Ice-cube trays are far more versatile than they get credit for. When it comes to cocktails, ice cubes containing liqueurs, coffee, or even chunks of fruit have an advantage over regular ice: they add flavor to your drink rather than watering it down. I’ll give you three good examples:
- Maraschino cubes: Put a Maraschino cherry and a generous splash of the accompanying juice into each section of an ice-cube tray and top the tray off with water. The cubes will freeze solid, although they will have a softer consistency than pure ice cubes. A few cubes in a glass of soda can make a cherry Coke or a Shirley Temple, complete with a cherry at the bottom. For a cocktail party, you can make instant Manhattans by serving bourbon and bitters over a Maraschino cube in a snifter or other small glass. By the time you finish your drink, you’ll have a delicious whiskey-soaked cherry for dessert.
- Coffee cubes: Save old coffee and freeze it in an ice-cube tray. You can keep iced coffee cold (or even faux-Frappuccinos) without watering it down. Coffee cubes are also great additions to creamy or Kahlua-based drinks like White Russians, making them a hit at Lebowski parties.
- Lime cubes: This versatile cube can go in all kinds of drinks, from Coke to tonic water and from whiskey to vodka. Just take an ice-cube tray full of water and add small wedges of lime to each compartment before freezing.
The possibilities go on and on. Flavored ice is great for parties and punch bowls but also for day-to-day treats. I make batches of various flavored ice cubes periodically and keep them in separate containers so the trays can get back to making regular ice.
Embrace the ice-cube tray! It has a lot more tricks to come.