The 23-Ingredient Ice Cube

Steve Hellerstein

While we’re usually averse to frozen cocktails — mostly because of their sugary, hangover-y ingredients — there’s one we think belongs in your summer rotation. The Old Fashioned Cube at Xixa in Brooklyn takes every non-booze ingredient in a spicy, citrusy cocktail, and freezes it in a big ice cube. When you drop the cube into a couple ounces of alcohol — the team at Xixa recommends tequila or mezcal, since the flavors here go best with agave spirits — and give the cube a little time to melt, the drink changes with every passing minute, until you have a progressively more-interesting drink. It’s a crowd-pleaser — and what’s more, having a tray of these in your freezer will make you look like you actually know something about cocktails at your next party.


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Fair warning: This isn’t some three-ingredient child’s play. Xixa’s Old Fashioned Cubes require over 20 ingredients — but oh man, it’s worth it. And fortunately, a lot of the ingredients should already be in your spice cabinet. Here’s what you’ll need:


To build cubes:

  • large ice cube tray
  • 1 arbol chili
  • 1 large orange peel

Cube ingredients:

  • 35 oz sugar
  • 9 oz molasses
  • 8 oz honey
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tbs allspice
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs star anise
  • 1 tbs ancho chili powder
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs ginger powder
  • 1 tbs coriander seeds
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 10 pieces of cloves
  • 5 gr wormwood herb
  • 3.5 qts water
  • 3 oranges plus more for garnish
  • 3 limes
  • 3 grapefruits
  • arbol chilies for garnish


  1. Peel citrus fruits first and then juice.
  2. Keep 600g of juice, save the rest.
  3. Place 1 quart of water with all other ingredients together (including citrus peels and juice) in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add 2.5 quarts of water.
  6. Pass through chinois (or another fine strainer), keeping only the liquid.
  7. Let cool.
  8. Place arbol chili and orange peel in cube tray.
  9. Pour 7/8 of mixture in tray (almost to the top).
  10. Freeze overnight.

Serving: Place in an old-fashioned glass, pour 2oz of your spirit into the glass, and serve.


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