As the craft cocktail movement gains fans and aficionados, it’s natural that more and more home bartenders enhance their repertoire with sophisticated drinks that taste (and look) like they just came from the local speakeasy. One of the best ways to do this is with something as simple as ice.
If you’ve been to any modern cocktail den lately, you’ll likely notice many drinks with large blocks or spheres of ice instead of the traditional cubes or crushed ice. While the science is a bit more complicated (check out the links below for further reading), the general concept is that by using one large piece of ice, the result is an overall smaller ratio of surface area to volume that ensures less dilution of the drink. And the sphere’s shape gives it the geometric minimum ratio. It doesn’t hurt that they look pretty darn cool too.
The ice sphere was actually popularized in Japan, and you’ll sometimes see them called Japanese ice balls. They’re traditionally carved from a large block of ice [see video], a skill that’s probably out of the question for all but the most meticulous mixologists. Luckily, there are many affordable products entering the marketplace that make it a bit easier for laymen and professionals alike.