The secret ingredient to a truly ghoulish grazing table is dry ice. A chip or two of food-grade dry ice, available online or at many local grocery stores during the Halloween season, is exactly what you need to get your punches smoking and bubbling so much that your guests will start shouting, “It’s alive!”
Before you go out and get your dry ice, let’s take a minute to get up to speed on proper safety precautions. Dry ice is cold. Very cold. Because it’s so cold, it can cause major damage if it comes in direct contact with your skin—think frostbite-level danger. Be sure to use tongs when handling and moving dry ice. Also, remember that dry ice is used only for its visual and cooling effects, and the tablets themselves are not meant to be consumed (again, the whole frostbite thing). When you purchase dry ice, it will be pre-packaged in a special container; store it there until you’re ready to use it.
How to Use Dry Ice With a Punch Bowl
The easiest, safest way to get those plumes of dry ice going is to use two punch bowls. One for show, and a smaller one inside for the actual punch. Place the smaller bowl in the larger bowl.
Fill the larger one with a few inches of warm water, and the smaller one with punch. When you’re ready to get spooky, drop some dry ice in the warm water, and watch it billow. As the fogging effect wears off, simply refresh the bowl throughout the party with additional dry ice fragments.
Using Dry Ice in Beverages
If you are using food-grade dry ice, you can place the dry ice directly into your cocktail or punch. The dry ice will sink to the bottom of the glass and stay there, preventing the drinker from consuming it before it dissipates and the steam effect subsides. However, if you want to be on the safe side, remove the dry ice before consuming.
If you’re going to make your dry-ice beverages one drink at a time, you only need a very small piece of the substance to create the desired effect. If you purchase food-grade chips, you’ll only need two or three of them for each glass. Drop them in right after you’ve poured and garnished the drink, before you serve it to your guests.
Big Batch Drinks
If you want to avoid preparing concoctions one glass at a time, use a larger piece of dry ice in a punch bowl. Just drop a sizable chunk in right before the punch is served, and watch the bubbling and steam transform your living room into a lavish laboratory. And remember—although the dry ice will sink to the bottom of the bowl, it’s best to have a bartender ladle out each glass just to be certain that someone doesn’t accidently scoop the block up and plop it into a drink.
Recipes to Get You Started
Here's a couple of punch recipes just waiting to be spookified with dry ice: