We love iced drinks, and with a little creativity the ice can become a focal point rather than an afterthought. Here are a few ideas to try.
Grace clear drinks like gin and tonic or Pimms with these pretty floral ice cubes. You’ll need a range of edible flowers – borage works particularly well as the flowers are a very attractive blue, but thyme or basil flowers, marigold petals and shreds of mint and lemon balm leaves will work too. Wash the flowers and put them in a square or shaped ice cube tray. Freeze, turn out into a plastic bag and keep in the freezer until needed.
Iced coffee is delicious, but watery, diluted coffee is less so. Make some coffee ice cubes, and use them to chill your iced coffee so you get the temperature without the dilution. Make a quantity of fresh, strong, black coffee, leave it to cool then simply fill the ice cube tray and freeze.
Make the ice cubes into a component of the drink. Perfect for adding to gin and tonic, brandy sours or just mineral water or lemonade, these ice cubes taste as good as they look. With a sharp knife, cut strips of zest from a large, washed, organic lemon, trying not to take any of the pith. Repeat with two organic limes. Peel and finely chop a one inch piece of root ginger. Divide everything between the ice cube trays, top up with water and freeze.
Freeze fruit into ice cubes to serve with lemonade, soda or fruit punch. Fruits that work well are blueberries, strawberry chunks, diced melon, cubed pineapple, orange segments and apricots. Avoid anything too over-ripe or soft, such as raspberries, as they’ll disintegrate as they thaw.
Fruit juice such as apple, orange or pineapple, fruit squash or water with a few drops of mint or orange flavouring added are all perfect for adding to a fruit punch, and children can eat them as mini ice lollies as well.
Put a few tablespoons of chocolate syrup into a pan, and add at least twice the quantity of water. Gently heat together until fully combined, then cool and freeze. This also works well with other syrups such as caramel or Amaretto, and these sweet flavoured ice cubes are great for adding to iced coffee.
Ideal for a child’s birthday party or a kitsch summery lunch party are coloured ice cubes. Add a few drops of food colouring – pink works well – then freeze as usual. You could also add a slice of strawberry or cube of cucumber for a three dimensional effect.
Top icy buys
1. Giant ice cube tray, Hunter Gatherer
This outsize tray makes large 2″/4cm blocks of ice, which melt more slowly than standard-sized cubes. Made from silicon so the blocks are easy to remove, the tray costs £12.75 from Hunter Gatherer.
2. Nuts and bolts ice cube tray, Whisk Hampers
Sure to raise a smile are these nuts and bolts ice cubes, ideal for the worker in your life to enjoy in that end-of-the-day drink. £5.95, available from Whisk Hampers.
3. Gin and titronic ice cube tray, Maiden
Of all the novelty ice cube trays we’ve seen, we love this ‘gin and titronic’ set. With four icebergs and four ocean liners, your ice cubes will be the talking point of the party. £8, available from Maiden.
4. Pea pod ice tray, Red 5
This neat little pea pod ice tray makes perfectly round ice ‘cubes’, ideal for use with our recipes. £9.95, available from Red 5.
**For more great icy ideas to help you keep cool this summer – including ice cream makers, ice cube makers and ice lolly moulds – check out our Ice Cool collection on eBay.
By Sara Walker