Bloody Eyeball Halloween Punch
Halloween is coming up! While none of us really know what Halloween is going to look like at this point, it doesn’t mean we can’t start ... tentatively... planning, right?
Halloween has always been one of my favourite times of year.
It’s after the summer has come and gone, and the weather has gotten nicer. The crisp, cool air, crunchy leaves underfoot... bright colours, candy, costumes - what’s not to love?
Many years ago, I designed a bunch of Halloween Themed Shooters - a ton of fun, with varying degrees of difficulty or ingredient investment.
This year, I asked myself... why should adults have all the fun? I certainly loved Halloween themed treats - such as my Black Velvet Easy Halloween Bat Cupcakes - long before I was old enough to even be considering doing shooters, after all!
So, I decided to build a punch recipe around the idea of my Bloody Eyeball Shot from that post.
As canned lychees are a key ingredient - forming the bulk of each “bloody eyeball” - I wanted to play with that flavour a little, using it as a starting point.
So, the reserved syrup from the canned lychees is the first ingredient. From there, I decided to keep it pretty simple, and went with Ginger ale - or lemon lime soda - and pineapple juice.
The ginger ale and pineapple juice combination is a pretty traditional punch base for a reason - it’s always a crowd favourite, and generally non-offensive. The nice thing is that the tropical type flavour works really well with the lychee syrup.
When it comes to food colouring, I like to use a neon green gel food colouring, which you can find at any cake decorating store. The final Bloody Eyeball Halloween Punch won’t turn neon green unless you use a TON of it... but it will turn a pretty gross green colour.
And, you know... for once, “gross” is what we’re going for, here!
The piece de resistance in my presentation of this punch?
FOG. Check it out! (Volume on for extra cool factor, btw)
About That Fog...
While this punch is tasty and weird looking enough to serve as-is, it’s a lot more fun to add some dry ice. Totally optional, of course.. but fun!
This is what makes it “boil” - while chilling it, rather than heating it up. Very cool effect, and it’s easier to accomplish than you may think!
What Is Dry Ice?
Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide - and it’s REALLY REALLY COLD. - 109 F / - 79 C, to be more specific.
Fun fact: Dry ice doesn’t melt, it sublimates - rather than turning from a solid to a liquid when warmed/thawed, it goes from a frozen solid directly to a gas.
This makes it a lot of fun when it comes to special effects. Some fog effects can be dry ice, and that’s especially true when it comes to any kind of fogging effect around food service.
Dry ice is sometimes used for ... “garnish” seems like poor choice of word, maybe “decoration”? ... when it comes to higher end craft bartending, and sometimes in the presentation of more avant guard restaurant dishes & culinary performance art.
As carbon dioxide, dry ice is considered “food safe” in a sense - carbon dioxide is what’s used to carbonate soda, for instance. The reason I say “in a sense” is that solid carbon dioxide can be incredibly dangerous if handled improperly, which I’ll be getting into in a minute here.
If you respect the dry ice and handle it appropriately, however, it can DEFINITELY up your Halloween Punch game!
Obtaining Dry Ice For Your Halloween Punch
Dry ice is a lot easier to come by than you may think!
Some gas stations carry it, most cities have multiple distributors of it, etc. Welding companies can carry it, too.
Just do a quick google of “Dry ice, *your city name* and you’ll easily find the closest option for you.
It tends to be quite cheap, too. A reasonable sized brick should be under $10, and we paid $3.75/kg for the dry ice used in this post, which was in pellet form - very handy!
Dry Ice Safety
Handling dry ice safely is an important consideration, from procurement right through to storage, serving, and disposal.
The overarching theme in safely handling dry ice is going to be “don’t touch it, don’t breathe it”. You see, there are two main dangers when it comes to dry ice:
As dry ice is incredibly cold, you can burn yourself on it. You read that right.
Dry ice burns are incredibly painful, and can be life threatening - usually if we’re talking about the burn happening internally. You DO NOT want to ingest dry ice, period.
Remember that incident a while back, where a birthday party happening in a small enclosed pool area turned tragic when they dumped a LARGE amount of dry ice into the pool?
Yeah, we want to avoid a similar thing happening at your Halloween party.
Without going into a ton of detail, as the dry ice off-gasses into carbon dioxide, that CO2 can overwhelm your system, choke out the oxygen, and kill you.
This is why it’s important to not only handle it properly in terms of not touching it, but also to not have too much in too small of an enclosed area.
