Ideas TED Fellows

Exclusive video: How to make a cocktail from strawberry DNA

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

DNA. It’s what encodes the genetic material of every living thing. And it also makes a yummy cocktail.

This video, which stars TED Fellow synthetic biologist Oliver Medvedik, shows you how to make a delicious adult beverage out of frozen strawberries, pineapple juice and Bacardi 151. Follow the adorably animated instructions, and you’ll be able to isolate the DNA of strawberries while making a shot. Throughout it all, Medvedik — who co-founded New York City’s community biolab GenSpace (see photos of their incredible office building) — shares the science of why he chose strawberries for this recipe and reveals exactly what each step does toward isolating DNA.

Some of you may be wondering: can you make a non-alcoholic version? Yes, says Medevik, but it would require using a substance like chloroform or phenol. Medevik explains, “It would have to be an organic solvent where the DNA is poorly soluble. Alcohols, such as isopropyl or ethanol, are good since they are fairly nontoxic, cheap and have the right chemical attributes.” Look, but don’t drink.

This video was shot by cinematographer Peter Olsen, directed and edited by TED’s own Kari Mullholland, sound designed by Arjun G Sheth and animated by Joy Buran, James Buran and Noelle Melody of Twins Are Weird. It was shot at GenSpace, where everyday citizens can learn about biotechnology.

Enjoy the video. And cheers! To tinkering with the stuff of life.