I realize I am a grown-ass man, but I will happily admit that drinks color-changing drinks are really fun. (We’re all friends here.) Though it may seem like a bartending trick reserved for the likes of Disney World, there’s not that much involved in making these eye-catching cocktails. All it takes are a few secret ingredients to make any beverage pop, boozy or otherwise, and they’re easy to procure online if you’re looking to have a little fun with your drinks. Here are two of my favorites.
Butterfly pea flower
Butterfly pea flower is native to South and Southeast Asia. It’s known as Clitoria ternatea (yes, the name is derived from the word “clitoris,” since the flowers are thought to resemble what you think it does). It has a stunning deep blue color and is used to dye items like rice dishes in the regions where they’re grown. If you steep butterfly pea flower in a liquid, the gorgeous blue color will seep out, resulting in a sapphire beverage.
The flower itself has a very delicate flavor; you can’t taste the “blue,” so to speak. But you can turn it into a tea, make sweet beverages with it, and play around with it as you like.
But a striking color isn’t all it’s capable of. When butterfly-pea-dyed liquid comes into contact with an acid such as lemon juice, the brilliant blue morphs into a vivid shade of purple right in front of your eyes. I can personally attest to how fun it is to watch this process unfold; squeeze some lemon into a beverage made with butterfly pea flower, and the drink will transform as the acid makes its way down through the drink. If you stir it, your drink will become uniformly purple. It’s enough to make you feel like a wizard.
If you’ve got kids, they’ll have a field day with it too. Color-changing lemonade? Who wouldn’t love this? Butterfly pea flower is easy to order on Amazon, so if you want to play with it, it’s worth the money for the edible entertainment.
Pearl powder, aka ground-up pearls, has a lot of uses. You’ve likely encountered it in cosmetics, but did you know it’s edible? You can use it to add some luster to the surface of cakes, but added to a beverage, it produces a shimmering effect that you’ll find yourself staring at for a long time.
Pearl powder isn’t in a lot of consumer beverages; there was a bottled liqueur called Viniq that used it to create an iridescent shimmer, but it’s long since been discontinued. You don’t have to source ancient Viniq bottles on eBay, however; instead, just purchase some pearl powder on your own (make sure it’s clearly marked as the edible kind) and experiment with drinks as you like. It’s flavorless, so you won’t need to worry about it messing with the taste of your beverages.
Pearl powder shines (literally) in translucent drinks, so mixing it with any sort of tinted liquid is ideal—and of course, use a clear glass so you can see all the effects. Things like juices, or cocktails containing colored liqueurs (blue curacao, green creme de menthe, etc.) work perfectly with pearl powder. The shimmer will take on the color of the liquid and you’ll probably be staring at it for way longer than you’d guess. The effect of pearl powder is long-lasting; it doesn’t dissolve, so if the powder settles after a while, a quick stir or shake of a bottle will make your drink entertaining to look at again. Start with 3/4 of a teaspoon for 12 oz. of liquid and add more if desired. I guarantee you, your next party is going to be awesome.