Review – Wintersmiths Ice Baller Kit
Let’s imagine for a moment that you’ve fancied yourself an Old Fashioned. You’ve carefully stirred together your preferred spirit with just the right amount of sugar syrup and a few dashes of your favourite bitters. You’ve taken your time and tasted your drink as you stirred it, stopping when it reached that perfect balance of temperature and dilution. You’ve then poured it into your preferred rocks glass either with the ice with which it was stirred in the traditional manner, or maybe over fresh ice. You’ve garnished it with your preferred twist of citrus zest and sat back in the comfort of your favourite chair to sip and savour this sublime creation. You’d like to take your time, only you can’t, because you know that too soon the ice will have melted sufficiently to dilute your libation more than you wished it to, and every minute that passes nibbles away at the balance you worked for, edging ever nearer booze-flavoured bittered sugar water.
The problem is maths. If you’re drinking your old-fashioned over ice cubes, even if you’ve stuffed the glass full to the brim to maximise ice mass, the relatively large surface area means that ice-meltage is soon to become your mortal enemy. Others such as Alcademics have written much more expertly on the subject that I shall attempt to, but in short what you need is as big a mass of ice with as small a surface area as possible. Handily, there’s already a shape for that and it’s called a sphere.
If you were an ice-carving ninja you’d carve yourself a sphere from a large block, but assuming you’re not, what you need is a devise to make one for you. There are plenty on the market, many cheap as chips. Many also have one significant problem; the resulting ball is cloudy. Now from a practical perspective this has minimal impact, the sphere will still do its job of keeping your luscious Old Fashioned cold with minimal dilution, but what if the sphere was perfectly clear, now that would be cool. The trouble with ice is that as it freezes, so the impurities and air get trapped inside, creating cloudiness. To stop this happening when making a single sphere you need to make the ice freeze only from one direction, thus ‘pushing’ said cloudy-making bits to one end. The aforementioned Alcademics has presented a few ways of doing this, but the Wintersmiths Ice Baller Kit is the first I’ve come across that claims to do the job in a very easy-peasy fashion. It is essentially a directional-freezing device, which is best explained via the video below.
In practice it does exactly what it says it does. Which you’d want really, for this isn’t a cheap piece of kit. Hasty preparation will result in a little trapped air, which sneaks it’s way to the top of the sphere during freezing and results in a small flat area. It’s a minor issue and one that is sorted by developing the perfect air-removing swirl technique. What the video doesn’t show is that if you leave the contraption for longer than the minimum 24hrs, you get a second entirely clear hockey-puck shaped block of ice ready to be chipped off and used. These are rather convenient to split in two and use to shake cocktails with. There is something immensely satisfying about drinking a cocktail over a perfectly clear, perfectly spherical ice ball. It’s probably a primitive caveman thing or something but whatever the reason, I won’t be returning to my cloudy-ice days.
The Wintersmiths Ice Baller Kit produces perfectly clear, perfectly spherical ice balls from the comfort of your home freezer. That’s cool, very very cool.
The Wintersmiths Ice Baller is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.