Clearly, It’s Time To Clean Up Your Ice

Participating in the cocktail revolution requires mixing the finest spirits crafted with fresh ingredients, assembled with stunning bar tools, and served in memorable glassware. Too bad the ice from the freezer is destroying your cocktails. As we enjoy the cocktail revival and all the beautiful and creative aspects of the culture of imbibing, the trickiest element in the modern cocktail is the ice.  Freezer ice is not only ugly, but it’s flavor polluting. Inferior cubes melt rapidly and ultimately dilute and degrade the exceptional ingredients expertly combined. Fear not, there are several practical solutions to this quandary.

Making clear, tasteless ice blocks at home is not straightforward, and although possible (we’ll get to that), there are natural “first-steps” to take in shattering the ice conundrum. The science of freezing in a home freezer is this; as water freezes, it begins forming ice on the surface, trapping impurities and bubbles within the cube resulting in a cloudy cube that is not completely solid. Murky, porous cubes melt faster, compromising both the quality and taste of the beverage they’re cooling.

Too bad the ice from the freezer is destroying your cocktails.

In-freezer ice-maker ice takes on the flavor of the freezer in which it lives. Diligence and a couple of easy hacks can fix that. First, it’s essential to keep it clean, with sealed food containers, rotation of contents, and a box of baking soda, for good measure. Change the water filter regularly. If you’re not using a high volume of ice, and it sits more than a day, dump and replenish often to keep it fresh. It’s a good idea to store newly made ice in a sealed freezer bag to keep it fresher longer. If you’re making your own ice cubes, you want them to be as solid and transparent as possible. The best hack is to double boil your water.  Using distilled water, boil it, let it cool, and boil it again before freezing. This removes impurities and bubbles.

Ice cube trays have a host of problems, and to be clear, the only solid option for trays is the classic aluminum type because they’re nonporous. Plastic and silicone trays take on the aroma of the freezer they’re stored in and transfer that flavor to the ice. The smell never comes out. Plastic trays can leach both chemicals and flavor into the ice. Novelty cubes from silicone molds are a decent option as long as they’re used correctly. The best method is to freeze the cubes, unmold them promptly, store the ice, and wash the molds with warm soapy water and a touch of white vinegar. Store the molds in a cabinet, not the freezer.

After testing several “clear cube” devices made for home mixologists, we obtained some decent results. Using distilled, double-boiled water in an insulated cooler with approximately 3” of water, freeze uncovered for 8-10 hours, score the ice and cut into blocks with a pick and a sharp knife (and gloves, of course). Shaping the cubes will take practice, but the ice will be dense and clear. The cooler takes up a substantial real estate in the freezer; if that’s an issue, there are commercial insulated 4-square block ice makers that also work well. Using the same water process, you can achieve a mostly clear block that may require a little shaving of bubbles off one side.

It’s a good idea to store newly made ice in a sealed freezer bag to keep it fresher longer.

If DIY is not your thing, there are many clear “gourmet” ice makers on the market in under-counter and stand-alone style machines that produce clear ice chips or small blocks akin to an average bar or restaurant. There are also tabletop systems that produce clear ice “slugs” that can be molded into ice spheres or blocks. These solutions can be costly; however, they deliver a consistent product worthy of a luxury beverage. For special occasions and entertaining, an ice delivery service is a solid option. Available in most areas, an ice service will not only provide shapes that the glassware requires, but also can create personalized messages and custom elements.

Finally, choose your shape, sphere, cube, chip or shard in harmony with cocktail and vessel. This should render a solid ice game for any home mixologist, complementing the beauty of the tipple being served. 

Ice, Ice Baby.

Marie Claire recommends NOLET’S Silver for a Chill Summer Cocktail. Mixologist Julie Reiner of Clover Club in Brooklyn whips up a frozen NOLET’S Silver Gin drink, The Roman Holiday.  This slushy libation will inspire and cool down every summer celebration. Sweet strawberries combined with bitter Campari make for a fashionable twist on a classic Gin lemonade.

Click here for the recipe to make your own.

Raise a Glass to these 7 Creative Cocktail Hour Ideas

Hosting a gathering at home can be tons of fun — all of your friends gathered in one place to enjoy each other’s company over drinks. It’s the epitome of a classy yet relaxed gathering. However, cocktail hour can become a bit routine if you do the same thing week after week.

If you want to host a soiree but feel that your drink plans need a kick in the rear, don’t worry—we’ve got your back. From expanding your mixology repertoire to ornamenting your bar with decorative pieces, try mixing things up with these seven suggestions for hosting more creative cocktails next time you have the crew over for drinks at your place.

Take the road less traveled.

For a subtle twist, make classic drinks with unusual ingredients, such as NOLET’S® Silver Gin. Unlike most gins, which have a piney, juniper-heavy flavor profile, NOLET’S Silver is floral and fruit-forward, with notes of Turkish rose, peach and raspberry.

Find beautiful glassware. 

Dressing up the bar is sure to refresh cocktail time. Replace plain glasses with a beautiful vintage set, or better yet find elegant new barware to update your entertaining space. Just be ready to fend off all the compliments from your friends. 

Experiment with garnishes.

Uncommon garnishes, like fresh berries or herbs, can do wonders for perking up a tired cocktail. Try the NOLET’S Silver Basil Smash (recipe below), which uses fresh basil to enhance the aromatic qualities of the drink.

Go around the world. 

Host a theme party by setting up stations with different exotic cocktails and snacks, each representing a specific country. If you have multiple rooms available, you can even include a playlist that matches the international theme in each space.

Have fun freezing.

Try freezing various edible items into ice cubes for a signature drink. Fruit and edible flowers both make a gorgeous statement suspended in ice. For example, freeze lavender sprigs into ice cubes for a NOLET’S Silver Lavender Gin + Tonic (recipe below).

Pair perfectly. 

Match drinks with complementary hors d’oeuvres to enhance both and provide a little variety to the evening. For example, this recipe for Figs with Lavender makes a lovely partner for the NOLET’S Silver Gin + Tonic (mentioned above).

Expand your horizons.

If you’re making the same few drinks every time you have people over, no wonder you’re bored of the same old routine. Shake up the schedule by making a cocktail you’ve never heard of, such as the NOLET’S Silver Dutch 75 (see recipe below).


NOLET’S Silver Basil Smash

  • 1.25 oz NOLET’S Silver Gin
  • 0.75 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • Basil Leaves 

Muddle basil with simple syrup and lemon juice in a mixing tin. Add NOLET’S Silver, ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a basil leaf.

NOLET’S Silver Lavender Gin + Tonic

  • 1.25 oz. NOLET’S Silver Gin
  • 0.25 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 0.25 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 2 Fresh Lavender Sprigs
  • Tonic Water

Add all ingredients, except tonic water, to a mixing glass with ice. Shake well and strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Top with tonic water. Garnish with fresh lavender sprigs. 

NOLET’S Silver Dutch 75

  • 1.5 oz. NOLET’S Silver Gin
  • 0.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Champagne

Pour lemon juice and NOLET’S Silver into a mixing glass with ice. Shake well. Strain into a Champagne flute. Carefully top with Champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.