December 18, 2014
Large orbs of botanicals, fresh juices, herbs, bitters and alcohol melting slowly into a cocktail that changes with every sip—welcome to the world of spherical cocktails. While more and more bars have been curating ice programs to complement their cocktails with particular cuts of ice, select bartenders are getting increasingly experimental with the contents of their frozen shapes. This new technique is like an everlasting Gobstopper of a cocktail that slowly changes as you sip. These three bars are the game-changers when it comes to spherical ice cocktails.
At Swift’s Attic in Austin, bar manager Jeff Hammett has created an entire ice ball menu. His spheres contain fruits, zests, spices and liqueurs, topped with only a single accompanying spirit. “At first, as you can imagine, they start off a bit boozy,” Hammett says. “But as the ball melts, the more intricate flavors sneak out.”
The Apple Turnover ice sphere is packed with Granny Smith apples, clove, cardamom, ginger syrup and spiced liqueur, then topped with Mount Gay Extra Old. The Stage Name’s sphere contains housemade sage syrup and lavender bitters, with Waterloo Barrel Reserve gin as the starring spirit.
If all that sounds good to you, you can get into the spherical cocktail game at home. Although there are some seriously fancy ice ball press kits out there, you can make them easily and inexpensively with a set of silicone molds like the ones made by Tovolo.
We recommend giving it a try this season. A round of spherical cocktails during a holiday dinner is guaranteed to impress your friends and confuse the heck out of your in-laws.
A sphere from Swift's Attic. Photo © Natalie Paramore