Booze | May 19, 2021 1:12 pm

No Joke, This Ice Sphere Maker Will Revolutionize the Way You Drink

Bonus: it'll do it without breaking the bank

Wintersmiths Phantom Ice Sphere
Wintersmiths

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This is Stuff We Swear By, a series in which our editors expound on an item they use (and love) on a daily (or near-daily) basis.

Item: Wintersmiths Phantom Mini Ice Sphere Maker

Description: Developed by two brothers who were dismayed at the astronomical cost of the ice machines typically found in high-end cocktail bars, the Phantom Mini is a compact device that makes multiple crystal clear ice spheres using nothing but tap water and your home freezer.

How I use it: Water goes in Phantom, Phantom goes in freezer. In appx 24 hrs, Phantom makes beautiful orbs of ice. Orbs of ice go in glass, closely followed by booze. Relaxation ensues.

Why I swear by it:  First, a short science lesson to answer any “But why spherical ice?” questions out there: as explained by Wikipedia, a sphere “has the smallest surface area of all surfaces that enclose a given volume” — what this means, in the case of ice, is that you can get the largest piece of ice possible with as little of it touching the surrounding booze as possible. Less surface area of ice touching booze = slower rate of dilution (i.e., ice melts slower and your drink stays cold/tasty/not watered-down for longer).

Now, in the world of spherical ice, one’s options have traditionally been limited to a cheapo thing that doesn’t really work all that well (like this), or a thing that will give you the cocktail bar-quality ice you’re looking for but at an astronomical price (like this). Wintersmiths have deftly threaded the needle with a device that gets the job done with aplomb (more on that in a moment) without breaking the bank. 

Wintersmiths makes two sizes, the larger Phantom and the Phantom Mini. I use the Phantom Mini, which is about the size of a small champagne bucket and makes three large spheres and three smaller mini spheres. It’s remarkably easy to use: simply fill the metal bucket with water (I’ve found that hot water works best), snap the two pieces of molded rubber together, and lower it into the water.

Wintersmiths Phantom Mini Ice Sphere Maker
Wintersmiths

Wintersmiths Phantom Mini Ice Sphere Maker

Two things to note here: first, making sure the two molded pieces snap together properly takes a couple tries to get right — it helps if the pieces are wet, and you can sort of feel a soft “pop” as they snap into place. Second, once you lower the mold into the water, you’ll need to top off the molds with more water via little holes in the top (I use a water bottle just because it’s easier to aim than, say, a glass).

Then you just pop that sucker into the freezer (another benefit of the Phantom Mini, it doesn’t take up a ton of freezer space) and just … wait. Around 24 hours later (depending on the temp of your freezer, this also requires a bit of trial and error) you pull it out and remove the top part of the mold to reveal perfect, crystal clear spheres of ice. No BS, this was my very first attempt:

Ice sphere from a Wintersmiths Phantom Mini cocktail ice maker
Eat your heart out, David Bowie in Labyrinth.

And here’s the thing: being that these spheres are super dense and free from air bubbles, they just flat out refuse to melt. My only issue with them is that I probably wind up drinking more bourbon than I should, purely because when I finish a glass I feel the need to refill it to avoid wasting the perfectly good sphere of ice that inevitably remains.

The fact that you get three spheres (plus the minis, which aren’t quite as cool but certainly a nice bonus) in each batch means that unless you’re a total degenerate you should be stacking spare spheres every time — so when you’ve got company, you’re covered.

Additionally, it bears noting that the construction of both the bucket and mold have proved super sturdy over many, many uses, and I feel confident that my Phantom will continue to produce cloudless glacial orbs for years to come.

Here’s hoping my bourbon budget can keep up.