... but let me provide a bit more detail on safe handling of dry ice:
Before picking up dry ice, call ahead to ask if there’s anything you need to bring. Some places provide containers and scoop the ice for you, others are more self serve.
If you’re bringing your container, find a small cooler that closes securely and is “airtight”. You don’t want it spilling in your car, or in your house. Airtight is important, for reasons I’ll mention in a minute.
Ideally, transport it in your trunk, or as far away from the driver as possible.
If you are going to somewhere that’s a bit more self serve, bring HEAVY work gloves, and metal tongs. Make sure that no part of your skin is going to touch the ice.
Do not buy any more dry ice than you really think you’re going to need - and you’re not going to need much.
As an example, 1 soup ladle worth of dry ice kept this punch bubbling for at least 20 minutes - the time will depend on the pellet size. You’re not necessarily going to want to keep it bubbling all night, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Whenever you’re handling dry ice, you want to keep unprotected skin away from the ice itself, and out of the path of any mishaps.
Don’t have bare feet or bare legs, for instance, as a dry ice cube that gets away from you can easily land on your foot. (Yes, I almost had an accident when shooting this Bloody Eyeball Halloween Punch!)
Use long metal tongs, and heavy gloves if you have them. You can’t be too careful!
Don’t keep your cooler in a small enclosed space, or anywhere near small animals or children. “Airtight” containers do tend to off gas, and that’s a good thing... otherwise, they’d explode!
Additionally, you don’t want curious kids or pets getting into the cooler!
Other than that, just keep it in the cooler until you’re ready to use it.
Preparing to Add Dry Ice To The Punch
When planning your use of dry ice, take care to ensure that you’re using appropriate vessels to serve it, and to place in the punch.
Many glass vessels will shatter if exposed to sudden temperatures that cold, so don’t put the dry ice into an empty glass vessel. Putting dry ice - in reasonably small amounts - into a filled punch bowl is unlikely to damage the bowl, as the punch acts as a temperature buffer.
Plastic can be unpredictable, so I definitely recommend using metal tongs, a metal ladle, etc.
If you’re moving the dry ice between the storage unit (cooler) and the punch bowl, be sure to treat any intermediate vessel as though it’s dry ice itself.
With the way metal conducts heat, a small metal bowl that’s holding dry ice can be just as dangerous if touched directly, as the dry ice itself. Use gloves, an oven mitt, etc.
If you’re sure of the privacy - in terms of no wandering kids or animals - you can leave the cooler of extra dry ice outside, with the cooler open. That’s what we tend to do - and just let it evaporate naturally.
Outside is the best option in general, however you can manage to keep it out of reach. If you’re in an apartment, you can leave it out on your deck. Small pieces will evaporate faster than large blocks.
Whatever you do, don’t let it evaporate naturally in enclosed spaces, in living areas, or in reach of children or pets.
Serving Bloody Eyeball Halloween Punch
The number one thing to keep in mind when serving this Bloody Eyeball Halloween Punch is to WATCH THE DISPLAY.
Do not let kids, drunk people, or clutzy people within arm’s reach of the punch bowl!
While you never want to let kids put their hands in something that is being served to others - and that’s especially important these days! - it’s especially important that little hands go nowhere near that bowl.
Have an adult - who’s been brought up to speed on what’s going on with the punch - serving it.
Ideally, don’t serve it until the “boiling” has completely subsided. If you must serve it while it’s off gassing, scoop the punch off the surface - don’t dig deep - and be sure to not get any ice in the glass.
Again for the people in the back:
MAKE SURE YOU DON’T PUT ANY ICE IN THE GLASS.
As a note: Dry ice tends to sink at first - which is why it’s a good idea to not dig deep with the ladle - but once enough of the surrounding punch has turned to ice around it, it can behave more like normal ice, and float.
Personally, I recommend not using any ice in punch as a general rule (to avoid diluting the flavour!), but it’s especially important when you’re dealing with dry ice - you definitely don’t want to mistake a chunk of dry ice for a normal, safe ice cube! In this case, it can APPEAR safe, but it’s not.
Not only can dry ice “burn” your lips and mouth, it can cause massive damage to your esophagus and stomach.
Dry ice is great for show, but absolutely should be kept away from the body!
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Anyway, now that I’ve probably scared you off the idea of using dry ice altogether, let’s get to my Bloody Eyeball Halloween Punch recipe, eh?
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