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Looking for a micro-luxury? A wonderful and delicious experience that won’t break your budget? One word, dear reader: ice. Crystal clear artisanal ice is a luxury that many craft cocktail, whisky, and spirits drinkers swear by. Since we’re all stuck at home this winter thanks to COVID-19, we have to become our own master mixologists. And ice is essential to that effort. Here’s how to make (and where to buy) crystal clear ice cubes, ice balls and spheres that are perfect for cocktails and whiskey whenever the closest bar has to be the one at your home.

Can you actually make crystal clear ice at home?

In the world of fine food and drink, gourmet artisanal brands are transforming even the most mundane items into highly valued luxury goods. From marshmallows to salt to honey and many things in between, there’s a luxury version of almost everything imaginable now.

We kept reading about crystal clear ice cubes and spheres as critical to enjoyment of a craft cocktail or whiskey, so we decided to investigate.

It’s just about certain that any upscale cocktail bar will be serving crystal clear ice along with their cocktails, whiskey and other spirits. In fact, some have made their names on it: like the legendaryBar High Five in Tokyo. Its known for its signature “ice diamond.”

Closer to home, in Raleigh, North Carolina the bar Stir has taken artisanal ice to heart. They hand-cut the ice cubes for each individual cocktail.

why are crystal clear ice cubes and spheres so important for a cocktail?

Other than bragging rights, why does anyone care about having crystal clear ice cubes and spheres in their cocktail?

Here's how to make and where to buy crystal clear ice cubes, balls and spheres perfect for cocktails and whiskey at your home bar parties.

Well, dear reader, not only is clear craft ice a definite aesthetic enhancement, it melts more slowly than foggy ice, changing the way the water dilutes a drink. Dense ice is far preferable for a master mixologist because it doesn’t dilute the drink as quickly as regular ice.

It turns out that for those who love to host parties at home, or just indulge in a fine whisky from time to time, having the right ice at hand can be essential to the experience.

how do the pros source or make crystal clear ice cubes and spheres?

Before getting into the sourcing data, we thought we’d start with a quick look at how clear ice became such a Thing, and what makes these crystal clear ice cubes and spheres so cool.

it begins with the Clinebell

Any conversation about artisanal craft ice has to include The Clinebell. Before the art of translucent, customizable ice was popularized and adapted, using a Clinebell was the way most restaurants would achieve a visually impactful look with their ice cubes.

These machines work by freezing ice in enormous, see-through blocks. The process involves chilling the water from the bottom up, as opposed to the top down. This is ice that is at the level of art, the kind that sculptors would use. And bringing it to the bar was one of the first ways that serious cocktail establishments found to put a little bit of artistic flair right into your glass.

Here's how to make and where to buy crystal clear ice cubes, balls and spheres perfect for cocktails and whiskey at your home bar parties.

Where to buy crystal clear ice cubes and spheres for cocktails: the Clinebell. Photo Credit: The Edinburgh Ice Company.

specialty purveyors of commercial-quality ice cubes and spheres

Eateries without their own machinery have to import crystal clear ice for cocktails from the outside. There are now artisanal ice suppliers all around the world. Hundredweight Ice is one of the best, supplying many of the chic bars, restaurants and special event spaces in New York. Their ice creations include highball spears, two-inch cubes, five by tens, and ten-inch blocks.

a word about directional freezing

As you shop for some of the new tools to make crystal clear ice cubes and spheres at home, you’ll encounter the phrase “directional freezing.” Journalist Camper English is the creator of this method for keeping impurities from clouding the ice as it freezes and takes shape. By forcing ice to freeze from the top down, with a reservoir at the bottom to collect the cloudy part, making crystal clear ice at home became far more feasible.

where to buy crystal clear ice cubes and spheres for home use

1. Minnesota Pure & Clear Artisan Ice

Minnesota Pure & Clear Artisan Ice is a well-regarded commercial supplier of artisanal ice in the Midwest. In addition to the rock (a two inch square), the shard (ice cut to look like a gem stone), the cylinder, and the rod (perfect for a Tom Collins), they also make custom ice designs. Think letters, snowflakes and more.

Now you can purchase a limited array of their crystal clear ice cubes and spheres for use in your own home. They’re partnering with Market House, where you can order three different shapes of ice online.

2. Mixology Ice

Mixology Ice offers home delivery via freezer truck in South Florida, Chicago and New York. And they also ship by mail throughout the continental U.S. It’s a great source if crystal clear ice for a special occasion. The company offers ice spheres and cubes, crushed ice, and even infused ice – with flowers, fruit or greenery frozen inside – for maximum visual effect.

Here's how to make and where to buy crystal clear ice cubes, balls and spheres perfect for cocktails and whiskey at your home bar parties.

The best luxury gourmet artisanal ice brands: flower-infused cube from Mixology Ice. Courtesy Photo.

The company uses industrially filtered water, harvesting and transforming enormous blocks of pristine ice daily. They are tech-focused, using only automated machinery to create ice that is as smooth and clear as imaginable.

