August 8, 2013
Posted by Kevin Sharkey
As you all know, I love to host dinner parties and small gatherings, especially in the summer. Fresh fruit and vegetables make for easy and delicious recipes, and the later sunset makes people more likely to stay out after work.
The only downside? Turning your oven on with sweltering temperatures outside. I can't bare even to think of baking, roasting, or broiling anything when it's this hot out. Instead, I like to focus on cooling ingredients and recipes (like watermelon and popsicles!) as well as refreshing drinks when I'm entertaining during the summer months. As a result, this summer I have become completely obsessed with finding new ways to use the simplest possible ingredient: ice!
Water is the easiest ingredient to come by, and with just a few other accoutrements, you can make an impressive (and cold) display for your friends without heating up your apartment. Check out some of my favorite tips and tricks for transforming an often-overlooked party essential.
1 To make your drink flavorful and attractive, freeze berries or herbs in a traditional ice mold before adding to lemonade, a cocktail, or simple water. My favorites are raspberries, pomegranate seeds, basil or mint.
2 A nice ice bucket is essential for your bar cart, and I love the smooth, rounded edges of this one from Martha's Macy's collection. $40, macys.com
3 One of Martha's favorite tricks is to freeze full water balloons and use them in an ice bucket to keep drinks cold. Take that one step further by adding a bit of food coloring when you fill the balloons. Once they're frozen, cut off the balloon for colorful, oversized ice cubes.
4 For impressive-looking cocktails, grab a giant ice cube tray. The cubes take longer to melt, and they look fantastic. $8.50, amazon.com
5 This ice crusher is perfect for a hot day. Just churn crushed ice straight into your glass and enjoy either on its own, or with a little grenadine, lemonade, or maple syrup for a cool refreshment. $42, casa.com
6 Another great tip from Martha: thinly slice lemons, limes, and oranges, and layer in a muffin tin. Fill tins with water and freeze. Perfect for a big punch bowl!
7 Blend fresh fruit with a bit of juice or lemonade and add straight to your ice cube tray. A perfect addition to your drink, or delicious on their own. As they melt, they'll turn your drink to a colorful fruity concoction!
8 Ice molds come in all shapes and sizes, from robots to hearts and everything in between. I think this geometric jewel mold makes for an interesting pick. $8, homewetbar.com
9 For brunch, blend together almond or coconut milk with some sugar and a vanilla bean and freeze for a sweet addition to iced coffee. For mocha fans, try it with chocolate milk.
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