Warmer weather means it’s time to start enjoying drinks outside. What’s better than sipping a refreshing cocktail on a nice spring day? Whether your drink of choice is sweet or spicy or somewhere in between, a chilled beverage usually hits the spot — but did you know that the ice in your glass doesn’t have to be a mere afterthought? Turns out, you can glam up your beverages with flavored ice, ice in interesting shapes, or even ice cubes filled with flowers. Fancy ice has become more prevalent as of late, thanks to the popularity of Instagram-ready artisanal cocktails — and lucky for you, it’s simple, cheap, and fun to make at home. Here are five of our favorite tricks for upgrading your ice and taking your spring drinks to the next level.
1. For a Bloom-Worthy Sip: Flower Ice
Adding an edible floral garnish to your glass is a low-effort, high reward way to make your drink feel ready for spring. According to the pros at Southern Living, all you need is an assortment of fresh, de-stemmed edible flowers (like pansies) and an ice cube tray. They suggest you use a larger ice cube tray if you have one, and boil your water before making the ice; this will keep your cubes from being cloudy, so you can see the full glory of the flowers inside.
- Once you’ve prepared your tray and water, fill ice cube tray up halfway, and place one flower on top of each cube. Cover with a tiny bit more water. The molds should be filled barely over halfway, not completely.
- Freeze your cubes for at least six to 12 hours, then pull out tray, and top off the cubes with more boiled water until completely filled up. Freeze another 12 to 24 hours.
- Voilà! Your resulting ice will be a stunning art piece, with brightly colored flowers held in suspended animation in the glistening cubes.
2. For a Tropical Refreshment: Fruit Ice
You know how tasty a fruity ice pop can be on a hot day — and this stripped-down version should also hit the spot. Fruit ice can be easily made in two different styles. You can either put berries in an ice cube mold (the popular recipe blog Damn Delicious suggests blueberries and strawberries), or pour fruit juice directly into the mold. It’s basically a tropical vacation in a glass.
- Gather approximately ¼ cup blueberries and ½ cup strawberries.
- Add one to two berries to each section of your ice cube tray (note that this may vary depending on how big your tray is and how berry-forward you want your ice to be).
- Place the tray in your freezer for at least four hours, until it’s fully frozen.
- Should you want to enjoy fruity ice cubes without sorting out your berries, you can make things even easier — just pour orange juice (or any other juice of your choice) into an ice cube mold, then freeze until hard.
3. For a Sweet Yet Savory Drink: Herb Ice
Whether found in a minty mojito or a basil gimlet, there’s something undeniably sophisticated about a cocktail decked with fresh herbs. The presence of bright green leaves is enough to make a drink feel healthy, and the flavor they add is light and springy yet surprisingly complex. Herbs are also ideal for elevated ice cubes, and tea brand Yogi suggests using lavender, sage, basil, rosemary, or oregano for this clever ice hack. If you have a surplus of herbs from your garden, or bought too many herbs at the grocery store and are worried they’ll go bad, this is a perfect place to use ’em up.
- Take several sprigs of fresh herbs, rinse them, and cut them into small pieces.
- Place a pinch of herbs (either whole or coarsely chopped) in each ice cube mold. Pour water on top of the herbs, filling each mold about ⅓ of the way.
- Place ice cube tray in freezer and let freeze about 45 minutes. Note that the herbs will naturally rise to the top of the water. Remove the tray from the freezer and fill the rest of each mold with water to cover the herbs completely.
- Put the ice cube tray back in the freezer and leave until completely frozen.
4. For an Extra Boozy Moment: Alcohol-Infused Ice
Want to get wild with your spring cocktails? Try boozy ice. Not only does it raise the alcohol content of your drink (meaning you’ll want to sip it slowly!), it also allows the drink to evolve as the cube melts, according to Whisky Advocate. Unlike regular ice cubes, alcohol ice cubes won’t dilute your beverage — rather, they’ll enhance it. The bartenders quoted in Whisky Advocate suggest keeping at least ⅔ of the ice cube base non-alcoholic; since alcohol freezes at a much lower temperature than water, you’ll want to make sure you have enough water in your tray for your cubes to freeze properly. Bartenders also suggest using alcohol with a lower ABV, which should make for easier freezing.
- Get out a bottle of Campari (the Italian liqueur often used in classic negronis) or another low ABV booze.
- Combine approximately ¾ ounces Campari and 2 ounces water.
- Pour the Campari/water mix into an ice cube mold and freeze until solid.
5. For a Playful Spin on an Adult Beverage: Fun-Shaped Ice
Think good, old-fashioned ice made from water and nothing else will suit your needs just fine? Fair enough! But maybe you want to change the shape of your ice, rather than the flavor. That’s easy: the internet offers endless varieties of ice cube trays, from heart-shaped (Buy from Williams-Sonoma, $14.95), to star-shaped (Buy from Amazon, $12.99 for a set of three), to cat-shaped (Buy from Amazon, $9.99), to pineapple-shaped (Buy from Amazon, $8.99). These fun options are just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended) when it comes to novelty ice molds. Bonus: They make excellent hostess gifts, and they’re guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser among adults and kids alike.
Spice up your ice!
Fancy ice may look expensive, but in reality it’s a vastly affordable way to make your drinks appear more elegant, whether you’re hosting an elaborate garden party or enjoying a tipple at home with your family. With ice cubes this fancy, even a simple cup of water will feel special. So, raise your beautiful glass in a toast to spring!
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