Food Riot, where I’ve caroused on the side for about a year now, is hanging up its apron. Actually, they did already: as of a couple days ago, they’re not publishing new content, and will be shutting down the site for good in 90 days. I had a downright b-l-a-s-t (that’s even better than a BLT) writing there, and it was a treat to be in such vibrant, smart company. There are too many personal favorites to share as far as highlights go, but in recent memory: Kit with this gem on people who don’t share food. (WHY?! We don’t understand you.) Susie taught me how to make latte foam with just a whisk and my
sweet, sweet nonexistent muscles (just noodles actually; I literally have ramen for arms). Bob called BS on the idea that guys don’t bake. S. Zainab made me hungry for breakfasts from every corner of the globe. Naomi said, No, you know what, internet? We’re not “eating it wrong.” And so, so many more.
While the site is still up, I wanted to get this piece (perhaps a few more) onto my site. Unlike much of my nonsense, I do think this is actually useful for at-home bartenders and other cocktail enthusiasts. So, don’t mind me–just giving my article a new home on the internet here.
P.S. Ice cream for your beguiling little faces tomorrow.
Depending on your level of cocktail-nerd-dom, you’ve heard it before: Great drinks deserve great ice. It’s not just another annoying thing to needlessly worry about (such as whether your glassware is hip enough); this is Kool-Aid you want to be drinking, friends. Check out these identical Old Fashioneds:
On the right, regular ice from a regular tray. On the left, chipped chunks of ice from a clear block. I taste-tested these drinks at various stages of their life cycle, so you don’t have to. (I do it out of love–thanks for asking.)
If you’re skeptical, I wish you could sample these two drinks side-by-side when the ice was finally all gone, because the difference was unmistakable. The drink on the right tasted like… A watered-down drink. You can actually see the detritus of whatever the hell got into your ice floating on top. Not cute.
The drink on the left still had a velvety mouthfeel. It tasted like a milder version of itself, but still pure and clean. There’s a world of difference between “drink with a little water in it” and “watered-down drink,” I promise.
You probably already know that. Maybe you’ve already figured out a clear-ice method that works for you, but this is how I do it.
To make clear ice, we need to understand what causes cloudiness in the first place–that would be air, minerals, and impurities. Inconvenient truth: they are a package deal with water. As water freezes, this weird-looking, weird-tasting stuff gets pushed to the middle of your ice cubes, because that is the last part to freeze. Science is so predictable.
There are various methods you can find online to getting around this problem; naturally, I tried the simplest one first. Supposedly, you can get rid of the undesirables by boiling the water a couple times before freezing it–and if it worked for you, TELL ME YOUR SECRETS, because it didn’t do squat around here.
So here’s whatcha do if you’re looking for results, like me. This method requires giving up at least half of your freezer space (precious ice cream real estate in my world), but it was worth it–this works exactly as it should.
First, you get yourself one of these.
It’ll be your best friend, and maybe you’ll even take it fishing sometime like the Igloo gods intended. WHO KNOWS.
Second, you fill it about halfway with filtered water. Leave it open, and stick it in your freezer. Because of the cooler’s insulated sides, the water freezes in one direction–from the top down. All the shady business that causes cloudiness will collect at the bottom–some people just scrape/chip this part off. I prefer to not bother and rely on timing to “catch” my ice before it solidifies into one solid block–the idea is, wait until 4-5 inches of water gets frozen about halfway, then remove your rectangular (2-3 inches thick is a good size) block of ice, and discard the excess water. This takes around 18 hours for me, but you’ll have to do some experimenting to find what works with your particular cooler/water temperature/freezer/phase of the moon and tilt of the planet wherever you are. Obviously.
Then, put it in a Ziploc gallon bag to use as needed, and restock on ice cream because damn, that was a long 18 hours.
The next tricky part is figuring out how to chip off pieces of this giant brick in somewhat regular sizes and shapes. Until someone starts mass-producing some sort of insert that fits an Igloo cooler perfectly and is essentially an ice cube tray without a bottom (hint, entrepreneurial types), I’ll have to figure that out. If I do, I’ll let you know–I may or may not still have my thumb.
Meanwhile, cheers to a good start to drinking better, everyone. Stay classy.