Tag - Ice

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Ice Geekery on the Web
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This Year’s Christmas Gift for the Bar Nerd in Your Life
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Mythbusters Shake and Stir
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Extracting the Inversions for Tiki Month
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SideBlog: Richard Branson Carves His Own Face Into 1st Class Ice Cubes
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The Bar Accessory The EVERY Cocktail Geek Must Obtain

Ice Geekery on the Web

Kristoff, The Disney Ice Geek
“Ice is my life!”
Now ice geeks are even getting the a princess in Disney movies!

Ice has been big on my mind lately, not least of which because of the entire family of ear-worms that have taken up residence in my skull after seeing Disney’s iceapalooza Frozen. (If you haven’t seen it, consider going, even if you don’t have kids.) My ice thoughts may also have been prompted by Earth pulling its atmospheric hat down over its forehead, leaving 90% of the US feeling like it got relocated to Birds-Eye warehouse. Screw you, California! (Shakes mittened fist) Also, a lot of excellent ice reading has appeared on the web in the last few days that is worth a post that rounds it all up for you.

I’ll start with the straight cocktail ice stuff. Thrillist’s Scotchtales blog has two excellent articles on ice geekery in drinks. The first is 9 Crazy Historical Facts About the Ice in Your Drink. (They are hiring Buzzfeed headline writers over there, apparently) The big takeaway from the article is how large an industry cutting ice from frozen lakes (back to Kristoff from Frozen again) and shipping it world-wide was before, and even for a while after, mechanical refrigeration was invented. It’s an entertaining read, full of skullduggery, bankruptcy, slander, and fingertips being lost to frost bite. Also, we are reminded that the only thing worse for a French politician’s reputation than not leaving his mistress for a hotter mistress is serving hot wine.

tmg-slideshow_xxl
Source: Thrillist

The companion piece by Ted Smith, is Want Better Drinks? Use Better Ice. The experienced cocktail ice manipulator will find little new here, but it is a good outline of why different ice for different jobs is so useful a pice of knowledge. There is other stuff to read too, along with some cool pics.

In the non-cocktail centric ice news, did you know that there is an ice-obsessed international sporting event taking place shortly? If not, NBC wants a word with its marketing department, because they missed you.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

There is a lot of folderol in that video, but there is also perhaps the best explanation of why skates and skis work I’ve seen. Ice isn’t just slippery, it is uniquely slippery.

Gizmodo asks a really fascinating question, What Happens When Water Freezes in a Box so Strong it Can’t Expand? It turns out this is a question perilously close to “Can God make a rock so heavy she can’t lift it?” Water really, really, really wants to expand when it crystallizes. It exerts about 43,500 pounds per square inch of pressure when freezing… I don’t know about you, but even if I held my ice mold closed with my bare hands, I couldn’t even manage half that pressure. There’s lots more here about the fact that there are all sorts of exotic ice forms that can be created with crazy pressures and temperature, but I think we’re safe from ungodly snooty Williamsburg cocktail dens telling us your Old Fashioned isn’t “authentic” without a cube of Ice VII to chill it… for a while yet, at least.

Now, a lot of Americans who weren’t used to Polar Vortexes wanted to give the instant snow trick a try, and got burned. Apparently, you shouldn’t throw the boiling water straight up over your head.
Who knew?
I think this trick is best left to the Canadians, who show the singular lack of judgement to live in a place where it can be practiced more than once every twenty years. And, since everyone knows that Canadians are just Russians who speak English, but don’t document their shenanigans with omnipresent dashcams, I include here for your pleasure the best snow-making video I’ve been able to find:

Given that this guy is speaking in English, I suspect this video is actually a KGB plot to get Americans to kill ourselves so the Russians don’t have to.

Vladimir Putin think you're adorably gullible.“What? KGB no longer exists?
You are adorable!”

I will close with some advice form Dave Wondrich that I mentioned earlier in the SideBlog. Twitter is a hard medium in which to impart real, advanced cocktail knowledge, but Dave absolutely nails it on the subject of ice:

This Year’s Christmas Gift for the Bar Nerd in Your Life

It is Cyber Monday at Amazon and a zillion other websites. I was perusing to see what is out there for my wife, kids, and myself (As usual, I have been informed that I am hard to shop for), when I noticed a sale at Amazon on an item that most bar nerds like me think they have… but don’t.
Fresh Force Citrus Juicer

You’re wrong. I don’t think I have a citrus juicer. I know I have a citrus juicer. Three of ‘em, in fact!

Yeah, but if none of them are these Chef’n FreshForce Juicers, then you need one. At first glance, these juicers look just like the much more common Amco or OXO types you see almost everywhere. The FreshForce even comes in green, yellow, and orange, corresponding in size to your citrus of desire. You even use it exactly the same way you use those other squeeze juicers.