3. Quari Handcrafted Ice

Quari Handcrafted Ice is located in Chicago, and their handcrafted ice is available in home-use packages throughout the city. The ice is made with the purest water and is one hundred percent clear. It will take between two and three hours to melt, ensuring maximum taste in all that you drink.

4. the Gläce Luxury Ice Club

Gläce Luxury Ice , founded in 2007 as a Business School project, enables ultra-premium spirits connoisseurs to source craft ice for their “on the rocks” drinks. The brand offers packages of artisanal ice for $325, available to ship to wherever you are.

And if you just cannot get enough, they also have a quarterly ice club. Once a season, members receive ten pouches of fifty perfect pieces. The annual club membership price is $1,100.

6 ways to make your own crystal clear cocktail ice cubes and spheres at home

1. the Meltdown Mogul

For those who believe in the phrase “go big or go home,” this is the home ice-making tool for you. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Meltdown Mogul weighs 15 pounds. And it can round a block of ice into a perfect 2.5 inch sphere in 30 seconds. The technique relies on the thermal conductivity of the copper from which the device is made. Word has it that even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is craving one of these. It’s a beast.

Here's how to make and where to buy crystal clear ice cubes, balls and spheres perfect for cocktails and whiskey at your home bar parties.

BUY NOW: $2,000.00.

2. TruCubes

The TruCubes insulated ice mold makes commercial-quality ice cubes using the “directional freezing” technique described above. It’s a more affordable way to achieve crystal clear ice cubes at home, and the device gets good reviews online, where the pros and actual buyers both note that it’s easy to use, doesn’t take up too much space in your freezer, and delivers an impressive cube when it’s all said and done.

BUY NOW: $50.00.

3. Wintersmiths Phantom

The Phantom Ice Maker from Vermont-based Wintersmiths gets strong reviews online for quality and its ability to craft spheres, cubes, spears (for a Tom Collins) and prisms at home with no need for a special water supply.There are smaller and lesser expensive ice molds available from the company – but you might want to hold out for the top of the line.

BUY NOW: $140.00. (trays not included)

4. The Museum-caliber whiskey wedge

The MoMA Design Store has joined in this craft ice moment with their high-style version of the latest shape in crystal clear ice: the whiskey wedge. The density and shape of the ice both foster a slow melt. The “wedge” fits perfectly on an angle with the glass – making for a striking appearance. And a good tipple.

Here's how to make and where to buy crystal clear ice cubes, balls and spheres perfect for cocktails and whiskey at your home bar parties.

BUY NOW: $18.00.

5. True Refrigeration Clear Ice Machine

True Refrigeration specializes in restaurant-grade commercial freezers and refrigerators. But the company has a residential line, too. So if you’re planning to be doing lots of entertaining, you might consider their Clear Ice Machine. It can make up to 70 pounds of clear ice per day, and it can store up to 28 pounds.

It’s not small (the dimensions are approximately 15″ x 34″ x 24″), but it will definitely get the job done. The machine can operate indoors or outdoors – and it even features a customized lighting system that creates a soft glow in up to 14 different colors every time the door opens. Cool.

BUY NOW: Depends on Specs.

6.  LG InstaView Refrigerator

In 2019, LG launched four different premium refrigerators, each with the ability to make crystal clear craft ice right in the door. The demand has been so great that according to the Wall Street Journal, the company will have 30 models with this feature by the end of 2021.

LG’s InstaView Door-in-Doorfridge has a dual ice-maker that can create crushed, cubed and slow-to-melt round ice balls. It can make 3 of these crystal clear craft ice spheres per day. So plan ahead! The good news is that these spheres are 90% clear, and the frig is Wi-Fi enabled. So you can use the app to order more (or tell it to make 6 spheres that will be just a bit cloudy). A refrigerator like this will allow you to make five-star cocktails in your own home with almost no work. Prices start at $4,199.

best luxury artisanal ice Here's how to make and where to buy crystal clear ice cubes, balls and spheres perfect for cocktails and whiskey at your home bar parties.

The best crystal clear artisanal ice at home: Craft ice cubes from the LG Instaview refrigerator. Courtesy Photo.

There are reportedly other high-end crystal clear cocktail ice cube and sphere tools for the home on the way – perhaps they’ll actually hit the market this year. Like the GE-backed Forge Clear Ice System, which is said to produce two spheres in 90 seconds, with storage for up to 8 at a time (suggested retail $1,499).

Make or Buy Crystal Clear Cocktail Ice Cubes or Spheres for your Home Bar

That’s how to make and where to buy crystal clear ice cubes, ice ball or spheres for craft cocktails and whiskey time in your own home. For some, it’s Dry January. For others, it’s ice, ice baby. Whichever path you’re on, stay safe and healthy, dear reader.

Abbie Martin Greenbaum

Abbie Martin Greenbaum is a writer, reader, and pop culture connoisseur, who loves storytelling, coffee, and dessert. Her work has also appeared in Playbill.