Japanese Hard Ball

The Japanese are as meticulous with their cocktails as they are with every other aspect of food and drink. It’s not enough to select just the right whiskey and pour it into just the right glass. They also require just the right ice to go with it. Why? Because, besides making drinks cold, ice adds a bit of water and helps bring a cocktail into balance. It all comes down to surface area. Too-small cubes melt too quickly, resulting in watery, tepid cocktails. But too big can also be a problem if you’re shaking a drink or stirring up something like a mint julep, because there’s not enough surface area to quickly chill ingredients. That’s why this new generation of classic American bars takes such pride in matching cocktails with ice—dense, two-inch square cubes for rocks drinks, long cubes perfectly sized for a Collins glass and the like. Some cut the requisite cube from a block while customers watch. And then there are the bartenders of Japan. According to the April 2010 issue of Food Arts, bartenders there place as much emphasis on the overall visual impact of a cocktail as they do its taste. Should someone order a Suntory Yamazaki single malt on the rocks, the bartender will hand-carve a large, polished ball of ice to go with it. I’m not about to try that at home, which is why I love the ice tray I found in the Museum of Modern Art’s web store. The cubes are large, dense and perfectly sized for an old fashioned glass. Add a finger or two of whiskey, and you’ve got your very own work of art.

Spherical Ice Tray Set(Image courtesy of MoMA)

~ by fooddrinklife on May 19, 2010.

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