Entertain Like A Baller
Updated: Jul 5
This is a test. How many circles can you count in the picture? Just kidding. The only one that matters in the spherical ice cube in the center of the rum punch. Ice, as many mixologists will tell you, matters in a cocktail. Back in the days when we could actually visit bars and cocktail lounges, the different ices one might find were a thing I most anticipated. I remember buying a spherical ice mold after a fabulous cocktail at Kuro, a nearby Asian fusion restaurant. It took quarantining, however, for me to actually dig it out and use it. At four dollars and change, the mold was a bargain. But like many bargains, there are caveats. You will note from the photo that the ice cube is cloudy. So while it looks fun and melts slower than normal ice cubes, it is not ideal.
Cloudy ice can be prone to shattering when you shake it. The unwanted shards can then water down your drink. The ideal cube for most cocktails is clear. Clear ice is the slowest to melt, hence the big beautiful cubes you will find at craft bars. These are perfect for sipping bourbons or scotch.
To achieve this at home, you can order at Clinebell machine for about $5900.00, or maybe subscribe to a boutique ice delivery service. Such services utilize tools such as Japanese hand-saws and greaseless chain saws to dismember blocks of ice. There are recipes for clear ice online, some of which involve freezing an entire mini Igloo in your freezer or a walk-in cooler. Because ice freezes from the top down, you would then break off shards of clear ice from the top part of the frozen mass. You can do this with a serrated knife or ice-pick. Just don't send me the emergency room bill afterward. There are also methods of making clear ice that call for you to double boil distilled water, then set your freezer at the lowest possible temperature. This will help the oxygen diffuse out of the water and result in a clearer cube. Which brings me to cracked ice. Cracked ice pairs perfectly with tiki cocktails, or ones that have heavy syrups. In these drinks the melting ice enhances the drink's flavor. Cracked ice can be easily made at home by placing ice cubes in a dish cloth and beating the crap out of it with a meat mallet. My son-in-law, Kenton, has been known to enjoy this method. Especially after a day of homeschooling Remy, his 6 year-old. Some craft bars offer hand chipped ice as part of their cocktail menu. Having the bartender chip the ice in your presence is part of the presentation. Though cocktail connoisseurs may be embracing the artisinal ice movement, Mother Jones magazine is not a fan. "Lay Off the Artisinal Ice, You Ignorant Hipsters," is the title of their article attacking the trend as wasteful. Much more energy is required to produce artisinal ice than standard ice, states the story, not to mention the gas involved when driving the ice around to bars and home consumers. Ouch. Disrespect aside, Mother Jones does give us something to think about.
Here's another thing. Craft ice is so popular that LG is making refrigerators that produce clear ice for home consumers. Be a Baller With Next Level Entertaining, headlines the ad for the LG Instaview Door-in-Door With Craft Ice. Not only does the LG Instaview make round. Cubed and crushed ice, but it "lets you look inside without ever opening the door - just knock twice on the unique glass panel." I wonder if this is an allusion to the Tony Orlando and Dawn lyric "Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me. " You might have to be a Boomer to know that one. The song is from 1970. In the eighties, I enjoyed my first ever tableside presentation. My husband, Marty, brought me to Al Steiners. It was a Long Island restaurant that specialized in Caesar Salad. For decades I recreated that salad at home. During the nineties, I froze flowers in ring molds to chill punch in a gorgeous, scalloped edged silver bowl. Yesterday I made an ice ball in my freezer. Today, I learned one of the coolest things ever. Sonic, the fast food drive thru, invested in Scotsmans ice machines about twenty years ago. For a mere two dollars, a bag of nugget ice can be yours. This crunchy, chewable pellet ice is perfect for your at home Tiki drinks. If you don't have a Sonic nearby, I've heard tell that Chick-fil-a will also sell you bags of their chewable ice. Between that and a four dollar sphere mold, you can up your cocktail game for less than six dollars. And while I no longer freeze flowers in ring molds, I do use frozen fruit to keep my sangria colder. Packaged frozen fruit works well, and it's a good use for fruit that's about to turn. Ice cubes made from wine are also fun. Just be sure to put the cubes in a zip top bag as soon as they are frozen. You don't want them to taste like leftover lasagna. Though you would normally want to pair crushed ice or chewable ice with a fruity rum drink, the one pictured has a spherical cube.
This is because it is a low-carb cocktail, and lacks the syrupy consistency of a sugar based drink. Therefore, I wanted the ice to melt as slowly as possible, as not to dilute the drink.
When making low carb cocktails, chill the ingredients beforehand for the best results.
Low Carb Rum Punch
1 ounce chilled Malibu coconut rum
4 ounces chilled sugar free fruit punch
Stir rum and punch together and pour into a chilled glass with ice. Garnish with a strawberry if desired.
Crystal Light fruit punch is the brand I used in this drink. It's what was available in my pantry. Ocean Spray makes some sugar-free fruit juices that work well also.