Large Ice Cubes?
October 27, 2008 11:50 AM   Subscribe

My favorite bars use large blocks of ice in their cocktails - much bigger than what can be obtained with a standard freezer tray. How can I make these myself? Is there such a thing as an extra large ice cube tray?

I've also considered freezing water in a bread pan and then cutting it down to size somehow, but this would be rather laborious. A tray that allows for significantly larger cubes would be much better. Unfortunately, Google and Amazon searches haven't led me to such a product.
posted by aladfar to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You can always get a bunch of small plastic storage containers and freeze water in them. We've got a few very small Rubbermaid containers that would probably be the right size. Fill, freeze, extract, bag, repeat.
posted by mollweide at 11:57 AM on October 27, 2008

You could use a muffin tin if you didn't mind round 'cubes'.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:00 PM on October 27, 2008

You could get geeky and use these.
posted by greta simone at 12:05 PM on October 27, 2008

This perfect cube tray makes larger than usual cubes.
posted by scabrous at 12:06 PM on October 27, 2008

There are some potential solutions on this page:

* Silicone muffin pan, if you don't mind the shape.

* Old style aluminum trays with removable dividers. Take out dividers as needed for larger cubes

Also, you may be able to import/eBay a Taisin ice sphere mold, if price is no object.
posted by jedicus at 12:08 PM on October 27, 2008

I purchased a silicon ice cube tray from IKEA earlier this year which makes four 3" cubes. Looking at their website, I don't see the same tray listed although they picture several of the other designs that were in the same bin where I found mine. They might still have them in the store.

If you don't like cubes, there's big rectangles or big spheres.
posted by jamaro at 12:09 PM on October 27, 2008

Why not just ask them?
posted by jmnugent at 12:15 PM on October 27, 2008

Why not just ask them?

Most bars use professional ice machines which are prohibitively expensive/overkill for a regular person.
posted by scabrous at 12:17 PM on October 27, 2008

Yeah, you wouldn't want a bar-style ice machine in your home. They're huge, loud and wicked expensive.
posted by the latin mouse at 12:49 PM on October 27, 2008

I use an old Revere Ware stainless steel storage box with a lid (to avoid any trace of refer odor) and then cut up the ice with a hatchet (it cuts surprisingly easily and cleanly).

I recommend boiling the water first (in glass, ideally) to drive out chlorination and dissolved gases to achieve perfectly clear and odor free ice that will also melt more slowly because it has less surface area.
posted by jamjam at 1:02 PM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

35mm film cans lined with plastic wrap perhaps?
posted by timsteil at 1:32 PM on October 27, 2008

It won't make bigger ice cubes, but this looks like a pretty cool ice 'orb' maker.
posted by TDIpod at 1:57 PM on October 27, 2008

You can buy them from the grocery store. I know because I bought a bag accidentally.
Look to see if your store has a freezer in the alcoholic beverage department. They cost maybe 3x the amount of a regular bag of ice but they are large, gorgeous, perfect, separate blocks.

... I guess this isn't technically making them yourself... but you can make money to buy them. har har.
posted by simplethings at 2:03 PM on October 27, 2008

There is the Tovolo perfect cube tray. Looks like the ice cubes are about 1.5 inches.
posted by O9scar at 3:14 PM on October 27, 2008

And now I realize scabrous beat me to it...
posted by O9scar at 3:15 PM on October 27, 2008

Hooray ice snobs! The search for perfect ice is a long, painful, and often expensive one. Even high end cocktail bars have a hard time shelling out for machines that great large blocks of perfectly cubed ice with no imperfections (perfectly clear). It's kind of like the holy grail for cocktailians.

If I understand you correctly, you're looking for 1"-2" cubes of ice, with little to no impurities trapped in the ice, if possible. The impurities come from minerals and tiny bits of air trapped in the water. You can use distilled water to get rid of some of the minerals. But for the air, that's much harder to get rid off. First off, your home freezer is not optimized for this type of freezing job. The big, expensive machines that are available for thousands of dollars are optimized for freezing ice by trying to remove air as the water freezes. They also take up a lot of space, and are noisy, as previously mentioned.

For cocktail purposes, a large block will be just as good as cooling your drink, whether or not it's perfectly clear. An easier way to get around the issue is to freeze giant blocks of ice and chisel it into irregular, large shapes. Some bartenders actually prefer this style of ice. (Another thing to think about is using long spears of ice for anything served in a Collins glass.)

As a home user, here are the less expensive options for a nice, big hunk of ice:
* Japanese-made spherical molds. (jamaro linked to these). Not the machine linked above, which shaves down a large hunk into a sphere. These are molds with a top and a bottom. Available at the MoMA Store. The ice cubes tend to be weak at the seams. The cubes are really two hemispheres of ice that need a little extra care to fuse together. Some trays have a flawed design that requires a clamp or rubber band for the ice to come out without splitting into two.
* Silicone molds. Easier to get the ice cubes out but some bartenders think that the silicone leaks unwanted flavors into the ice. Also, most trays don't go bigger than 1.5" cubed and I believe the blue IKEA ones are not perfectly square, which annoys me.
* Plastic bead/hardware organizers. Get some distilled water. Boil it. Let it cool. Boil it again. This gets most but not all the impurities out. Pour the hot water in the plastic hardware organizer, taking care that all the dividers are well placed. Place in the freezer. To remove ice, leave the tray out at room temperature for a few minutes, to sweat the ice cubes out. Remove cubes, and store in air-tight containers and hope that the other stuff in your freeze doesn't smell (too much). Some "cubes" may be rectangular or too large for your glasses. due to the nature of the plastic organizer. You can easily fix this by running a cube under hot water for 10-15 seconds. A few famous cocktail bars in NYC actually do it this way.
* Find somewhere with a Kold-Draft machine willing to sell you some big ice.

If you're really anal about the impurities you can also make the ice in layers in the plastic organizer, and agitate the cubes often to release any trapped air. But the rest of your freezer will not thank you, and, hey, that's annoying. There's also the possibility of double freezing the ice, and other similar experiments, which I've never tried.

Like I mentioned earlier, if you just care about keeping your drink cold and not diluting your cocktail, an almost clear cube of ice is good enough. Plus, those bead organizers are cheap and easy to find. Here, now go look at some ice porn and get some ideas.
posted by kathryn at 7:04 PM on October 27, 2008 [3 favorites]

Tobey Maloney, mixologist at The Violet Hour in Chicago, has posted some suggestions for cocktail ice at home on a discussion forum. It looks like he recommends either large cube trays mentioned above, or filling large Ziploc bags with water, freezing them, and then cracking the ice, since that will get you different size bits for different purposes.
posted by dnash at 7:54 AM on October 28, 2008

While I'm still searching for the perfect shape and ice production method, I've just had some success with acrylic spice containers. They make 3/4 inch thick discs of ice that fit perfectly in a rocks glass.

Thanks much for all the suggestions and advice - it seems that experimentation is the only way to go.
posted by aladfar at 10:49 AM on October 30, 2008

« Older Help me get my first passport.   |   Tao, thinking, and problem solving Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.