Turn Your Favorite Drink Into Ice And Thank Us Later

Ice is an important component of most great cocktails, and it's deceptively simple. Too much ice, or too much time, and you dilute your drink. Not enough ice — or too little contact between spirits and ice — and the flavors won't combine properly. The warmth ends up spoiling the effect. And size matters: Crushed ice is perfect for frozen drinks, but spirit-forward cocktails call for bigger cubes.

If you like to take your time with your beverage and sip slowly — but still want to enjoy it as the ice melts — we have another, better suggestion: Freeze your spirits. 

Now, any chemistry student knows that straight alcohol won't freeze in a regular freezer. Plus, freezing changes texture, which is why it's a bad choice for jello shots, and why you probably don't want to freeze your beer (unless you prefer it flat). If the proof is under 50, you're in luck — you can freeze your beverage in ice trays, and add the cubes to your drinks later, though not all low-proof spirits freeze equally well. But if you're a fan of stronger stuff, you don't need to despair. Higher proof alcohols can be mixed and frozen in an adulterated form. You're best off freezing liqueurs or combining higher proof alcohols with a mixer so that you don't end up with off-tastes. Whiskey Advocate notes that mixologists Allen Lancaster and Jacob Tschetter have both experimented with boozy ice balls, and have experience and wisdom that informs their approach.

Cocktail ice: Where science meets art

Mixologist Jacob Tschetter finds that 10%-12% alcohol by volume (ABV) yields the best results: combining 2 ounces of a 20% ABV (40 proof) alcohol and 2 ounces of another liquid will bring you to that sweet spot when making cubes. Mixologist Allen Lancaster takes a similar tack; he recommends ice cubes made up of 2/3 mixer (juice or other non-alcoholic liquid) and 1/3 spirit at 25%-30% ABV.

The advantages of this method go way beyond keeping your drink strong while you sip: Boozy ice cubes allow you to add additional layers of complexity and delight to your cocktail, letting it evolve over time as your specialty ice cubes dissolve. You could try adding an element of sweet heat to a traditional margarita by combining jalapeño syrup and lime juice with Cointreau, or give it a tropical twist by making ice cubes with Blue Curaçao and pineapple juice. Flavored, spiked ice balls are a pretty easy way to expand your cocktail repertoire, giving you a little more time to enjoy your drink and its variations over time.

Playing with ice cube options is a perfect way to advance plan some inspiration, and it doesn't stop at boozy cubes — there is a whole host of clever things you can do with your ice cube trays, alcoholic and otherwise (though we consistently recommend against using natural icebergs in cocktails).