The difference is in the engineering of the hinge. Look at the photo above. You can see a larger view on the Amazon page. Unlike the older models, it isn’t a hinge at all. It’s a gear-driven, multi-lever apparatus that gives you a helluva lot more leverage, and more leverage means more juice extracted from each piece of fruit. More leverage also means that for those of us who are Old™ (I’m not really that old, but when I play a lot of tennis, my hands feel like I am), it is much easier to operate.

Regardless of your digital strength and flexibility, during that time of the year when all the limes are hard and have that thick skin (you know when I’m talking about), using one of these improved juicers makes it much less like a bare-handed struggle to the death with an Amazon boa constrictor to get enough lime juice for your Pegu.

As I write this, though perhaps not when you read it, the yellow “lemon-sized” FreshForce is a Cyber Monday deal at Amazon for nineteen bucks. The orange-sized is a whopping thirty-eight. The lime is twenty, which is more than the lemon. You do not need the lime juicer, as the lemon does a great job on limes anyway.

One other Amazon deal I happened upon while checking out these juicers is a set of two of the Tovolo spherical ice molds. At less than eight bucks right now, they are pretty worth while. They don’t make clear ice, but no work, no brainer big ice makes Old-Fashioneds easier to do right.

Of course, none of these products do me any good as far as my Christmas list goes, since I already have them. What kind of bar geek toy do I need that I don’t have? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

UPDATE: This bar product is also on sale for Cyber Monday. Do not buy it. Don’t even look at it.

Mythbusters Shake and Stir

I do not know how I missed this, since Mythbusters is among my family’s favorite shows, but in one of the James Bond episodes, they took on the issue of the Gospel of Gin: Shaken or Stirred.

It warms my heart to see that once again, they get it right. (And Bond gets it wrong)

They leave out only two things here. One they should have. One they should not have. They rightly left out all mention of “bruising” things. I seriously doubt that gin bruises anyway. Some folks claim it is the vermouth that gets bruised, but I also doubt this. I’d suggest instead that people who shake Martinis are a careless and neglectful sort who probably let their vermouth go bad with age, and that’s where the ill flavor comes from.

What they should have addressed a bit deeper, because it is a serious problem for a lot of still learning cocktail-philes, is the issue of dilution. They do note that the problem with the shaken Martini is that it is too diluted. But they’d have done well to add a few seconds to the effect that some dilution is essential to every cocktail. Always remember, the ice is more than coolant. It is an ingredient. Too little is just as bad as too much.

Extracting the Inversions for Tiki Month

Turning Doctor Bamboo on His Head
Uninverted Source: Dr. Bamboo

Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut, and author of Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book, is the man I call The Hardest Working Blogger in Booze Business™. Nowhere is this more clear than in his shouldering the burden of keeping Mixology Monday alive, and in wrangling other hard working bloggers into running the monthly programs. Since I am not a hard-working blogger, I have managed to miss almost all of the second wave of MxMos.

Bad blogger!
No Fernet for you!

But I made it in for this month, since I had a Tiki idea.

The excellent Stewart of Putney Farm stepped up to the plate to host MxMo this month, with a cool, if maddeningly open-ended, theme of Inversion. You can read his excellent round up of the results at that link, but I noted that there was a surprising number of Tiki or Tiki Compliant entries beyond mine and wanted to give them all a second link here.
Dagreb's Flourishing Heir
My buddy Dagreb inverts the Suffering Bastard to give us the Flourishing Heir. For reasons unknown, this makes me think of Downton Abbey, and every time I read his post I am seized with the image of a Tiki party at Downton, with Carson arguing with the Earl of Grantham that it is scandalous for him to appear in that fighter plane-patterned dinner jacket, and the Earl should behave himself and wear his more conservative aloha floral patterned tails.
Oh, Dagreb offers a second inverted cocktail as well, but it is a vile perversion of all that is good and holy and I shall not write of it here.

Iat Iam
Joey of Rated R Cocktails has bought into Tiki Month in a big way, may Pele bless him. He will need those blessings, because his offering, the Iat Iam (Mai Tai inverted, get it?) commits almost every sacrilege imaginable to Tiki’s holiest concotion… and still manages to produce a good result! Seriously Joe, gin? Orange juice? Bitters? Red superball cocktail cherries? Freaking Blue Curaçao? What, all out of commercial “grenadine”, were you?

The Tigress
Chef-blogger Nathan Hazard, whose blog sports the gloriously inexplicable moniker of The Chocolate of Meats, pulls off no mean feat in The Tigress—a completely juiceless Tiki drink! I don’t have the time to produce his pineapple cordial which ties it all together, which is too bad because I think this might be an ideal culmination of this year’s unofficial Tiki Month theme of cocktail-style Tiki drinks.

