Updated: Feb 11
Have you ever seen those perfectly cubed, amazingly clear large ice cubes in a glass of bourbon? What about the sensational crystal ball in a cocktail? Ever wondered how they get that perfection? It is super simple to get the shapes you're after with the right tools, and luckily they are very affordable and widely available.
A quick browse online will turn up anything from your classy cubic or spherical ice molds to wild varieties to fit any party or occasion. All you need to look for is Novelty Ice Molds, check out this list here. You can even get themed ice molds from movies to holidays or major sports events. The great thing about any molds you may buy that are heat resistant silicone is that you aren't just limited to ice! Imagine eating chocolate Death-Stars!
Because I wanted to be able to duplicate those classy cocktails and bourbon pours you would see at a high end bar, I went to hunt the perfect set of ice molds. I settled on a set of silicone, BPA free Glacio brand ice molds. I love the material because it is flexible and makes it much easier to extract the ice cubes than the old school ice trays ever did. Glacio happens to make some of different sizes as well, the set listed here has a mold for large 2 inch ice cubes and a mold for smaller 1.5 inch ice balls.
To make that perfect cube is very simple. You just need to fill up the mold, close it and place it in the freezer until frozen. The ice ball molds can be trickier depending on which kind you get but the glacio set I happen to own has smaller holes on the top of the mold and I have found over time that just attempting to pour into it usually renders a mess when you pull them out. I eventually bought a small funnel to achieve my goal but still had occasional run-over which wasn't to bad. In a later stroke of genius I decided to get a large syringe at which point I could measure out exactly how much I was filling them with. For the most part, a funnel is fine but on occasion I would use these molds to make lollypopscicles in the summer. It was a great treat and as easy as putting a Popsicle stick or skewer in the mold with your favorite juice or lemonade, however they were sugar based and any spillage could make the mold sticky later.
So now for the trick to getting those crystal cubes! If you ever notice that when you make ice cubes they freeze with a white haze to them. This is due to the air bubbles and other impurities or minerals in the water, as well as the freezing time. Strangely enough as the cube freezes these bubbles and impurities head to the center of the cube. One of the older tricks in the book for this is to boil the water once or even twice to remove any excess air bubbles from the water. Since the amount of time cooling impacts the clarity as well you may have to adjust when you put it in the freezer after boiling the water until you find the sweet spot.
Once you have mastered making the shapes you want and getting them clear you can work towards producing fancy ice to wow your guests, family or friends. Other interesting ideas for this can include putting herbs, spices or fruit inside the ice to give a professional look to a cocktail and to release flavors during the melting.