How to Make Crystal-Clear Ice for Cocktails and Other Drinks

A fresh cocktail made with crushed ice, mint leaves and diver’s orange.

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We take our time and attention to detail when making cocktails at home for friends and family. Practice your mixing and shaking skills, find just the right garnish, and bring out the prettiest glassware, but you should also check the ice. If it’s cloudy or smells bad, even the best mixology efforts will fail.

Luckily, making crystal clear ice and learning how to use it properly when mixing and pouring drinks is not difficult. All books are due out in May!), we enlisted Camper English, educators and the national (and perhaps the world’s) leading authority on ice.

Drawing on his background in science, English has spent years researching, experimenting, and obsessing over ice (his Instagram account is full of stunning cocktail ice shapes). He also developed a now-famous ice-making technique called directional freezing, which used insulation to redirect the direction in which ice normally freezes, from the outside to the inside.

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why ice is cloudy

Cloudy ice is not your fault. It’s probably not the refrigerator’s fault either. Ice loses its transparency as it freezes. “Ice is cloudy primarily due to trapped air and impurities such as minerals and organics,” says English. “When water freezes, it tends to be transparent at first, because the crystal lattice that forms pushes air out of the freezing point and into the center of the cube.” This is why it tends to be cloudier in the center and clearer around the edges.

The good news: cloudy ice doesn’t look pretty, but it’s completely safe to consume.

refrigerator ice machine

Does your freezer churn ice for you? Cubes made with a built-in ice maker are cloudy (or not) based on how the machine freezes water. Some recent manufacturers have rebooted their appliances to combat fogging, but unless you’re after a high-end refrigerator, you’ll need to take a different approach.

How to make perfect, clear ice

After years of trial and error, English discovered a way to alter the freezing process, allowing him to create not only crystal clear ice, but beautiful shapes that enhance shine and clarity.

insulated ice container

To make clear ice, you need to use an insulated container (like this one) to control the direction in which the water freezes. In English, this is called directional freezing. “There are insulated ice cube and sphere trays you can buy that are optimized for making clear ice, or you can fill an insulated cooler with water and freeze the water from above,” he says. .

If you choose the plastic cooler method, the water will freeze clean up to the bottom third. However, you must use an ice pick to carve chunks or pieces.

sealed ice cube tray

There is no problem using cloudy ice in drinks, I never have I want stinky ice that absorbs freezer odors. Ice should always smell clean. One of his ways to avoid this potential disease is to store the cubes in an airtight container in the freezer rather than in an open tray or bin, says English.

water type

What kind of water do you use to make ice? If tap water is clean and clear, go for it. “If fresh-from-the-tap water tastes good, so does ice,” says English. “Both filtered and unfiltered water should be usable to make ice. Once you’ve made ice, keep it fresh.”

Ice Cube Size and Dilution

Once you’ve learned how to make clear ice, consider the size and shape of your cube (or sphere). Your drink should inform your decision. You also need to consider how quickly you dilute the ice. “For example, if you want to dilute a lot of soda on a hot day, you need a small cube that melts quickly,” says English. is suitable, it dilutes slowly.”

Plan your party ice cream in advance

When it comes to ice, advance planning is key.Make ice the morning of the gathering to ensure the ice is fresh When well before your guests arrive. “For regular cubes, he should be able to get at least two, if not three, batches a day,” English says. Allocate extra time if using his directional his freeze his technique. It will take a little longer. “If you’re making punches for a party, consider making large blocks with Bundt cake tins or plastic containers,” he says. “Of course, you can also buy ice bags at the market.”

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