I had to confess that it I used plastic ice. It looked good and it didn't melt, which meant I had more time to take photos. But ... busted. I don't usually use fake stuff in food photos.
Not even garnishes.
Clear ice is apparently the holy grail for home cocktail makers. I read instructions that suggested using recently-boiled water, hot water, or distilled water. Other people said that none of those worked 100 percent of the time.
I tried a few different methods to get clear ice, but no matter what, I always got whitish ice cubes. Always.
So when the folks at Polar Ice Tray sent me a contraption for making clear ice - and not just clear ice, but large clear ice BALLS, I was all over it.
Could this be the gadget that works?
There are several parts to the ice molds - an insulated bottom piece (the blue thing on the bottom), a plastic holder for excess ice, and a two-piece silicone mold that makes the actual round balls. The top piece has designs that get embossed into the top of the ice balls - my set had a seal and a penguin. They also sell a set that has a polar bear and a walrus.
|Photo courtesy of Polar Ice Tray|
It takes quite a while for the ice to freeze, but then you have large ice balls that take a while to melt in your drink. If you want a dozen of them for a party, you might want several molds, or just start early and unmold and store them in the freezer in a plastic bag.
So ... drumroll, please ... they actually made totally clear ice. Not a single bit of white frosty stuff inside the balls. None.
By the way, clear ice was a little bit difficult for me to photograph. Because it's clear. It's nice for photographing drinks, though.
Here, the color of the cocktail reflected in the ice. That ice ball is totally clear, but it's picking up the color of the drink. In drinks that are less opaque, the ice doesn't detract from the clarity the way white ice does.
When the ice first comes out of the mold, you marvel at the clarity, then it gets a tiny white layer of frost. But that disappears as soon as you put the ice in a glass and pour some liquid over it. Or if you just let it sit for a short time so the frost melts.
Another interesting thing about this totally clear ice was that it didn't seem to crack as readily as normal ice cubes. If I poured warm or hot water on it, it sometimes cracked. But beverage temperature or cold liquids didn't seem to crack it. I haven't made millions of ice balls, but I've made quite a few cocktails using this ice - enough to note the lack of cracking.
That lack of cracking is very cool. Broken ice balls would not be cool at all.
For the fun of it, I tried embedding fruit inside the ice to see what that would look like. It was interesting, but not what I hoped for. My fruit - I used raspberries and blueberries - exuded color into the ice. So I ended up with a pink "cloud" surrounded by clear ice.
It still made an interesting presentation in a clear drink, but it wasn't as totally cool as having clear ice with something floating inside.
I think I might get better results by embedding something that isn't so ... wet, so it won't exude color into the freezing water. I'm going to try flowers, sprigs of herbs, mint leaves, or perhaps citrus zest and see what happens. I'm sure you'll see them in cocktails over on Cookistry.
Overall, I'm giddy happy with these. The ice balls are large so they melt really slowly, so a lingering drinker (like me) can enjoy a cocktail for a long time without it getting diluted. And they really truly produce totally clear ice cubes which is going to be great for photos for the blog.
Who's it for: People who covet clear cocktail ice.
Pros: Simple to fill. It's not a fussy thing.
Cons: Takes a while for the ice to freeze, so you do need to plan ahead.
Wishes: Can't think of anything ... they work as-is.
Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.