Growing up, one of my best friends was a counselor at a Boy Scout camp every summer. Being high school aged, he and his fellow counselors were looking for non-obvious ways to get their buzz on. Their solution was genius in its simplicity, scout's honor.
It's Friday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Be prepared! (to get drunk)
First off, yes, I know it's winter and I'm posting about popsicles, but y'know what? It was 60 degrees in NYC yesterday and everybody in San Francisco was wearing T-shirts. It's the longest Indian Summer ever, so get over it, these are delicious. Anyway...
One year, my friend Dylan (the Scout) and his cohorts had managed to talk someone in town into getting them a large bottle of vodka. They could have called it quits there, but discretion was required, plus it was a hot summer. What's better in summer time than a popsicle? Luckily, they had access to cases and cases of Otter Pops. Otter Pops (which are the west coast equivalent of Fla-Vor-Ice) are basically popsicles without the stick. They're just frozen sweetness in a plastic tube that you squeeze directly into your mouth. The cold sugary teat of summer.
So now they had the booze and the delivery mechanism, but how to get the booze in there? They headed over to the medical tent and grabbed an (unused) syringe. Bingo. The steps are very simple.
1. Start with an unfrozen popsicle—which is basically a packet of sugar water.
2. Use the syringe to make a hole a the top of the pop and pull out some of the fluid.
3. Use the syringe to inject vodka into the pop.
4. Cover the hole with a bit of duct tape, and shake vigorously (or you'll end up with a frozen end and a liquid end)
5. Toss into the freezer and leave it overnight.
Presto! Alcoholic popsicles, ready to eat. You just cut the top off and squeeze 'em right into your mouth. They are surprisingly delicious. Now let's talk ratios.
In order to get the pops to freeze in a standard freezer, you want to keep the alcohol percentage at right about 10-percent (or 20 proof). A solution that's 10-percent alcohol should freeze in a 25-degree F freezer. If you go up to 12-percent (24 proof) you'll need it to get down to 20 degrees F, which not all freezers are capable of achieving. So let's go with 10-percent. Most Otter Pops or Fla-Vor-Ices are 1 fluid ounce (or 1.5 ounces by weight), so you will need to suck out .375 fluid ounces of the sugary solution, and put in .375 fluid ounces of 80-proof vodka (it would be 0.2 fluid ounces if you're using 100-proof vodka). That should give the solution a concentration of 10-percent ABV (alcohol by volume). If you don't feel like measuring precisely, 1/3 of an ounce is equal to two teaspoons, and that should be close enough. That math look right to everyone?
There are a couple of enhancements one could do from the original. Syringes are cheap (about 75-cents each) and readily available behind the counter at most pharmacies, but there are a few of problems. 1) You feel like a junkie when you ask for them, 2) They're pretty small so you'd need to do multiple pulls, and 3) the measurements are in CCs (cubic centimeters), which isn't particularly helpful. That's why I went with a flavor injector I had lying around from Thanksgiving. Basically, it's just a big syringe used for injecting juices into turkey breasts, but it has measurements in fluid ounces and it's perfect for this. You can get 'em for less than 10 bucks.
The other thing I tried was using juice boxes instead of popsicles. Why? Because they're 8 fluid ounces instead of one, so they're the size of a real drink. That and you can get them with 100-percent juice, which tastes better. (Also, I am a dirty Berkeley-born hippie with a thing against progress, or, "artificial flavors.") For those, I pulled out 2 fluid ounces of juice, and added 2 fluid ounces of 80-proof liquor (that would be 1.6 fluid ounces if you're using 100-proof spirits). It results in an extremely potent and thick slush that's perfect for eating with a spoon. The "Razzleberry" and vodka was very good, but the apple juice and whiskey was fantastic! Irish whiskey pairs quite nicely with apple juice, for the record. You might think of this as a more grown up version of The Drunken Boy Scout. The Drunken Eagle Scout, if you will. They're not as much fun as the popsicle version, but you can pack 'em in a cooler and take em to the park and get housed. That's fun.
So, there you have it. It's easy to make and freeze a whole bunch of Drunken Boy Scouts all at once and then you've got a freezer full of them for your next house party. The popsicle will remind everyone of childhood, and the alcohol will help erase those painful, awkward memories. Win-win!
Tune in next Friday for another imbibeable Happy Hour.
Special thanks to Dylan for the recipe and inspiration.
Video by Michael Hessian.
Music Credit: "Autumn Mvt 3 Allegro" by John Harrison (with the Wichita State University Chamber Players)