Swamp Water Surprise Cocktail

Swamp water surprise cocktail recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Gelatin: 30 mins
Total: 33 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
167 Calories
0g Fat
6g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 167
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 18mg 88%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 80mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Things get a little creepy with this unique rum cocktail. The swamp water surprise is, admittedly, more gimmick than anything else, but that's what makes it ideal for Halloween parties.

The cocktail itself is a rather pleasant mix of rum, orange liqueur, and citrus juices. The optional "surprise" is a plasma-like substance made of vodka-spiked gelatin. It floats in the murky-colored liquid and can be any color or flavor you like—there really are no rules with this one.


For the Optional "Plasma":

  • 1 (3-ounce) box flavored gelatin

  • 1 cup water, boiling

  • 3/4 cup vodka

For the Cocktail:

Steps to Make It

Make the "Plasma"

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for plasma
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water.

    Dissolve gelatin
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Stir in the vodka and set the bowl in the freezer.

    Stir in vodka
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Just before the gelatin sets up completely, whip it with a whisk to form lumps.

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Let it set for at least 5 minutes.


  • It will not take long for the gelatin to set in the freezer (jello shots typically set up after 2 hours in the fridge). Check it after about 20 minutes, then about every 10 minutes after that, depending on how well it's set up.
  • If you want to add to the murkiness, use orange juice with a lot of pulp for the cocktail.

Make the Swamp Water Surprise

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for swamp water surprise
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the rum, curaçao, and lemon and orange juices.

    Mix in shaker
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Shake well.

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  5. If using, carefully spoon the plasma into the glass.

    Spoon plasma in glass
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Serve and enjoy!

    Swamp water surprise
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variations

  • You can change the color of this cocktail by your choice in curaçao. Pouring orange curaçao will result in an orange-colored drink. If you go with blue curaçao, it will end up an aqua color.
  • Choose the color of gelatin to complete the look of your cocktail. No matter the color, any fruity flavor will work out just fine, so have fun designing this drink to fit your party's style.
  • Switch to vodka in the cocktail or rum in the gelatin if you'd like to make this drink with a single liquor. Tequila would be a fun option, too.
  • Pineapple juice or a blend of fruit juices are good substitutes for the orange juice.

How Strong Is a Swamp Water Surprise?

The swamp water surprise is a pretty strong drink. Though it's just an estimate and will vary, if you choose to slurp up the gelatin along with the drink, the alcohol content may be as high as 26 percent ABV (52 proof). That's over half the strength of the average shot of rum.