Thanks to for the image. 

Iceta La Vista, Baby


In our last article we discussed why it was important to chill your glassware to avoid prematurely melting your ice and unnecessary dilution of your drink. This week we’re looking at even more ways to ensure your drink stays as cool and undiluted as possible, without the obvious option of using a JetChill Machine (oops – sorry — that’s the only product plug, we promise)!

In case you missed the subtle pun in the title of this article we’re looking at how to make and carve Clear Ice, especially Ice Spheres. You might be thinking… so what is Clear Ice and why would I want to make it?

Clear Ice is a specific type of ice without any visible impurities or pockets of air. You sometimes see it occur in nature, in frozen lakes and streams but more commonly in the better bars of this world. It was really pioneered by the Japanese who saw ice as a real luxury commodity rather than something to be mass produced and churned out. They developed many of the techniques and tools now creeping into common usage in the West, such as Ice Picks, Ice Saws & Carving Blocks. The great news is that thanks to their efforts we now understand a lot more about how to make it, shape it and serve it.

The first myth to overcome about Clear Ice is that it’s easy to create using boiled or distilled water. As the people from showed in the image above, actually this can have little effect on the dissolved gases and impurities (that make the ice cloudy). Most of the youtube videos talking about this method are very cagey about showing the finished product, unsurprisingly. Actually there is a very simple method to produce clear ice, which is called directional freezing.

Directional freezing works by changing the way in which the ice is formed. In the Ice Ball pictures above using the various waters, you might notice that most of the impurities are formed in the centre. This is because as the ice freezes from the outside in, these gases and particles are trapped inside. With directional freezing, you encourage the ice to freeze along a defined path. This is by using an insulated container (a cool-box is ideal) so that the ice freezes from the top downwards, as opposed to from the outside inwards. You can then ‘chop’ off the bottom of the block to remove the trapped impurities, leaving you with a pristine block of ice. There is an excellent tutorial by Cocktail Chemistry on youtube here.

Hidetsugu Ueno,

You’re now free to carve your block of ice however you see fit using an array of specialist saws, hammers and knives. Popular shapes include diamonds, gem cuts and spheres. We love the bling of a giant diamond ice cube but we prefer a sphere because of it’s low surface-area-to-volume ratio. This means that per volume less ice is exposed to the liquid and so less melting will take place. It’ll keep the drink cooler for longer with less dilution.

We’d love to see some pics of your carving skills but don’t forget to be careful with any sharp tools! You can email us on our details here.

For those of you who don’t always have time to create clear ice shapes manually, there are now also bar machines that will do it for you. Check out the Icebirg Ice Ball Maker and Purus One Clear Ice Maker for more info.     

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