Monday, January 14, 2008
Ice Ice Baby! Tovolo Perfect Cube vs Silicon Zone Ice Trays
Does ice really make a difference? You bet it does. Before you yawn and move on to the next blog, let me emphasize just how important ice is to making great cocktails. Ice does two things for a cocktail. It provides dilution and it also affects the temperature of the cocktail itself. Good ice is as essential to the production of quality cocktails as any other ingredient. In fact, in some cases, perhaps more so. Have you ever been to one of those bar where they serve their cocktails over shaved ice and the drink has become watery before you even pick it up? When a drink is on the rocks, it ought to stay on the rocks, at least for the length of time it takes you to consume your cocktail. Both of these ice cube trays on the market try to meet the need for quality cocktail ice. One does the job admirably, while the other is just too small. The Tovolo Perfect Cube tray (in red below), makes cubes that are 1 1/2 inches by 1 3/4 inches by my measurements, meaning that although its not a perfect cube, it does produce a nice dense cube. One important note here is that the bigger a cube is, the slower the rate of dilution that occurs. I actually took a pretty long nap while I had a glass of water filled with Tovolo cubes over the weekend and when I woke up, there were still rocks in the glass.
Design wise, there isn't much to recommend about the Tovolo. Made of silicon, removing the cubes can be a bit of a pain, but there is also no rim for excess water, meaning that the trip from sink to freezer can be perilous, especially after a couple of cocktails. The Tovolo wins my recommendation simply because it produces a larger, more satisfying cube of ice.
Silicone Zone's ice tray (pictured in orange below) is far better designed, featuring a lip to hold excess water, and seemingly easier to remove the cubes from the tray. The ease of removal of the cubes may simply be due to the size of the cubes and not a design factor. While clearly a better designed and more consumer friendly product, the Silicone Zone ice try has one fatal flaw. It produces cubes a mere 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch. Yes they are solid little cubes, but this is the equivalent of the chiclet of the ice cube world, too small to gain any real pleasure out of and a risk for diluting cocktails much faster. My criticisms of the Silicone Zone's dimunitive cubes aside, however, I would reach for these cubes if I was shaking a cocktail to serve up. I've shaken both the Tovolo cubes (quite an experience, it puts a lot more strain on the forearm but does make a nice cocktail) and the Silicone Zone cubes, and I appreciate the faster rate of dilution with the smaller cubes, as they won't be saying in the cocktail.
In the end, neither is a perfect product, but both can be useful to the home mixologist. My recommendation is to buy the Tovolo tray as more drinks are served on the rocks at home. Someday perhaps, Tovolo will redesign their tray or Silicone Zone will increase the size of their cubes, but until then either choice is an imperfect one.