Craft Cocktails: How to Make Clear Ice

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eHow Food Blog

You know that scene from Frankenstein where you have the guy devilishly screaming “It’s alive!…It’s aliiiiiive!”? Well, if you ever wanted to feel that level of joy (and pain) in the comfort of your pajamas while you simultaneously battle a hangover, have I got something for you!

So last week I talked about the importance of quality ice in cocktails and left it with a “cliffhanger” ending. promising a no-nonsense how-to on making some gorgeous-looking ice at home.

Get acquainted with this little guy. You’re going to get real close and intimate with it in the next couple days and then you’ll wonder why you’d ever use it any other way again, like when you used to load it with way too many wine coolers.

All you need to make clear ice at home is the following:

  1. 7-quart igloo cooler
  2. Ice pick
  3. Bread knife or cleaver*
  4. A ton of boiled water**
  5. Working freezer
  6. Large tray
  7. Oh yeah, Endless perseverance***

*Say goodbye to using this with food ever again. It belongs to the ice now.
**You technically don’t need to do this to achieve the desired effect but I don’t know where you live and maybe you have some nasty water that has a bad rep around town, so lets just boil it and call it a day.
***If you ever read Moby Dick, the whale is a metaphor for clear ice. Fact.

So let’s begin:

1. Fill the cooler completely with water just below the edges, to account for the amount that will surely find its way to your shoes. DO NOT CLOSE THE COOLER. Gently slide it into your freezer where it will stay for about 24 hours. Forget about the ice for a bit and make yourself a delicious sandwich.

At around 24 hours, this thing should feel like a brick and you’ll see that for the most part, it’s clear (YAY!) but it does have a large cloudy section towards the bottom (WHAT?!).

2. Take it out and flip it upside down onto the tray and play the waiting game with it or do what I did and get a hair dryer to speed up the process.

 

It’ll pop out in due time and you’ll see about a 2-to-3-inch piece in the bottom that you’ll need to do away with but DON’T THROW IT OUT; you can use this for a stirred or shaken cocktail because you’re gonna need one.

3. The last step is to carefully pick and carve the cloudy section of ice from the large block, which I advise you cut into 2 pieces to make it a more manageable experience.

From here, you can carve it into whatever shapes you’d like, or perhaps even a small ice sculpture if you feel so inclined.

The knives come into play when you’re either trying to chop a piece of ice off, or when shaving (almost “sanding”) off the cloudy parts of ice, or when trying to create curves on any given piece.

Inspect the ice for remnants of cloudy areas, like the bottom side pictured above. When all is done, you’ll be left with a beautiful, strong block of ice to show off.

Pat yourself on the shoulder and make yourself a beautiful Old Fashioned. You’ve earned it.

Photo credit: Raul Zelaya

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