Craft ice is a phrase that surfaced alongside the craft cocktail movement. In the simplest terms, it’s not the ice that comes out of that plastic mold you store in your freezer, or that shoots out of the door of the freezer at the push of a button. It’s ice made with care, from filtered water, frozen at sub-zero temperatures, usually completely clear, and if you are being truly fancy, hand-carved. If the question is, do you need craft ice for your at-home cocktails? The answer is, absolutely not.
Clear ice is not as hard to make as you might think — and it definitely adds to the professionalism of a home bartender’s drink (we happen to have a handy guide to making clear ice). But if you don’t have the time or freezer space (making clear ice requires freezing water inside a cooler), then the least you should do to up your cocktail game slightly is spring for large ice molds. Larger cubes melt slower than smaller ones, such as those dispensed from the freezer door, and therefore cool the drink without diluting it quickly. They’re a step in the craft ice direction, without donning an apron and opening your own speakeasy.