There’s something really special about dressing up your cocktails, don’t you think?! If you want to make raising a glass much more memorable than a standard swig, try serving your drink INSIDE of an ice sphere, which guests can then crack open for the perfect celebration. May I introduce you to an Ice Sphere Cocktail, the coolest at-home mixology trick on the block!
I, Colleen, remember my mom spending the day in the kitchen, cooking up an elaborate ‘adults-only’ meal for a few close couple friends. Us kids were much happier munching bagel bites, potato skins, and whatever other freezer apps we picked out at the super market that day. Junk food for dinner! Sparkling cider! Staying up til midnight! Obviously, THIS was the height of luxury — our parents could keep their cloth napkins and crystal goblets to themselves. Nowadays, I still like a good freezer app every once in a while, but my entertaining game has matured quite a bit. I’m always looking for ways to make a meal really memorable.
When I first saw a cocktail served not ON ice, but IN ice (at the Aviary in Chicago), I knew I wanted to perfect an at-home version for extreme level hosting. Turns out, it’s not particularly hard, and doesn’t require a ton of fancy equipment. But your guests won’t know that!…
Though this whole cocktail-in-a-sphere trick isn’t very hard, it IS a little tricky, since every freezer is different and freezing time will vary. In other words, try this ahead of time so you can leave room for error and figure out exactly what freezing time is ideal for your freezer. You want an ice wall thickness of about 1/4 inch, which should take between 3-5 hours (I would start testing with 4). Flip the ice sphere molds upside down halfway through the freezing process (so at 2 hours if you’re freezing for a total of 4), and try not to open the freezer any other time.
Remove the ice sphere mold from the freezer and drill a small hole through the top (most molds have a convenient hole that allows you to do this without removing the lid). You can either use your syringe to do this by rotating it clockwise and counterclockwise, or use a thin drill tip (this is what I did, mostly because it’s quick and pretty fun — look mom, I’m an ice sculptor!). Then use your syringe to suck up all the unfrozen water from inside the ice sphere.You now have a crystal clear hollow ice ball! Congrats! Take in its beauty for a second in case you smash it while removing it from the mold, which I’ve done before and which will make you super sad if it happens. To avoid said sadness, VERY CAREFULLY remove your beautiful hollow sphere from the mold. If it isn’t budging, run the mold under COLD water for 30 seconds (hot water, like you’d usually use to remove ice, will cause it to crack).
Once you’ve got it out, carefully place the ice sphere in a sturdy glass (remember you’re going to smash this baby open with a spoon, and I’ve lost delicate glasses to overzealous guests). A good way to do this is by holding the glass sideways and sliding the ball in with your hand. Once you’ve got it in there, store the glass/ball in the freezer until you’re ready to fill it.
Now that you have your vessel, you can go ahead and make your cocktail. I like to use a high ABV cocktail like an Old-Fashioned or Negroni, so that it won’t freeze, and I can make it in advance. If the cocktail is too warm, it will melt the bottom of your ice sphere when you put it inside, and you will probably cry (speaking from experience here), so I make both the sphere AND cocktail ahead of time and store BOTH in the freezer.
When you’re ready to serve, remove the glass/sphere from the freezer. Do I need to say be careful again? Probably not, but just for good measure BE CAREFUL! Don’t let your ice smash against the glass — stabilize it with your fingers if you have to. Locate the small hole you made (it may have closed again depending on how far in advance you made your sphere, in which case you’ll have to reopen it with the needle or drill), then slowly fill your hollow ice sphere with your ice-cold cocktail using the syringe.
Congrats, you did it! Your cocktail is now safely inside your sphere. Arm your guests with some spoons, and instruct them to crack their sphere open at the stroke of midnight. Seriously, can you think of a more festive toast? Cracking ice is like popping bubble wrap — it’s just innately fun!
So in short, there’s no particular technique or equipment that makes the Ice Sphere Cocktail too difficult for the at home chef (everyone should try it!), but there ARE a whole lot of opportunities to mess up (thin ice just really wants to break, people). Try to be a good sport about any failed attempts, learn from them, and move on.
I love that you can make the hollow spheres in advance, store them in the freezer, and break them out when the time is right (I’m always looking for ways to keep the hard work part hidden from my guests). If you’re looking for a highly memorable way to serve your drinks this year, you really need to try these Ice Sphere Cocktails!