Not vanilla ice

In this edition of our monthly Gadget column, we examine ice gadgets.

Sphere Ice Molds

These days, gourmands are reinventing every aspect of the food we eat and the libations we drink, with the latest trend in our culinary climate bringing a gourmet ice storm. When it comes time to ice your favorite summer drinks, Kool-Aid, iced tea, beer—yes, some people ice their beer—the public is no longer content with simple ice cube molds. The latest icy gadgets are kicking things up a notch, with the first example thinking outside the cube. Tovolo’s Sphere Ice Molds ditch the tesseract for a spherical shape. Aside from looking cool, the sphere has a lower surface area than a cube, so it melts slower. When you’re drinking hard liquor, a slower melting process helps ensure that the drink doesn’t become too diluted before you’re done downing that aqua vitae. The Tovolo molds come in a two-pack and create 2.5-inch spheres, where one sphere is adequate for one drink. The process is simple—fill, seal, freeze—and the $11 price tag isn’t unreasonable for the quality of the materials.

Polar Ice Tray

While the internal defects within the ice can create a nice pattern, ice from your refrigerator’s icemaker or from the tap may also be cloudy or full of minerals that provide an off taste. You can create crystal clear and tasteless ice by boiling filtered, bottle water, then freezing it, or you could skip those steps and use the Polar Ice Tray. The four-piece gadget places two trays and an optional mold into a large base. The bottom tray is ventilated, which allows the ice to freeze from the top down, as lakes do in nature. As it freezes from the top down, the air and impurities compress down to the very bottom. You can shave off the cloudy impurities, and you’re left with a crystal-clear cube, triangle or natural rock formation—depending on the mold used. About four times the size of a normal ice cube, each mold retails for $19, rather steep for one mold, but the tech is ingenious and the end product adds a special splash to the drink. Skip the colas and iced teas with this mold and go straight for a 14-year Oban.

Whisky Stones

Sometimes, water doesn’t make the best ice cubes; stone does. Created from soapstone, Whisky Stones are food grade, cube-shaped stones that chill in the freezer and retain their low temperature when you add a few to a drink. Since there’s no moisture, your drinks—say, a nice Scotch—have no chance of dilution and the stones won’t add any flavors to the drink. Remove from the drink, rinse, dry and re-freeze, and you’re all set. I wouldn’t recommend using them in any artificially colored beverages as they tend to leech some color, but they’re perfect for bringing whisky to an optimum temperature without the risk of killing any of the flavors. Seven stones cost $20. Though it’s the most expensive selection here, Teroforma’s attempt to bring new meaning to the phrase, “on the rocks,” is worth the party conversation starter alone. A great blend of innovation, geology and geeky goodness, Whisky Stones suggest that maybe the technological advances of the Stone Age are making a comeback.