Cocktails are all about flavor. But there's one indispensible cocktail ingredient that doesn't add much flavor: Ice. It's essential to chill cocktails down, and to provide just a bit of dilution; the little bit of melted water created when you shake or stir a drink helps to integrate strong flavors, slightly temper the alcohol, and bring the whole cocktail together.
But what if ice could do more than just bring down the temperature? Recently, bartenders have started to play around with flavored ice -- actually integrating other ingredients into their ice cubes, so that as the ice melts, new flavors emerge within the cocktail.
At New York's Quality Eats West Village, Upper East Side, and NoMad locations you'll find the Unicow, a summer cocktail with vodka, pineapple, and St-Germain -- over a bright pink and blue-striped ice cube, made from Pressed Juicery’s Pink & Blue Lemonades. Brightly colored superfoods like spirulina, pitaya, camu camu, and goji berry introduce the eye-catching color, and the flavors of the lemonades emerge more and more as the customer sips their gorgeous cocktail.
At Oran Mor in Nantucket, MA, the "Flaming Daisy" takes another route. While the tequila-based cocktail itself is essentially a margarita, the large ice cube it's served over contains Fresno chile puree -- so that as the drink sits, it gets spicier and spicier.
Other bars have experimented with Campari ice cubes, for a gorgeous bright red pop of color, and such that a drink gets more bitter as it melts; or cucumber-lemon ice cubes, allowing a drink to become even more refreshing.
Plain old frozen water? Well, that's not very imaginative, is it...