Published September 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.
Hip lounges and artisan bartenders tout the virtues of superior ice. But do they make a better drink?
Hip lounges and craftsman bartenders tout the virtues of superior ice. Now silicone trays producing cubes ranging from tiny to glass-hogging are available for home mixologists. Do they make a better drink? To find out, we bought four.
Filled with water, the squishy silicone of one tray sagged, resulting in bulged ice. The sturdier silicone of another tray produced samples with clean, impressively crisp edges. While another product included a raised lip to contain spills, this also trapped runoff water, which froze and stuck in sheets to the tops of the cubes.
We measured the melting rates of the ice by adding equal weights of each type of cube to glasses of juice. Over the course of 30 minutes, one tray’s cubes melted the most, adding 48 percent more liquid; and the 2-inch cubes of another product the least, adding 36 percent more liquid (the other two samples were tied at 38 percent). The small cubes’ extra surface area resulted in faster thawing, but it also did a better job of cooling the juice: Even after 30 minutes, the juice was a noticeable 4 degrees more chilled than the sample with the Jumbo cubes. For thirst-quenchers that will be rapidly consumed, we recommend using the cubes from one tray. For slowly sipped drinks such as Scotch, another product’s cubes not only look sharp, but also keep dilution to a minimum. (Before you buy the that tray, measure glassware first to be sure the 2-inch cubes fit.)