Fancy Ice Cubes made from Fruit, Juice, and/or Liqueur
Although these ice cubes take almost no effort, the end product is spectacularly impressive and instantly makes any drink festive. An added bonus is that as the ice melts, it releases its flavors so the cocktail subtly changes and the drinks don’t get watered down (especially appreciated in hot weather).
Pour any fruit juice into an ice cube tray, then add whole or cut fresh or frozen fruit such as grapes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberry slices, kumquats, small chunks of apple, cantaloupe, watermelon, tiny pyramids cut from citrus, curls of citrus peel, mint or other fresh herbs, and freeze. To keep fruit from floating to the top, fill trays only half full, then add fruit and freeze until the fruit is stuck in the cube, then fill trays the rest of the way and freeze solid.
One teaspoon (or less) of liqueur per cube can be added to the juice before freezing for more depth of flavor, but don’t add too much or the ice won’t freeze solid. Imagination is your only limit; below are some of my favorite combinations:
Orange, tangerine, or grapefruit juice without pulp with a whole kumquat or a tiny pyramid cut from any citrus plus orange liqueur (Cointreau, Curacao, Grand Marnier); you may add a squeeze of lime for a more complex flavor. These are great for cocktails, but not wine—to chill and jazz up wine for a summer party, see Cran-Raspberry or Raspberry ice below.
Cranberry-Raspberry or Cran-Apple Ice
Pour cran-raspberry or cran-apple juice into ice trays; add something pretty like several pomegranate seeds, blackberries, a whole small strawberry, or two raspberries to each cube; freeze solid (frozen fruit may be substituted for fresh)
Raspberry juice with 1 or 2 raspberries plus raspberry liqueur (Chambord, Framboise, DeKuyper) or black currant liqueur (Crème de Cassis)
Cocktail Glass Decorations
· Whole small pieces of fruit and slices or wedges from fruits and vegetables can be cut so it will sit securely on the rim of a glass (cut a wedge from one edge just to the center). Try: star fruit, strawberries, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, cucumber rounds, cantaloupe or watermelon, zucchini or yellow squash
· Spirals cut from fruit or vegetables to curl over the rim
· Colorful straws or mini paper umbrellas
· Small thin bamboo skewers stacked with alternating bits of whatever you like: olives, cocktail onions, marinated mushrooms, whole or cut fruit, small shrimp, bay scallops, oysters, cherry tomatoes
· Use long sprigs of stiff herbs as stirrers, e.g. rosemary or lavender stalks
· Add strips of vegetables, herbs, or fruit that are long enough to poke out the top or drape over the edge