Fact or Fiction: Does alcohol freeze?

080210_shiverWelcome to Fact or Fiction, a new online column in which we dive into the truth behind some well-accepted foodie wives’ tales – and reveal whether they’re fact or fiction.

Alcohol does not freeze.

Fiction: Actually, alcohol does freeze; its freezing point is simply far below that of water. For instance, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, while ethanol (or pure grain alcohol such as Everclear) freezes at -173.2 degrees Fahrenheit. So why can you put a bottle of your favorite liquor in the freezer without it ever solidifying? That’s because most home freezers don’t reach temperatures anywhere near -173.2 degrees and, therefore, a bottle of vodka or rum is usually just chilled in these conditions – not frozen. Not all alcohol is the same, however, and the freezing point will depend on the proof of the alcohol – the lower the proof, the warmer the freezing point; the higher the proof, the colder the freezing point. This is why lower-proof alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine coolers and even some liquors such as Malibu rum will freeze in a freezer. Mixing alcohol with other liquids such as sodas and fruit juices also raises the freezing temperature of the drink and could result in part of the drink turning into slush.

Got ya in the mood for a frothy cocktail? Check out this month’s St. Louis Scene, in which Sauce writer Matt Berkley reveals the chilly details behind downtown’s new ice-inspired vodka bar, Shiver.