Nice Ice!


As the weather heats up, it’s only natural to be thinking about ways of keeping cool. Maybe that’s why ice seems to be a very popular topic (because there’s no such thing as coincidence!).

I loved shaped ice cubes. They’re fun. I started with a set of flexible square cube molds just for something a little different and then, on my first trip to IKEA, found some great cube trays in the shape of wine bottles (though I’ve never actually used them yet). But the folks at Fred Flare are taking ice cube novelty to new heights! Amuse your guests, or just yourself, with frozen smiles, a fossiliced pair, ice invaders, or–my personal favorite–the gin & titonic ice cube trays.

Novelty aside, ice can be very serious business. Both the current Food Network Magazine and Imbibe have ice on the brain. The former has this to say about choosing the ice for cocktails:

No ice for: precisely mixed cocktails, like martinis and Manhattans.
Crushed ice for: concentrated drinks that need some watering down, like mint juleps or swizzles.
Small cubes for: light, refreshing drinks, like gin and tonics and mojitos.
Large cubes for: strong, boozy drinks, like Negronis and straight-up liquor.

–Food Network Magazine, June/July 2009, p.139

And speaking of the mint julep, Imbibe has a great article about Chirst McMillian of Bar UnCommon in New Orleans, Louisiana, and their website features a Q&A with the same about the classic Mint Julep.

Imbibe: What about the actual practicalities of your idea of the perfect Mint Julep? For instance: crushed ice or cracked ice?
CM: I hand-crush my ice. I have a Lewis bag and a large mallet. While I have access to a crushed-ice machine at work, if I had to leave the bar every time I needed to go get crushed ice, it would be a disruption to service, and if I kept crushed ice in the well, it would slush up and become wet. And the coldness and dryness of the ice at the inception of the drink is really one of the key elements of its success. Like people say with everything else, “fresh is better.” From the moment you crush it and take it out of its cold environment, ice is going to start to dilute and melt down. I don’t know if you’d call it cracked or crushed. I’d call it crushed. I pound the shit out of it with that mallet.