I'm a bit exacting when it comes to the ice in my cocktails. I like one large, perfectly clear piece of ice. If it's a big orb, all the better. I've had some success making ice spheres at home with these moulds, but they're always a bit cloudy in the middle, even when I use boiling water.
Photo by Edsel Little.
I was about to give up -- how much value was clear ice really adding to my cocktail anyway? -- but a quick chat with Ice Chef Hope Clarke convinced me otherwise:
Aesthetic is huge, but it's almost more about preservation -- crystal clear ice is physically filtered, so you don't alter the taste of the cocktail or spirit as it melts, and since it's more dense, you preserve the temperature of the cocktail (if it's a stirred one and poured over it) more efficiently. You chill straight liquor faster, and hold that temperature longer.
To solve my clear ice woes, Clarke pointed me to Camper English, a man who has spent many hours experimenting with ice so you don't have to. On English's blog, Alcademics, he shows us how to make perfectly clear spheres at home using only an ice mould and an insulated cup.
Camper explains the process and theory in more detail, but it's pretty simple: fill an insulated tumbler or mug with water and place your water-filled mould on top, with its hole pointing down into the water below. Pop the whole thing in the freezer, and because of water's wacky crystal structure, the system will freeze from the top down, pushing gases and impurities out of the mould and into the cup below. Check out the link for step-by-step instructions.
Make Perfectly Clear Ice Balls Using Insulated Mugs [Alcademics]