How to Make Boozy Popsicles, According to Science

Animation of liquor and mixers being measured into popsicle molds at 5:1 ratio
Animation by Eric DeFreitas

If you try to freeze a cocktail to make boozy popsicles at home, you’re as likely to end up with a slushy mess than something that stays solid enough to eat. This is because ethanol (the type of alcohol we drink) has a much lower freezing temperature than water.

Water freezes at 32°F, while pure ethanol freezes around -173°F. The freezing point of most consumable liquor falls somewhere between this range, depending on its proof. That’s why you can safely keep 90-proof vodka in your freezer, but a bottle of rosé with 11% abv (alcohol by volume) will shatter if stored below 15°F.

Most home freezers are set for 0°F. This means, if you want your alcoholic beverage to freeze, you need to bring its alcohol-by-volume (abv) down to that sweet spot where the water in the bottle freezes and solidifies the alcohol along with it, rather than the two separating and turning into a slushie.

So how do you freeze liquor? Use cocktails in a 5:1 ratio

As a rule of thumb, you’ll have the best luck making boozy popsicles by aiming for a 5–10% final abv in your cocktail mix. This guide assumes your liquor falls in the 80–90 proof range (40–45% abv), which means you’ll want a 1:5 ratio of liquor to nonalcoholic mix.

This translates to 1 ounce of liquor to 5 ounces of juice in, say, a single 6-ounce vodka-cranberry pop. You can multiply this by the number of popsicle molds you want to fill, and their size.

Other factors like the sugar found in juices, syrups and liqueurs, or the citric acid in lemon and lime juice, can also lower a mixture’s freezing point. However, the difference is not nearly as drastic as the effect of alcohol.

Below, we’ve created recipes at the approximate sugar-to-spirit ratio of a well-balanced cocktail of the sour family that will also freeze.

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Boozy popsicle recipes to try

Each of these recipes is measured in “parts” so you can make them in batches, and multiply based on the amount you want and the size of your popsicle molds. But feel free to treat each measurement as a fluid ounce, and multiply accordingly. Just mix all ingredients thoroughly, fill your molds and place in the freezer.

Elderflower Tall Popsicle

1 part cucumber vodka

1 part elderflower syrup

1 part lemon juice

4 parts apple juice

Margarita Popsicle

1 part Tequila

1 part lime juice

1 part orange juice, no pulp

1 part simple syrup

2 parts water

Rosé Pops

6 parts dry rosé

1 part lime juice

1 part simple syrup

Sauvignon Blanc Bellini Pops

5 parts Sauvignon Blanc

2 parts peach purée

1 part lime juice

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Final note

Popsicles with more alcohol may still freeze, but they’re more likely to turn into a melted mess before you finish enjoying them since the temperature at which they convert back to a liquid is lower. For example, a frozen cocktail at 20% abv will turn back to a liquid when the temperature increases only 9 degrees, while a 5% cocktail will generally hold its shape until the temperature increases by 26 degrees, giving you much more time to eat it.

So, feel free to try upping the alcohol ratio for a boozier pop, but at the peril of whatever you’re wearing.

Published on May 29, 2020
Topics: Bartending Basics