? Should be essentially the same indicator, more pleasant taste from what else gets extracted.

    2 replies

    No, I haven't. Good idea though, as blueberries also contain anthocyanins. I was mostly looking for something that went with the salt. Any suggestions for a slightly salty, blueberry-flavoured cocktail welcome!

    Someone in one of the bars here in New Orleans is going to see this and steal your idea. That is if they haven't dreamed up their own version. That drink would be a hit here, especially during Mardis Gras.

    The article has a reference to a "smoking sport drink" for those who don't drink alcohol. It's in the text above describing this version.

    Good stuff - hard to make a drink made from cabbage juice appear sexy, but I think they managed it!

    I had heard liquid nitrogen also. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. The liquid nitrogen thing is some new fad going around. Hopefully it will end soon because it's causing a lot of harm.

    Not a great idea to use dry ice. A girl in the UK had a drink with dry ice and nearly died, she was lucky but had her stomach removed.

    2 replies

    That was liquid nitrogen according to the news, she took the down in one challenge. I guess if the dry ice were to be placed under a gauze which was fixed to the glass it would be a whole lot more reassuring.

    Yes, I would recommend those of a nervous disposition to stay well away from this drink, or to just make the drink change colour by adding a clear acidic drink (there are lots - Sprite works). I think it's fair to say in general that if you don't know anything about an ingredient, you should treat it with extreme caution (I think a guy recently died from eating live cockroaches in a competition). If you make a drink with boiling water and consume it before it cools, you will scald yourself extremely badly. So if we give someone a very hot drink, we warn them of that fact. Same principle applies here. Ingesting dry ice is dangerous, so wait for the cocktail to stop smoking before drinking it.

    Just a thought, If you dissolved baking soda into water and then froze it into small ice cubes, would you be able to create alkaline ice and scrape off the sodium?  Isnt there a way to desalinate water by freezing it? Even if you can't remove the sodium from the ice maybe a slow release of base from the ice cubes as they melt would allow the color change to last longer or even swing back to blue after the dry ice completely sublimates? I'm definately trying this out soon.  Great idea!

    1 reply

    Thanks. Lots of ideas here! Freezing a salty solution generates ice + an even saltier solution, until eventually you'll start crystallizing out the salt (in this case, sodium bicarbonate) and you'll have a mixture of salt crystals and ice when the whole thing solidifies. I'd encourage you to experiment, for sure, but work it out with water first - don't waste all the booze!