Is it safe to put dry ice in a cocktail?

Judges have to try a lot of food and drink when working on reality baking and cooking competitions, but one thing they don’t usually have to contend with is…well, possible death. One contestant in the new series Drink Masters throws the judges for a loop when they learn he used dry ice in his cocktail.

The contestant, Alex Velez, is a Las Vegas mixologist who confidently serves up his “Three-Way Margo” with a fancy technique known as “anchoring the dry ice” to ensure the pellets don’t float to the surface. Is that a bad thing?

As Judge Frankie Solarik says, if he were to consume one of those pellets, it could stick to his esophagus, produce carbon dioxide, and cause him to choke to death. Yikes.

To Alex’s credit, dry ice is regularly used in cocktails, but Solarik is also 100% correct in saying it is not safe to swallow the pellets. You need a competent mixologist to utilize dry ice safely. Alex might be an expert, and the cocktails might have been perfectly safe, but the judges don’t know him, so I didn’t blame them for declining to sample his drink.

Luckily for Alex, he got a chance at redemption in the second challenge and progressed to the next episode.

DRINK MASTERS. (L to R) Frankie Solarik, Julie Reiner, and Tone Bell in DRINK MASTERS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

What is dry ice?

For those unfamiliar, dry ice is just the solid form of carbon dioxide. One of the reasons people like using it is because when it breaks down, it just becomes carbon dioxide gas rather than a liquid.

Drink Masters: Is putting dry ice in cocktails dangerous?

Yes, it can be. Most bartenders avoid using it on the off-chance that someone accidentally swallows it. You might not instantly drop dead if you ingest a small dry ice pellet, but it can cause serious injury.

However, it doesn’t mean dry ice is never used in cocktails. There are plenty of people who do like to employ it as a visual aid since it creates smoke and will give you a very chilled cocktail. The other nice thing about dry ice is that it will chill your drink without watering it down like regular ice does when it melts.

But the whole point is to use it as a freezing or visual aid, not to consume it. Dry ice should never be touched with bare skin; you definitely do not want to drink it by mistake. Most people can easily avoid it since it sinks to the bottom of the glass, but if you don’t trust the maker or feel too nervous to try it, it’s understandable why some would rather avoid it altogether.

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