The Ice Ball Press

A couple of months ago (my the time flies), when I was spending the month on Whiskey, I went on a little bit of an ice sidetrack.  Truthfully, the sidetrack hasn’t stopped and I’ve become rather obsessed with having the perfect ice for cocktails.  It first started with having perfectly clear ice which I was mildly successful at making in a large block.  Then I moved into clear ice balls and spent an ungodly amount of time trying to make them.  I failed.  Time after time, technique after technique, I just couldn’t get it right.  I tried directional freezing, different molds, different temperatures, freezing the molds in a solid block of ice, etc, etc, etc.  Nothing worked.  The balls were always cloudy so I eventually just gave up.  Toward the end of my ice ball research I came upon what’s commonly called an ice ball press.  If you have a money tree in your backyard – you might be tempted to buy something like this.  Unfortunately, that’s an expense that I couldn’t even dream of beginning to justify despite it being an interesting premise.

Ice ball presses work like this.  They are machined out of solid aluminum and each side of the mold makes up half of a sphere.  When I first saw them I thought that they maybe plugged into the wall and heated up to melt the ice.  Turns out thats not the case at all.  Aluminum has the highest thermal conductivity of any non-precious metal.   This means that it can quickly melt the ice.  The bottom line is that you can melt a solid block of ice into a perfect sphere in rather short order with the aluminum only being room temperature.  Pretty crazy right?

A month or two ago I was talking to my brother about it and showing him how it worked.  I mean – don’t get me wrong, the thing is cool, but it’s also sort of gimmick with that kind of price tag associated with it.  He also thought it was cool but we agree’d it was far too costly to own.  Fast forward a month and next time I meet him he presents me with this!

That’s right – he made me one.  How?  Well – he’s a talented guy and a machinist so he just did some research, bought some aluminum, and made it.  He spent some time explaining it to me but to be honest I was just so amazed the entire time he was talking that I didn’t comprehend most of it.  At any rate – if you have an awesome sibling who is super talented you can probably have one yourself 🙂

So how does it work?  You start with a solid block of clear ice at least 3″x3″ since the ball it makes it 2.75″…

Then all you do is take the top of the press, set the ice in, and put the top back on and watch it work…

The whole process took about 2 minutes to complete and the mold was shedding water like crazy the entire time.   When the two halves fully meet you take the top of and you have a perfect ice ball…

Im not sure if you can tell – but the ice ball is sitting in the bottom half of the mold.  You can barely see it.  Here’s a better picture of it in a glass…

Crazy right?  I mean – if you’re looking for perfect ice go no further.  I can’t get over how perfect the sphere is and how well the mold works.  The tolerances are insanely perfect.  Plus it’s extra cool because its hand made 🙂

So there you have it.  A perfect chunk of ice like that deserves a perfect cocktail…

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