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How to Make Cocktail Ice That’s Crystal Clear

By Joe Gitter Published

Learn how to achieve restaurant-quality ice at home.

Ever wonder why the ice in your drink at a tony cocktail bar or restaurant can look crystal clear, while the cubes that come out of your ice tray can be practically opaque? That cloudiness is caused by trapped air bubbles and dissolved minerals in the water. 

What Causes Cloudiness?

Water naturally absorbs air, and when it freezes, the air comes out of solution, forming bubbles. Ice cubes freeze from the outside in, so the air bubbles, along with any trace amounts of minerals, get pushed to the center as the water freezes, triggering the formation of irregular ice crystals and clouding up your ice.

Commercial ice-making machines are designed to avoid these issues, but you can create sparkling-clear ice at home with no special equipment and a few simple tricks (adapted from a method pioneered by writer Camper English). 

What Gets Rid of It?

First, use mineral-free distilled water. Second, boil it to drive off much of the dissolved air. Third, insulate the bottom of your ice cube trays, which will cause the ice to freeze from the top down, pushing any remaining dissolved air to the bottom of the cube and leaving the bulk of it clear.

Here’s the method:

  1. Line a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish (glass conducts heat more slowly than metal) with a triple layer of dish towels (each folded in half) and set two silicone ice trays inside it. 
  2. Boil distilled water and pour it into the trays, let it cool slightly, and place the setup in the freezer. 
  3. Once the water freezes, you’ll find that any cloudiness is confined to the bottom of the ice cubes.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.