Hawaii O
Another Tiki cocktail, a dessert one this time, is the Hawaii-O, from Danish blogger Andrea at Gin Hound. She takes a long-forgotten candy and inverts it into a cocktail. Chocolate and pineapple go really well together under all circumstances, but with a healthy dose of rum? Yum. The only thing I don’t like about this post is that it reminds me that I did no dessert drinks myself this time through Tiki Month….

Hopped Up Nui Nui
One of my favorite bloggers, and one of my wife’s favorite bartenders, Jacob Grier of Liquidity Preference takes the classic Nui Nui and beers it up with Inversion IPA! I’d wax on here about the very interesting head Jacob gets on the drink from shaking it with a carbonated ingredient already mixed in, which I’d have never considered doing, but I’m too busy wondering where to find that extraordinary cocktail umbrella.
(Bonus: Check out Jacob’s Great Moments in Heterosexuality, which I’d previously not noticed.)

Invertita Boozenerds
“Boozenerds” Christa and Shaun offer two Tiki, or at the least Tiki Compliant, cocktails. The Invertita (pictured) is a spicy aromatic drink where the frozen stuff stays under the liquid. The second, the Rogue Wave, is an Old-Fashioned that morphs into a Tiki drink as the frozen fruit nectar ice cubes melt. Tiki is a particularly ice-nerdy genre of drinks, and these are two fun-looking techniques that I intend to try with stuff that isn’t Tiki-related too.

MxMo-Tiki-Logo
And I did my aforementioned post as well, in which I “inverted” making a critical Tiki ingredient by, um, not making said critical Tiki ingredient.

There are plenty more worthwhile (though not Tiki) posts outlined in Stewart’s roundup post. Do go check them out as well!

And hey! This post is part of Tiki Month 2013 here at the Pegu Blog! Be sure to look around for LOTS more Tiki stuff all February!

SideBlog: Richard Branson Carves His Own Face Into 1st Class Ice Cubes


Richard Branson is now carving his own face into the ice served in Virgin Atlantic 1st Class. For the record, these intricate molds are unrecognizable after 10 seconds in liquid….

The Bar Accessory The EVERY Cocktail Geek Must Obtain

Polar Ice Tray opening
The Polar Ice Tray is quite possibly the most essential bar accessory a home cocktail bar enthusiast should own. Really. It’s that cool.

The more you grow to love cocktails, and especially making your own cocktails, Ice Obsession Syndrome seems less and less like a mental disorder and more like a reasonable state of mind. The size, temperature, and water quality of your ice all affect the cocktails you make and serve. Further, once you start paying attention to the application of your ice, you naturally start to pay attention to the aesthetics of your ice.
The connoisseur has two desires for his or her ice, especially the ice served in a rocks drink like an Old Fashioned, Big and Clear. Big isn’t so hard, especially these days. But ice tray ice and even some ice maker ice is full of tiny bubbles that cloud the stuff and make it look dirty. And the bigger the chunk of ice floating in a drink, the more obvious that cloudiness is. The Holy Grail of cocktail ice is big chunks that look like melty glass.

Over at Alcademics, Camper English has spent the last year in the quest for clear ice. After a host of mostly failed experiments, he came up with a cool working method of producing clear ice at home. It involves putting a whole igloo cooler in your freezer, however, so it doesn’t really fit under the heading of “Convenient”.

Enter the Polar Ice Tray from Lumiaire. This sleek, small loaf of bread-sized ice tray will make you a slab of nearly crystal clear ice about 6 by 5 by 1.5 inches in around twelve hours, using the same principals that Camper worked out. As you can see from my picture up top, and this one here, it is a lovely little device, too.

I cannot recommend enough how well this little guy works. Once you get the hang of it, it produces a nice supply of serving ice to have fun with and enjoy, without taking up an inordinate amount of your freezer’s limited space.

The one criticism I have of the Polar Ice Tray is the documentation, which less than adequately explains the use of the device. So I’ll give you The Missing Manual here, if you will. This part of the review is fairly in depth, so if you want to skip it for now, just jump down to the results.
Here’s an exploded diagram of each part of the Polar Ice Tray.

Only the three bottom pieces will matter most of the time. The bottom is an insulated holder. Always make sure it is dry inside and out when you get ready to make ice. The two white trays are where the ice will form. Fill the bottom tray with water almost to the top and then nestle the top tray (which has a number of small holes on the bottom) down into it. Press down and it will fit snugly. Then add more water until the level in the top tray comes about a half to a quarter inch from the top. Lift the white trays and nestle them tightly in the bottom cooler.

Place the combined pieces into your freezer. Make sure it is resting flat. The manual spends a lot of time on the temperature you should set your freezer to for optimum results. (0° C is best.) Unless you are in the terminal phases of Ice Geekery, you are unlikely to go changing the temp you like your freezer to be for this gadget, so be assured it will produce nice results at any functional level. The worst that can happen is tiny needles of air along the bottom.

