Ice has recently become a priority in my life. Not exactly my life, but my husbands and therefore, my life.
Ice has always had ups and downs in popularity over the years. Remember back in the 90’s in the movie Basic Instinct when Sharon Stone used an ice pick to get chunks of ice for her drink? We, as a culture, are fascinated by ice in all its many forms. It can be shaved, cubed, crushed, chiseled, and more. Trendy bartenders jumped on board the ice bandwagon again in 2011 and the popularity has continued. Now, in my own kitchen, we are consumed with the “art of the ice ball.” The ice ball is a sphere of ice approximately 2.5″ round that is added to your bourbon/whiskey to enhance the flavor.
My husband’s interest was piqued when he went to Japan about 20 years ago. The Japanese liked to serve “clear” ice, which means it has little to no imperfections. Clear ice is without cloudiness and bubbles. To achieve this, ice has to be frozen at a slower rate so the imperfections and air are not trapped inside. (That is all the science for now.)
If you go to a trendy bar and have a mixologist make you a drink, chances are he/she has selected the ice to enhance the taste of your drink. If you are enjoying a glass of bourbon/whiskey then a large ice sphere will keep your drink at the optimum temperature longer and dilute the drink slower. The effect is a smoother drink. Some upscale restaurants and bars have “ice programs” that make their own ice with expensive machines, as expensive as a car. Other places just utilize an ice delivery service for the specialized ice. The specialized ice can be a shape, shaved or chunks that enhance a particular type of drink. However it is made, the ice “sculptures” in your drink appeal to the eye as well. A sphere floats in the glass and hugs the perimeter of the glass, swirling gently when sipped. It is an intriguing addition to any beverage.
All this brings me back to my kitchen and specifically, my freezer. Many of you may have frozen foods in there, but I have ice balls. My husband has purchased an ice ball maker (ok, don’t laugh), and his storage facility is our freezer. (When we got married I gave him a drawer in the house. I think he wants to renegotiate for the freezer.) He now has ice balls in his bourbon glass and he is happy as a lark. In the beginning, he could only make 2 at a time, but he invested in new equipment and upped his manufacturing. Current production rates are 4 at a time. With such low inventory, we have joked about who is “ice ball worthy.”
Ice and alcohol go hand in hand. The next time you order a drink, check out the ice. If you are adventurous, start making your own.