Does Your Home Bar Really Need a Clear Ice Machine?

After testing out a new (and quite magical) ice maker from Klaris, the answer remains cloudy

June 12, 2024 3:00 pm
Klaris clear ice machine with a block of clear ice to the side
Your love of the Klaris ice machine will vary depending on your appreciation of clear ice.

“This is stupid.”

My partner has an opinion on clear ice. She stated it several times after I used Klaris, a clear ice maker that delivers exactly what it promises: oversized, crystal-clear ice cubes and Collins-shaped ice. Besides taking up a fair amount of space and upwards of 14 hours to create just four clear cubes, my S.O. has a larger complaint about the clear ice phenomenon. “It doesn’t make your drink taste better,” she argues.

This, of course, is not actually true — clear ice cubes don’t make carbonated drinks fizz as much as cloudy ice does, notes Wirecutter, so your fizzy drinks last longer (and yes, taste better). And clear ice does convincingly offer an aesthetic you rarely see outside of high-end cocktail bars.

“I’d pay more for a cocktail if it had clear ice,” my editor argues a few weeks later as we’re discussing this clear ice phenomenon. So clearly (ha), there are two sides to this argument.

This Is the Ultimate Guide to Clear Ice
“The Ice Book” makes transparency easy for home bartenders

To cool things off (again, ha), I spoke to Chase Haider, Founder and CEO (and currently the only employee) of Klaris, to see why he started a clear ice maker company after other similarly-minded devices on the home market failed.

“I was obsessed with 3-D printing,” Haider says, who worked at MakerBot for a few years. “And I always knew I wanted to do my own thing one day. I just got into clear ice as a hobby and started buying machines off Amazon and tearing them apart to see how they worked.”

Klaris machine
The Klaris ice maker is about the size of an espresso machine.
Kirk Miller

Haider’s hobby started after talking to a bartender and asking them where they get their clear ice. A lot of hospitality venues use something called a Clineball machine, which is “like a big bathtub, and there’s a cold plate at the bottom,” Haider says. “And there’s a pump that circulates water.”

Which is cool (I’ll stop with the puns, sorry), but those machines make massive, 3’ x 5’ x 2’ blocks of clear ice during a few days’ time, and they require saws to cut the ice into drinkable shapes. “I thought, how do I learn from this directional freezing and condense it into a much smaller scale — like something that would fit on a countertop?,” Haider says.

Now, there are cheaper ways to make clear ice beyond buying a Klaris or working with a commercial ice venture. In a few clicks, you can pick up some inexpensive silicone molds that can make a few clear cubes at a time. And there’s Camper English’s recent book on ice, which offers plenty of DIY clear ice hacks (you’ll want a cooler, to start, plus a lot of space and patience). 

But the Klaris is superior because it’s a dedicated machine — no different than, say, a SodaStream or an espresso maker. While it admittedly takes up space (and therefore draws the ire of your roommate), it’s also a set-it-and-forget device. You fill up silicone trays with water, stick the tray in the machine, press the one button and come back in eight to 12 hours (or, in our case, around 13 to 14 hours). Voila, four perfect clear cubes. You can even set the Klaris to start at different times to schedule out your ice-making.

Collins and cube ice from the Klaris machine
My first attempt at making ice in the Klaris. Later attempts proved more successful.

A few tips: never open the machine while in use, or you’ll probably end up with just water after a half day’s wait (opening the lid messes with a small sensor hanging down from the top, which is delicate and there to figure out minute changes in temperature). When the ice is ready, wait about two minutes so it can be released more easily from the tray — flip the tray over and gently push down on the bottom. And use either a plastic bag or Klaris’s new ice packs to store your cubes.

Haider says ice from Klaris has fewer impurities, tastes better and will melt slower, which for some people are debatable claims. I do think making a drink look better can’t hurt the final process, and the cubes did take a rather long time to melt (I admittedly didn’t test them against non-clear cubes of a similar size). I will say that just putting extra care into the ice — which is a major part of creating many great cocktails — creates an overall superior drinking experience. 

Haider himself has found practical uses for the machine outside of boozy tipples. “I actually don’t drink that much,” he says. “I use the Collins ice in my iced coffee. If you were using pebbled ice or something, that would dilute your drink in like two minutes.” 

At the end of the day, your love of clear ice — for whatever reason — can justify a dedicated appliance. And Klaris offers the simplest solution for now, and one I certainly wouldn’t call stupid.


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