How to grow your own craft ice!

How to grow your own craft ice!

How to grow your own craft ice!

Below are a few of my tips on how to get the best ice at home, without any fancy products.

Ice is an important component of any great cocktail and one that is often overlooked.

Ice is an important component of any great cocktail and one that is often overlooked. 

How can a cube of cold water be so dang important you ask?
Can't I just bung in those cubes I've had in that tiny ice cube mold in the freezer for a few months?

STOP where you are. 
Step away from the sh*tty ice before you ruin an excellent cocktail.

Ice really does matter to your cocktail and here are the simple reasons why. 

    1. Counterintuitive to most people's thinking, using less ice makes your drink dilute (aka watered down mess) faster and stays warmer. So when you toss in just three of those tiny cloudy ice cubes, it ain't gonna taste right. There simply isn't enough cold mass to chill your drink down, which means it stays warm melting the drink faster. Gross.
    2. Ice picks up flavours. So if you have had those cubes in there longer than a week, chances are they have picked up some off flavours. Throw them in your drink and be rewarded with the taste of stale onion! 
    3. Freezer burnt ice. Just don't. Something that looks like its been scrapped off the back of your freezer? You don't want to drink that.
    4. Aesthetics. It sounds a bit superficial, but part of drinking cocktails is making them look good and teeny tiny cloudy ice cubes look, well, rather sad.

But fear not! Follow the tips below to make top notch ice at home. 

    1. Invest in some ice freezing receptacles and don't use those teeny tiny ice cube trays. You don't have to buy the fancy silicone moulds, small plastic food tubs work great and come in a variety of size. I also enjoy them because you can pop on the lid and not worry about water sloshing about. One thing to check- make sure whichever size container you use to make your ice, the shape fits into your glassware. There's nothing more annoying than a cube that won't fit. I've got some of my favourite options below. 
    2. BUT if your cube won't fit, don't be afraid to give it a bash. My favourite trick (and one that doesn't involve knives) is to get your kitchen tap water as hot as possible. Grab your ice cube straight from the freezer and stick it under the hot tap for a few seconds. It should have a satisfying crack, and then a light tap will break it up for you. Alternatively, put your cube in a tea towel and give it a couple whacks with a heavy object like a wooden spoon for some chunky semi-crushed ice, perfect for drinks like Ruby Buckthorn.
    3. Use more ice than you think is necessary. Seriously. We promise it won't dilute the drink, it's only going to make it colder longer. This is especially true if you are using tiny ice or party ice from the supermarket. 
    4. Have backup ice. Most grocery stores sell 'premium' and 'jumbo' cubes now, this is much better than party ice because it doesn't melt as quick. One or two cubes of the jumbo ice is perfect for just about any drink.
    5. If you like your Whisky Espresso Martini on ice, freeze some leftover coffee! That way when the cubes do start to melt, they are adding in coffee rather than water.

What about clear ice? Isn't that the best?

In a short answer, yes. It is the best. 


When you make ice at home, you know all the white bit in the middle? That's trapped air and gases. It means your ice is less dense, and will melt faster. Not ideal for keeping your drinks cold but undiluted.  

Clear ice is rather tricky to make at home. All the quick tips like boil your water, use bottled water, and cover it to keep our impurities. None of that works. The problem with home freezers is that they freeze from all directions and from the outside in, trapping air in the middle. The thing that creates clear ice is allowing it to only freeze from one direction thus forcing out the air, rather than freezing it from all sides trapping the air in the middle. There are a couple clever gadgets you can buy to make clear ice at home now, and those are really the only option if you want to have the crème de la crème of ice. A super smart dude, Camper English, has a great article on how you can attempt to do it at home here. You will need a large American style freezer or a big deep chest freezer.  

OR buy it from your local ice person. Most cities have someone producing clear ice.

My favourite ice making tools

The Silicone Giant Ice Cube Tray 

Pros- Easy peasy to fill up, makes six big cubes, and pops out really simple. 

Cons- Tends to spill trying to get it in the freezer drawer.

Zoku Jumbo Ice Cube Tray

Pros- Easy peasy to fill up, makes 12 big cubes, and has a lid to contain your spills and keep out unwanted flavours. 

Cons- Have to buy two at a time, a bit more expensive.

Ice Spear Mold for long drinks

Pros- Great for tall skinny glasses, looks super cool. 

Cons- Easy to spill, depending on your glass, they are a bit skinny and if you can only fit one, they melt fast. 

Glacio Clear Ice Cube Maker

Pros- Makes actual clear ice. Long lasting, slow melting cubes. Price isn't too bad compared to other models. Will impress all your friends. 

Cons- Takes up a lot of room in the freez

What I actually use everyday for my ice at home

Sainsbury's 220ml Basic Food Containers 

Pros- Makes good chunky size cubes that fit in a variety of glasses. Large enough to cut in half. Has lids to keep flavours out. Fits in freezer nicely. Freezes faster than silicone.

Cons- Plastic can get brittle and snap easy if you drop them while they're cold. 

Now that you know how to grow your own ice, go forth, make better ice, and drink better cocktails!