Bored of serving your drinks on the rocks? Why not try in the rocks? This cocktail sphere will certainly surprise everyone. A hollow ice sphere is filled with the desired cocktail and drinkers get to smash it open at the table. Great presentation and a lot of fun!
This fantastic presentation was developed by molecular gastronomy Chef Grant Achatz at the Aviary for its Old Fashioned cocktail named “In The Rocks”. The customer has to break the hollow ice sphere using a specially designed sling shot that rests on the edge of the glass. It used to be done with a small hammer, but there were a few accidents with people breaking glasses.
At The Aviary, the hollow ice sphere is made using an expensive cold immersion circulator but in this post we explain you how to obtain similar results with just spherical ice molds and a regular freezer. The advantage of using an immersion circulator is that it is a lot faster and it is easier to obtain a hollow sphere with consistent ice wall thickness.
Ice ball cocktail tools
- Spherical Ice Molds
- Large Syringe with Needle
- Freezer (the colder the better)
Cocktail ingredients (or your favorite cocktail)
- 1 ½ oz grapefruit vodka
- ¾ oz Aperol
- 1 oz lemon Juice
- 1 oz orange Juice
- ½ oz honey Syrup
- 1 orange peel twist for garnish
1- Fill the spherical ice mold base with your favorite water up to the maximum fill line.
2- Close the spherical ice mold with the silicone cap.
3- Place the spherical ice mold on a rack in the coldest area of your freezer. Follow these tips to obtain an ice sphere wall that has consistent thickness all around.
- If you have a blast chiller, use it. If you don’t and you can adjust the temperature of your freezer, set it as low as possible. Use the “fast freeze” button if available.
- The coldest area in an upright freezer is usually at the top, whilst in a chest freezer it is on the compressor step or on the bottom or floor of the freezer.
- Do not place the spherical ice mold directly on the bottom of the freezer or over a flat surface. You want cold air to be able to circulate freely around the mold so place it on a rack.
- If using multiple spherical ice molds, leave a space around them for cold air to circulate and do not stack them.
- Do not overload the freezer with unfrozen items and do not open the door frequently. Keep it as cold as possible all the time.
- Flip the ice sphere mold upside down halfway through the freezing process.
4- The time you need to leave the spherical ice molds in the freezer will vary depending on how cold your freezer is. So you’ll have to test a few times until you find the optimal time to obtain an even ice wall thickness of about ¼ inch. In most freezers this could take between 2 and 3 hours.
5- Remove the ice sphere mold from the freezer and with your fingers remove the frozen water that came out from the top hole of the mold as the ice expanded in the freezer.
6- Place the ice mold under cold tap water for 30 seconds so you can remove the silicone top easily. You can use slightly warm water but be careful because if it is too warm it will crack the ice. Leave the ice ball on its base, just remove the top.
7- Using a syringe with a long needle (2” or more) create a hole in the ice sphere by rotating the needle clockwise and anti-clockwise. You can also use a drill with a thin tip. Then, using the syringe, suck all the water from inside the hollow ice sphere. If the needle is not long enough to reach the bottom, just flip the sphere upside down and pull out the needle until it is close to the hole and you should be able to remove all the water.
8-Using your hands, remove the hollow ice sphere from the base of the mold and store it in the freezer until needed. I like placing them on the small sphere silicone mold I use for spherification but you could also place them on a lint-free towel so they don’t move around.
Assemble and Serve
1- Mix all the cocktail ingredients and shake them with ice until they are really cold or make your favorite cocktail. It is important that the cocktail is really cold or it will crack the ice and the hollow ice sphere will start leaking.
2- Remove the hollow ice sphere from the freezer. The small hole you made may be closed so you’ll have to reopen it with the needle or drill.
3- Slowly fill the hollow ice sphere with the chilled cocktail using the syringe.
4- Carefully place the ice sphere in an old fashioned glass. Don’t drop it in the glass or it may crack and start leaking. You can hold the glass sideways with one hand, with the bottom slightly up. With the other hand, slide the ice sphere against the side of the glass until it reaches the bottom and then turn the glass up again. There is no need to seal the hole if it is small enough. The liquid won’t come out as air can’t get in at the same time.
5- If desired, add a garnish to the glass such as a orange peel twist.
6- Provide the diner with a muddler or small hammer to smash open the ice ball cocktail. Be careful not to break the glass!