How to make clear ice

Presentation is key when it comes to food and drinks, and a crystal clear ice cube elevates the experience of drinking a finely crafted cocktail. Also, clear ice melts slower. Large ice cubes alone are slower melting than smaller cubes, resulting in less drink dilution. Clear ice melts even slower than its cloudy counterpart because the purer the ice, the slower it will melt.

Clear ice for cocktails
Finally, ever feel like you can taste your freezer with the last few sips? You’re actually tasting the flavours and impurities within the oxygen trapped in the ice, rendering it cloudy. Clear ice is free from impurities and off-flavours.

So, how do you make perfectly clear ice? Simply follow these steps:

Step 1

Using a small insulated cooler / chilly-bin that can fit in your freezer, fill with water and remove the lid and freeze for 18 - 24 hours. The block of ice will not be 100% frozen at the bottom, which is what we want.

cooler full of ice

Step 2

Remove the cooler from the freezer and flip upside down on a cutting board. The ice will eventually release from the sides and fall out in about 10 minutes or immediately.

Step 3

In most cases, the ice block will be half-frozen with a water bubble covering the top (what was the bottom when in the cooler). You may need to break / cut off the top half of the ice that is semi frozen.

Cut off partially frozen ice

Step 4

Cut the ice into cubes or columns (for highballs). This is less about cutting and more about scoring the ice so that it snaps off. Here’s what to do:

  1. Carefully hold the ice with a towel or oven mitt.
  2. Cut out a column of ice by lightly scoring the top of the ice with a serrated knife, sliding the knife back and forth until a strip of the ice snaps off.
  3. Use the same scoring method to cut the strip into cubes.

Cutting (scoring) ice

Optionally, you can carefully shape the clear ice chunks with an ice pick, an ice pick isn’t required, but it does make for beautifully shaped cubes.

How to store the ice

Store any ice you’re not planning to use immediately in the freezer in a closed container. Importantly, before using the frozen ice in a drink, allow the ice cube to sit at room temperature to temper it for 2 minutes. This prevents your beautiful clear ice from cracking, and also allows any freezer burn to melt off of the ice.

This process of making clear ice is called the directional method and is thanks to the tireless research of Camper English of

Beautiful clear ice