How to make ice balls for picture-perfect cocktails
By Adrian Back
- Discover the main reason why ice balls are superior to ice cubes
- Learn a few common methods for creating ice balls at home
- Use this one fool-proof tip to create a crystal-clear ice ball
- Decide whether you should invest in a sphere ice cube maker
Turn heads at a dinner party or impress your friends by making photo-ready drinks. There is one trick that can elevate any beverage: creating a slow-melting ice ball. Featured in cocktail bars around the world, this stunning sphere will ensure your drinks are Instagram-worthy.
Forget cubes! It’s all about ice balls
You might think that ice balls were only popularised for their pleasing aesthetics. Let’s face it, a perfectly round sphere in a stylish tumbler definitely grabs attention. But there is actually a proven reason why the best ice cubes aren’t cubes at all.
Ice balls last longer because, compared to the classic cubed design, they have less surface area. This means that ice cubes melt much faster, since they have more contact with the surrounding liquid.
Four ways to master the ice ball
If you want to make your own ice balls, here are four common methods you can try:
1. Use a special ice ball mould
A simple solution that works in the same way as an ice cube tray, they generally consist of two moulds that can be filled with water to create ice balls. Single moulds are available but you’ll easily find trays that can make upwards of six ice balls at a time.
There are numerous moulds available but be careful to pay attention to the size of the sphere. Mini ice balls may look fun, but they can melt just as quickly as ice cubes. Two-inch balls are considered the most effective when it comes to slow dilution.
2. Create ice balls quickly with a metal press
True cocktail aficionados will own a shaker, muddler and spirit measures. But only those who really want to show off will invest in an ice ball press.
Often made of aluminium, these stylish metal moulds break down a large chuck of ice to form a flawless sphere. Requiring just a bit of force and a large stock of ice blocks, these presses can make a high volume of ice balls and are great if you’re throwing a cocktail party.
3. Make ice balls easily with balloon forms
This method takes a bit of practice and won’t yield a perfect sphere. But balloon forms are the most affordable way to concoct a drink that belongs on social media.
Just grab a balloon, fill it with water, tie it up and then place it in the freezer overnight. Not only will you create a cool teardrop shape, but you can adjust the size of the water-filled balloon to suit any of your glasses.
4. Get a flawless sphere every time with an automatic ice ball maker
The quickest solution is investing in an automatic ice ball maker, which prepares symmetrically round orbs with the touch of a button. You can purchase a standalone ice ball machine that sits on your countertop, but your fridge can do the hard work for you.
With an LG InstaView® Refrigerator with Craft Ice maker, the Craft Ice feature automatically creates ice balls on demand. Thanks to the way water is compressed during the freezing process, Craft Ice balls last longer than smaller, cube-shaped ice pieces.1 That means no preparation is needed to produce clear, slow-melting ice for visually appealing drinks at any time of the day.2
Bonus: create crystal-clear ice balls with directional freezing
To end up with a perfectly clear ice ball, you have to employ the directional freezing method. This requires you to use an ice ball mould, cocktail shaker and a small cooler that can fit inside a freezer.
- The first task is to fill the cooler with water, leaving a couple of inches at the top for the ice to expand.
- Then, fill a shaker to the top with water.
- Next up, fill an ice ball mould up to the brim and close it.
- Turn the mould upside down and place it on top of the shaker inside the cooler.
- Once frozen, remove the shaker and mould from the block of ice in the cooler.
- Finally, chip away at the cylinder of ice underneath the shaker and then admire your crystal clear ice ball.
It may sound like hard work, but it’s worth it if you need an affordable way to make clear ice balls at home.
Sphere ice cube makers: the pros and cons
If you like to have the latest kitchen gadgets, there are individual machines that can produce perfect ice balls. While these tend to be extremely stylish and have the ability to make several spheres by pressing a button, there are some downsides.
They can often be pricey, bulky and inefficient—since you need to wait for the water to freeze separately. Rather than buying a standalone ice machine, you can instead choose a new refrigerator with a built-in automatic ice ball maker for your next upgrade.
No matter if you are a cocktail connoisseur or simply looking to dazzle friends with your ultra-stylish creations, then ice balls are a great way to improve the look and taste of any beverage.
2 Shape and clarity of ice may vary with settings, water supply and home use conditions.