Black vodka is a fun novelty that's great for Halloween and other occasions with a dark theme. There are a few cocktails that specifically call for black vodka, and even more that can go dark by substituting the recipe's clear vodka for a black one.
Blavod is the only commercial black vodka available. It is not always around or the best option for a particular drink and that is where this simple little trick comes in. By using the same concept used to create a green beer for St. Patrick's Day, you can turn any vodka black as night.
Whether you cannot find Blavod, prefer to use your favorite vodka, or want to turn a cocktail black that uses a flavored vodka, the quickest solution is liquid food coloring. All you have to do is use the standard black formula to go from clear to black vodka without altering the flavor.
This method is, admittedly, not perfect. When poured into a glass on its own, the actual color of the vodka is not a solid black. Instead, it has a transparent, tinted black "water" look that may have a red, green, or blue hue along the edges. However, for its purposes—and as long as it takes for you to mix then consume the drink—it will work.
- 1 (750mL) bottle vodka
- 10 drops blue food coloring
- 10 drop red food coloring
- 8 drops green food coloring
Gather the ingredients.
Add the food coloring drop by drop to a bottle of vodka.
Seal the bottle and shake well.
Store as you would any other vodka until you're ready to mix a drink.
- You may have to shake the bottle again before pouring a drink because the food coloring will likely settle.
- If you're just playing with this idea, begin with a small amount of vodka in a glass (keep the 10:10:8 drops) and see if you like the effect. There's no point in wasting a full bottle if it won't work for your needs.
How Black Are the Cocktails?
If you are trying to bring a non-black drink into the darkness, do some experiments first to see if it will give you the look you're going for. Depending on the mixers in the drink and their proportions, this black vodka should, in the least, turn it a darker hue. It is not guaranteed to turn the entire drink black.
More DIY Black Vodka Options
There are a few other options that you might want to consider, though not all are as quick or cheap as the food coloring formula. None of these produce the perfect black vodka that is Blavod. It uses a black catechu bark infusion; the dried herb is difficult to come by and hardly worth the expense and effort. You do have some alternative options:
- Use black gel food coloring. It's sold at specialty baking shops and online and is commonly used to make black cake frosting. Begin with just a small amount, shake the vodka, and see how it works. It likely won't separate like the liquid coloring unless you add too much.
- Do a vodka infusion with black rice. Also called forbidden rice, it's expensive and can be found at specialty markets and online. Once you have the rice, simply infuse it into a bottle of vodka. Use about 1 cup of rice per bottle, shake it daily, and plan on at least three days for the infusion; you should be able to easily gauge the results. Strain the rice when it reaches the desired color and re-bottle the vodka. This method results in a vodka that has a nice, black color and the taste is unaffected. You also don't have to worry much about colors settling, though shaking the bottle before each pour is still a good idea.
Will Activated Charcoal Make Black Vodka?
Activated charcoal supplements have been suggested as a way to make black vodka. It's not as good as the rice or food coloring options because the charcoal settles significantly and the vodka will become grey. Contrary to rumors, activated charcoal doesn't lower blood alcohol levels, so don't think it will reduce your hangover chances, either.
Also, be aware that activated charcoal can negatively interact with some medications. Unlike other toxins, the charcoal doesn't bind to alcohol and the two together may cause gastrointestinal problems as well as serious health risks like a pulmonary aspiration. This black vodka hack is not worth the risks and, as a responsible drinker, it's best to go with safer options.
Using Black Vodka in Cocktails
You can play around with black vodka in nearly any vodka cocktail. Since you're only altering the appearance and not the taste, you shouldn't notice much of a difference.
The cocktail recipes that call for black vodka are often as much a novelty as the liquor itself. Try the black and gold, a martini-style drink with Goldschlager, or the black widow, a simple twist on the vodka-cranberry. For a party shot, you might want to try the black rose. If you don't like the sweet, pink liqueur known as Tequila Rose, try Irish cream instead.
Minocha A, Herold DA, Barth JT, Gideon DA, Spyker DA. Activated charcoal in oral ethanol absorption: lack of effect in humans. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1986;24(3):225-34.
Arnold TC, Willis BH, Xiao F, Conrad SA, Carden DL. Aspiration of activated charcoal elicits an increase in lung microvascular permeability. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1999;37(1):9-16.