Swamp Water Surprise Cocktail

Swamp water surprise cocktail recipe

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Gelatin: 30 mins
Total: 33 mins
Serving: 1 serving

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 "Plasma" (Optional)
  • 1 3-ounce package gelatin (any flavor)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup ​vodka
  • For the Cocktail
  • 2 ounces rum
  • 1/4 ounce ​curaçao (orange or blue)
  • 1 ounce ​orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons gelatin "plasma"

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this cocktail is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and assembly.

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.