If you’ve been following along with our Guide To Making Better Cocktails At Home, you’ve already made perfect Negronis, Palomas, and Daiquiris. But have you made perfect ice? The answer is probably no - and we’re going to change that right now.
You might be thinking, “I already have ice, and it’s in my freezer.” No offense, but that’s cloudy garbage ice. Why? The answer to this question is also the reason why fish exist: dissolved air. Fish use it to breathe, and your freezer uses it to make sh*tty ice. Quality ice is clear enough to read through, it melts slower than whatever you get out of an ice cube tray, and it’ll make any cocktail feel like a fully-loaded luxury sedan. Today, you’re going to learn how to make it.
Rule Number 1 of good ice: the longer it takes to freeze, the better it’s going to be. That’s why you need to A) insulate your ice, and B) freeze it in a big block. Grab a cooler (like the kind you’d bring on a picnic), or the largest rectangular Tupperware container you can find, and consider doubling up if you have two, or wrapping a dish towel around the outside. Fill the container with water, then be sure to leave the lid off. You want to freeze this ice directionally - meaning the top will freeze first, pushing all the dissolved air to the bottom of your ice block - which you’re eventually going to discard.
Depending on the size of your block, it could take several days for your ice to freeze. Just read a book, or paint your kitchen. Then, once frozen, the block should slide right out of your cooler - and here’s where things get fun. You’re going to need a big serrated knife as well as a hammer or a mallet, and you should also set your block on a dish towel, so it doesn’t fly off your counter and crush your cat Looney Tunes-style.
Once you’re set up, take that serrated knife and score your block along the lines that you want to cut, then stick your knife in one of those grooves, and gently tap it with your mallet. After few taps, a smaller block will cleanly break from the big one. Do this until you’ve broken down the whole block into cubes, discard the cloudy cubes from the bottom, then put your clear ice in a ziplock bag, and stick that in your freezer.
But wait, there’s more. If you consider yourself an overachiever and identify with people like the kids from Booksmart or Tracy Flick from Election, boil your water before you freeze it. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, I’ve had minimal human interaction for the past few months, but that has nothing to do with this recommendation. You see, the solubility of dissolved air in water decreases as the temperature increases. So if you boil your water, that dissolved air is going to dissipate - and you’ll get slightly clearer ice. Do I do this? No, but I’m lazy, and you’re better than I am.
Congratulations, you now have perfect ice. But what do you do with it? Make a Negroni an Old Fashioned, or a Penicillin, then use one big cube instead of a bunch of small ones that will melt in about two minutes. Your drink will stay cold longer, it won’t dilute as quickly, and you’ll have a gemstone-quality chunk of ice that will make your friends want to start rumors about you in order to tear you down. But they could never do that. Because you know how to make incredible ice now, and they don’t even know that such a thing exists.