When it comes to ice size really does matter. Size, density and ice clarity are the intangible part of any good cocktail recipe. The shape and size can impart the proper dilution and chill that make a cocktail better tasting than one made using the same recipe but inferior ice. Large cubes especially ice spheres brought about by the resurgence of classic cocktails are all the rage at the high-end cocktail bars. So the simple question is why not take your home cocktail experience to the next level.
Large cubes or ice spheres will melt slower than traditional ice. This is great news for cocktail enthusiasts who not only want to showcase the perfect marriage of flavors but also are keen to present their creation elegantly. If you are a Scotch drinker and enjoy your Scotch on the rocks the last thing you want to do is use small ice that will turn 20+ years of cask aging into a diluted icy slush.
So how can the home cocktail enthusiast duplicate the high-end cocktail establishments experience? So unless you can afford $8,000 ice maker that pumps refrigerated water throughout the freezing process creating gorgeous 300 pound slabs of crystal clear ice your options might be limited. Once you harvest your 300 pound block you can carve it and shape it for the desired use and application.
Another option is using an ice press which range in price from $400-$2000 which press square blocks of ice ranging in size of 1 inch to 2.75 inches into perfect spheres. These presses come with silicone trays that make the large square ice blocks that you will place in the press to be formed into beautiful spheres. Watching a skilled bar person shape a large block into a sphere and watching a press in action will definitely score huge style points. The only caveat on the silicone tray used with the press is that unlike the ice maker the raw ice you are starting with will never be crystal clear.
The reason why is physics, ice formed in a tray will always freeze from the outside in thereby trapping any impurities in the water and air in the center of the cube, that is why cubes always have cloudy centers with striations and cracking. Now there are some tricks that can be used to control the direction of freezing which will allow you to start with crystal clear ice but we will address that at another time. You’ll also hear people talking about double boiling or using distilled water to get clear ice, trust me don’t waste your time. Why? Because unless you can control the freezing direction it won’t matter physics is physics. But the purer the water the better tasting your final product will be.
If you’re on a budget then there are different ice molds that can be used to give your home bar some class and style. These molds are either made from plastic or silicone or a combination of the two. I think we all have experience with the plastic type tray and we all know how hard it can be to extract the ice. Silicone on the other hand stays malleable even once frozen so releasing the ice from the mold is much simpler. There are several brands out there that make’s large square cubes or spheres. Tovolo’s tray makes 2 inch cubes, Rox makes four 2 inch balls, and Whiskey Rounders silicone ice mold makes six 2 1/2 inch spheres at once.
Though the silicone molds don’t have the same panache as an ice Carver or press they do offer versatility and ease of use. Since they are constructed from silicone and are usually dishwasher safe you can make more than just ice in them. Many people will freeze juice, coffee, tea, wine, or create fruit garnishes that infuse their favorite drinks with flavor. There is no limit to what you can create with these great silicone molds. The only problem you will find is making enough of them to entertain your friends. So for what it would cost for a couple of rounds of drinks at your favorite watering hole you can bring a new level of sophistication and class to your home bar with these versatile yet inexpensive ice molds.