Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Icy Delights

You know, it's amazing the difference ice can make in a cocktail. I've been thinking about this subject a lot lately because it's been coming up in places like the New York Times. When we first moved to New York over two years ago, we needed to buy ice trays. My first attempt was a set of trays I got at the dollar store. They worked fine the first time, then they broke. It was one dollar I would never get back. I decided to invest in my icy future and buy a couple of silicone trays from Bed Bath and Beyond and they've been working out great for us. They give us ice that is cubic, strong and aesthetically pleasing. Occasionally I see novelty ice cube trays that will give you ice in the shape of a palm tree or a jolly roger or a pot leaf. I can't tell you how many times I have been enjoying a cocktail and thought to myself, "This would be so much better if I had little pot leaves floating in it."
When I used to bartend at Ruby Tuesday, there was a grape martini that we had to shake extra hard. The result of all that shaking was that tiny ice shards would end up in the drink. I suppose it's kind of novel and cool looking at first, but it melts pretty quickly and ultimately waters down your drink. Heather had a gimlet the other week when we were at a bar in PA that was made the same way--tiny ice shards. She was unhappy, and kept grumbling about how she had to get back to New York so she could have a decent cocktail. This is a girl from suburban Pennsylvania. New York has spoiled her. I am of the opinion that overshaking a cocktail--while a great way to release pent-up rage--is ultimately harmful to a cocktail.
I had a cocktail two nights ago at Dutch Kills that had Rye Whiskey, Bitters, Absinthe and an ice cube that allowed me to see straight to the bottom of the glass. I made reference to these ice cubes in my post about Benedictine, but I wanted to go into a little more detail. The cube was big enough to keep my drink cold but not water it down. The mass to surface area ratio was so high that the cube was still pretty big by the time I was done. I'd draw a diagram but I think you get the idea.
Heather had a drink that had a long ice cube in it about the size of a cigar. I got the image in my head of a guy in the back with a chainsaw carefully crafting each cube until it's ready to go out. I imagined this ice artist was peering out from behind a curtain to see if she was enjoying her drink and commenting on how great the ice was. She was. It was not just an ice cube but a conversation piece, it made us feel like her cocktail was so special, a new shape of ice had to be invented just for it.
I would like to experiment more with making custom ice for my home bar. If anybody reading this blog has any insight or suggestions on where to buy trays for kickass ice, leave it in the comments section.

1 comment:

Kokopelli's Kitchen said...

I'm not quite sure why but I really enjoyed your dissertation on ice!

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