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 influence the proper dilution and chill that make a cocktail better tasting than one made using the equal 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 excatly why not take your home cocktail experience to the next level.
Ice is water frozen into a solid state. Depending on the presence of impurities such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less opaque bluish-white color.
In the Solar System, ice is abundant and occurs naturally from as close to the Sun as Mercury to as far away as the Oort cloud objects. Beyond the Solar System, it occurs as interstellar ice. It is abundant on Earth’s surface – particularly in the polar regions and above the snow line – and, as a common form of precipitation and deposition, plays a key role in Earth’s water cycle and climate. It falls as snowflakes and hail or occurs as frost, icicles or ice spikes and aggregates from snow as glaciers, ice sheets.
Ice molecules can exhibit eighteen or more different phases (packing geometries) that depend on temperature and pressure. When water is cooled rapidly (quenching), up to three different types of amorphous ice can form depending on the history of its pressure and temperature. When cooled slowly correlated proton tunneling occurs below −253.15 °C (20 K, −423.67 °F) giving rise to macroscopic quantum phenomena. Virtually all the ice on Earth’s surface and in its atmosphere is of a hexagonal crystalline structure denoted as ice Ih (spoken as “ice one h”) with minute traces of cubic ice denoted as ice Ic. The most common phase transition to ice Ih occurs when liquid water is cooled below 0 °C (273.15 K, 32 °F) at standard atmospheric pressure. It may also be deposited directly by water vapor, as happens in the formation of frost. The transition from ice to water is melting and from ice directly to water vapor is sublimation.
Ice is used in a variety of ways, including cooling, winter sports and ice sculpture.
Huge cubes or ice spheres will melt slower than traditional ice. This is great news for cocktail lovers 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 switch 20+ years of cask aging into a diluted icy slush.
So how can the home cocktail enthusiast duplicate the high-end cocktail establishments encounter? 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 could be limited. Once you harvest your 300-pound block you can carve it and form it for the desired use and application.
Another option is using an ice press that ranges 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 produce the large square ice blocks that you will place in the press to end up being formed into beautiful spheres. Watching a skilled bar person shape a huge block right 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 certainly that unlike the ice maker the raw ice you are starting with will under no circumstances 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 techniques that can be used to control the direction of very cold that will allow you to start with superior ice but we will address that at another time. You can also hear people talking about double boiling or using distilled drinking water to get very clear ice, trust me don’t waste your time. Why? Because unless you can control the freezing path it won’t matter physics is normally 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 utilized to give your house 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 knowledge 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 also once frozen so releasing the ice from the mold is much simpler. There are several brands out there that make huge square cubes or spheres. Tovolo’s tray makes 2-in . cubes, Rox makes four 2 inches 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 justice in them. Many people will freeze juice, coffee, tea, wine, or generate 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 more than 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 course to your home bar with these versatile yet inexpensive ice molds.
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