Make Better Cocktails With Booze-Infused Ice Cubes

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The problem with most brunch cocktails: all that damn ice. It’s ripping you off, but even worse, it’s watering down your drink, and fast if you’re on a sunny patio.

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There’s a better way to do this and that’s where chef Joseph Strelnik comes in. Strelnik recently opened Morning Collective, a brunch spot in Denver. Drinks on his brunch menu are served with special booze cubes that add flavor as they melt, rather than diluting your drink. “I’m not a mixologist; I’m a chef,” Strelnik says. “So I look at drinks and think, ‘How can I infuse flavor? We’re not being trendy, we’re just doing our thing and taking a different approach.”

The restaurant in the South Broadway neighborhood is worthy of a stop the next time you visit Denver to brewery hop or adventure. But to hold you over between now and then, you’ll want to make your own Bloody Mary ice cubes at home. (Because really, a good Bloody Mary should be savored not sucked down quickly for fear it will become diluted and separated).

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We zoned in on the Bloody Mary because it’s arguably the most affected by ice melt, which can separate the drink into layers and tamps down its spiciness. But really you could make booze cubes to go with any of your cocktails. A key is to make the cubes so they don’t exactly mimic your cocktail’s recipe, Strelnik says. That way they’re adding to the flavor as they melt. Morning Collective, for example, makes vanilla ice cubes for an “orange dreamsicle,” horchata ice for its boozy iced latte, and wildflower ice cubes that give off herbaceous notes as they melt in a strawberry lemonade. Here’s a recipe courtesy of Strelnik and his team at Morning Collective.

Bloody Mary Cubes:

  • 32 oz tomato juice, preferably organic
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 tbsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt

You can add vodka, but don’t go overboard here, Strelnik warns, because higher-proof alcohols hinder the freezing process. “You can add small amounts to the mix, but the more you add, the less stable the cube will become,” he says. We tried the recipe by adding 1/3 cup of vodka and it froze perfectly. Combine all ingredients and whisk vigorously until evenly incorporated. Pour into the ice cube tray and freeze for at least five hours. Leftover mix can be stored refrigerated for up to seven days.

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