True Cubes

You don’t need to take a bartending class to convince your friends you’re a great mixologist. You just need, like, three cocktail recipes with more than two ingredients, and big, clear ice cubes. You all can jump into the comments to help each other with the former, but for the latter, I’m really impressed with True Cubes.

I chipped off the ice detritus with a cleaver, but a butter knife and a little bit of elbow grease probably could have done the job, as it wasn’t fully frozen. The clear ice cubes are still inside the blue mold in this photo.
Photo: Shep McAllister

True Cubes is an insulated ice mold that uses the principles of directional freezing to create four clear ice cubes. The top is open to your freezer, and the four, 2” cubic molds molds drain into a vessel at the bottom that’s heavily insulated. This means that your ice freezes from the top down, which forces air bubbles and other impurities into the bottom of the mold. After about 18-22 hours, you can remove the mold, and, in theory at least, break off the cloudy ice by hand. I think I let mine freeze for too long, because I had to cleave off the cloudy ice with a knife. Once your garbage ice is dealt with, you’ll be left to admire the four (mostly) clear cubes left on top. Mine still had a few bubbles, though some reviewers suggest that using filtered or boiled water can help; I just tested with regular tap water.

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To be clear (heh), this is pretty fussy, but it’s about more than just aesthetics; your ice can have a huge effect on your drink. One large ice cube has less exposed surface area than several smaller cubes, which means it’ll melt and dilute your drink more slowly than regular ice out of your freezer. The lack of interior air bubbles slows down the melting process as well. You know how half-melted ice is soft and chewy, and melts really quickly? That’s all because of air. Clear ice is clear because it’s solid throughout. And yes, looks cool as hell too. Let us not discount that.

Most of my cubes had a few bubbles, but far fewer than you’d get from a normal ice mold. Some suggest that using filtered or boiled water can help.
Photo: Shep McAllister

I found the process of removing the bottom, cloudy portion of the ice to be a little tedious, but the fact that there’s a porous silicone barrier between it and your precious clear cubes means it’s pretty much foolproof. I’ve owned Studio Neat’s Neat Ice Kit for a few years now, which asks you to use a chisel to cleave a half clear/half cloudy ice rectangle down the middle. While using a chisel and a wooden mallet is fun as hell, and makes me feel like I’m making a $17 cocktail at a fancy bar, my success rate in creating perfect cubes is probably well below 50%. True Cubes is a lot less fun to operate, but a lot more reliable, which matters when you only have a few cubes to work with.