The Trick To Making Fancy Cocktail Ice Without A Silicone Mold

When it comes to making cocktails at home, there is one ingredient that is too often overlooked when stocking the bar: ice. This single seemingly simple element can have a significant impact on the overall drink, influencing everything from temperature to taste to appearance. Fortunately, you do not need fancy tools to make a fancy cocktail. In fact, there is one ordinary (yet unexpected) piece of equipment that you probably already have in your kitchen that can transform cocktail hour: a muffin tin.


Holiday cocktail ice cubes 🧊🎄

♬ Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson

You have probably seen big, beautiful ice cubes filled with fruits, herbs, and other add-ins on social media or at your local bar — and maybe you have even contemplated getting some silicone molds expressly for the purpose of making them, but you don't need anything new to dazzle guests or do something a little special just for yourself. And best of all, the large blocks of ice are slower to melt than smaller cubes, which is perfect for a pitcher or individual servings of a drink you don't want diluted.

How to use your muffin tin to better your beverages

A muffin tin can make so much more than just baked goods. When you are ready to repurpose yours for the sake of bettering your boozy beverages, the key is to prepare yourself well in advance of cocktail hour. It takes several hours for water to transform into ice, so it is best if you start the process the day before and allow your ice cubes to solidify overnight. You will also want to make sure you have glasses that will accommodate large round ice cubes. If not, you can place the ice in a pitcher or punch bowl.

To start, gather the ingredients that you want to use to fill your ice cube tray. Fruits, such as citrus and berries, and herbs work especially well — just make sure everything is washed well and safe to consume. Place these in the spaces of the tray intended for muffins. (No need to use any paper liners or grease the pan — no one wants oily ice, after all.) Fill each with water about three-quarters of the way to the top. Place the tray carefully in the freezer and enjoy once the water is fully frozen. If your cubes stick, simply let the tray warm up a bit. As the ice starts to melt, the cubes will come out.

Get creative with your flavors and fillings

You can experiment with your muffin tin to make ice for cocktails, mocktails, and iced drinks of all kinds. Keep in mind how the ingredients that you float in your ice cubes will affect the overall taste and appearance of your drink. Get creative with a mix of flavors, colors, and shapes that can match a specific holiday, a party theme, or season.

For example, in the heat of summer, try freezing blueberries and mint leaves for an extra refreshing lemonade. When autumn rolls around, you might enjoy adding cranberries, orange slices, and rosemary into an old-fashioned to warm up and slow down as the days grow shorter. All of the add-ins need to be naturally small (like pomegranate seeds) or cut down to size (like cubed kiwi). When it comes to herbs, you may want to leave some sprigs intact, so that they float like a garnish as the ice melts. 

Aim for about two or three ingredients in your ice cube tray for a fun pop of colors without too many clashing flavors. You can also try swapping out the water for other liquids. Try flavored ice cubes made with juice, tea, or even bone broth with whole spices for a more complex drink.