I got the chance recently to test out the Arctic Chill Ice Ball Maker, made out of BPA-free silicone and designed to create a sphere of ice that is somewhere between a regulation tennis ball and racquetball in size. Such ice balls have become quite trendy in the modern mixology movement, as they allow a drink to stay cool without watering down the beverage.
It all has to do with surface area. If you want something to get really cold really fast (and then get watered down quickly), use a lot of tiny pieces of ice. The heat transfer will happen quickly, but so will the dilution. It's why many cocktails are shaken quickly and then strained--to serve them with all those little ice chips would result in an increasingly bland cocktail. If you're going to be sipping on an expensive Bourbon for half an hour, then you want a much slower melt. This is why frozen margaritas are terrible to begin with and only get worse as they achieve equilibrium with room temperature.
Arctic Chill Ice Ball Maker
$20/set of four
I made multiple ice balls over the course of a week, enjoying them with whiskey (pictured above), cocktails, and even just plain iced tea (yes, putting three or four of these in a pitcher of tea or juice is great). In advance of an event or cocktail party, you can make a bunch of them and then keep them in a zip-top plastic bag in the freezer.
The device holds approximately 125mL of water, though remember that water expands when it turns into ice at a ratio of roughly 9%. If you have ever worked in a lab with pipettes, then you can precisely fill it with 114mL of water and achieve a perfect sphere. In my less-scientific testing, I filled it up, squeezed out a bit, and let it freeze. Any excess will form a nipple on top of the ice ball, which you can easily snap off or perhaps leave on for the amusement factor.
As someone whose internal thermostat tends to run pretty hot, I'm looking forward to using these all summer long for pitchers of lemonade and the big insulated mugs of ice water that I rely on to keep hydrated in our tropical climate. I was a little skeptical of the artisan ice ball trend when I first heard about it years ago (trained mixologists would shape and form spheres from ice blocks), but having actually tried it, I can see the benefits and using a silicone mold is dead simple.
Note: This product was provided as a sample for review.