How to Make Better (Clearer) Ice at Home, According to Bartenders – New York Magazine

Photo: Courtesy Focus Features

Even if you’ve perfected your mixology skills and filled your cabinets with fancy glasses and bartending tools, your homemade Old Fashioned or Aperol Spritz will never live up to the ones served at a craft-cocktail bar if you use cloudy ice cubes that smell vaguely like the leftovers you’ve been storing in the freezer. As Mathew Resler, the head bartender at Bar Goto, says, “Ice is an integral ingredient when making cocktails. The appearance, dilution ratio, taste, and purity are all essential to a proper drink.”

Resler and the other bartenders I asked about how to make perfect ice all pointed me to journalist Camper English, who writes about cocktails and spirits and pioneered the technique that most professionals now use to make ice (after experimenting with the frozen stuff for a decade). English says he’s “obsessed with clear ice” and explains that as water freezes, “the first part to freeze will be clear” as air and impurities (which create a cloudy look) are pushed away. But in typical ice-cube trays, the exterior of the cubes freezes first, pushing air and impurities to the center, which becomes cloudy. To prevent that, English created his so-called directional-freezing method, which controls how water freezes by using “an insulated container that forces the ice to freeze from the top down, with a reservoir at the bottom beneath the cubes to collect the cloudy part of the ice.”