What is important is where in the freezer you place the tray. Do not put it near the freezer element! If you do, you will get a giant, knobbly, frosty, permanent wave climbing out of one side of the tray. It looks weird and makes getting the ice out harder.

Surface wave on top of ice
The closer to the chilling element you place the Polar Ice Tray, the larger this unsightly wave will get.

One more thing that is never mentioned in the manual: do not use the lid when making ice! If you do, you will not make ice at all.

A word here on how the science of the Polar Ice Tray works. When water freezes, it pushes out any dissolved air into the remaining unfrozen water. In most ice trays, the ice freezes all around the outside first. As the crystallization moves inward, the air is forced inward as well. Soon the air over-saturates the remaining water and begins to form bubbles, which freeze in place. The result is cloudy ice. In the Polar Ice Tray, the insulated container prevents the ice from forming on the sides and bottom. Instead the ice slab forms smoothly from the top down, like pond ice. The air is forced downward instead of inward.
This is where the double-boiler like construction comes in. Bubbles will not really start to form until the ice has frozen down to the bottom of the top tray. The air is forced down through the holes and forms lots of bubbles in the thin lower chamber, but few if any will be present in the big slab formed in the top tray!

When your twelve hours is up, remove the Polar Ice Tray from your freezer and lift out the white inserts. Set them aside on a counter where they can safely drip a bit and walk away for about five minutes. It’s not hard to find something to do in your bar while you wait. Clean up the bitters stains or something. The wait lets the trays come apart easily and will let the ice warm up a bit. Almost none will actually melt however. Carefully remove the lower tray. The upper tray will be filled with clear ice, and there will be a slab of gnarly white ice stuck to the bottom.


Getting this waste ice off the bottom is easy, but does require a little patience.

Run a thin stream of cold water from the tap and let it flow over the seam between the junk ice and the bottom of the upper tray. Rotate it around until a seam opens. When the seam is deep enough to reach the first holes, turn the tray upside down and gently press on the junk ice. In a few moments, the inner good ice should slip free. Discard the crap ice and you are left with a lovely slab of clear ice.

Did I say lovely? Actually, the bottom will likely have a layer of bubbles and imperfections about a millimeter deep, and the top will be fairly frosty. Don’t worry, as soon as you use the ice, this will all disappear.


All this cloudiness will vanish as soon as the ice gets immersed.

I told you to let the ice warm up a bit because if you don’t, the thermal shock of even cold tap water will shatter the slab. It doesn’t fall apart, it just has big fissures everywhere. You can still use the ice, but it won’t look as cool. And in that case, what the heck was the point?

Before you reload the Polar Ice Tray, fill the insulated bottom with warm water and let it rest of a bit. If you don’t, the cold container will let the water in the bottom chamber freeze early, and the air will end up making its last stand in the upper tray, forming bubbles there and ruining the slab.

The blue tray and its inner lid are a special mold which makes a little ice man statue. I haven’t tried it, but if you want a chunk of ice shaped like a little dude, it should be awesome. The top lid combines with the insulated bottom to make a lovely ice bucket, should you wish.

As for using the ice, you’ll probably want to knock the slab down to four or six chunks, each of which should do awesomely for a low or high ball, depending on the shape you make. My aforementioned ice guy, Camper, has a nice post on using an ice pick, and notes that the alternative ice saw is a lot of effort.
He looks like he’s using an Anvil Ice Pick, or similar Sharon Stone approved model. Single prong ice picks like this look awesome and scary, and give you tremendous control while carving ice.


Pictured: NOT Camper English.

But at fifty bucks, the Anvil is a trifle cher…. Since the only carving I’m doing right now is simply snapping the slab in straight lines, I prefer one of these. $3.25 on Amazon.

If you store your ice in the freezer before serving, be sure to let it warm up again first, or it will shock when you put it in the drink. And as to that frost of surface bubbles that may have been evident as I mentioned above? Once you put your chunk into the drink and give it a good stir (or better, pre-chill the drink in a mixing tin and pour it over the ice) the surface imperfections will disappear, and you will be left with a glorious, clear, giant chunk of diamond keeping the finished libation chilled.

Oh and the cool little ice dude whose mold I mentioned before? Apparently, he is an action hero…

Here are a few more links about U-Cube Creative, the Taiwanese firm which created the Polar Ice Tray. Founder Chu Yulong is apparently quite the cocktail lounge connoisseur. The company’s Taiwanese website (in english) shows some other products they make, including a number of other shaped Polar Ice Trays. The site is worth looking at for some creative ideas they have for using the product. I’m looking in to whether or not the other ice trays are available on this side of the Pacific. I’ve talked to someone at Lumiere, and he tells me that the Bamboo version of the Polar Ice Tray will be available in the US around the end of March!

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