The importance of ice is frequently overlooked in cocktail making. It not only chills down the drink, but also adds necessary dilution to the final product. When used creatively, ice can serve as a flavor enhancer and garnish as well.
Kyle Harlan, bartender at Boogaloo, puts trays of water in a smoker for about three hours, then freezes them to make sheets of applewood-smoked ice, which he breaks up and uses to shake up his vodka-based Cuban Cooler. The drink is strained over fresh, non-flavored ice for a subtle flavor add. Cory Cuff, manager of Cielo, likes to freeze a variety of liquids, from celery, lime and cucumber juices to beef broth, to help cool down and flavor the savory offerings at his restaurant’s Bloody Mary bar. At Absolutli Goosed, bar manager Robin Schubert has found a unique way to brighten up her drinks, as well as reduce some waste. She pours leftover maraschino cherry juice into star-shaped ice trays to create colorful cool-downs for some of Goosed’s signature cocktails. She also freezes fresh mint leaves in long, cylindrical trays to make custom ice stir sticks for her mojitos.
Making your own creative ice is easy. Just find something you want to freeze—it can be anything from juices and fruits to veggies—and find a proper vessel that’ll stand up to the cold temps. Try using different containers around the kitchen, like muffin tins. There are plenty of websites that have interesting ice trays for purchase, including ikea.com and cocktailkingdom.com.