8-for-Tuesday: Orbie Silicone Ice Molds

  • You get two 4-packs for a total of eight silicone molds that make round ice spheres 3" in diameter
  • That’s “ice” as in “frozen water”
  • That’s “sphere” as in “a perfectly round three-dimensional object”
  • Really not a lot else to say here except why does Amazon’s only photo for this product show a ball of ice cream?
  • Model: ORB01-4PK (we guess that hyphen is so nobody mistakes this for a 14-pack? we guess…?)
see more product specs

Cheers to Cheapskates

You like a good, stiff drink with some interesting flavors. But you’re turned off by the craft cocktail culture’s persnickety perfectionism, snobbery, and eye-watering costs.

None of those reasons are enough to deny yourself the civilizing good cheer of a well-made cocktail. Your budget doesn’t have to be an obstacle if you can find a good deal on some fancy ice molds (ahem), and follow these simple tips:

Cardamaro, the wine-based amaro: Amari are the bitter Italian liqueurs like Campari, Aperol, and Fernet Branca. One branch of that family tree consists of artichoke-based amari like Cynar and Carciofo. Cardamaro fits in that family because its flavor comes from the cardoon, a relative of the artichoke (not on cardamom as the name might suggest). But it’s a black sheep because it’s based on wine, not liquor. And wine is taxed at a much lower rate than liquor. So after taxes, bottle of Cardamaro can cost two-third or even half as much as a bottle of Campari or Cynar.

It doesn’t taste like any artichoke we’ve ever had, either: it’s got a little of that bitter amaro edge but the wine base gives it a richer, vermouth-like flavor. You can substitute Cardamaro for the Campari in a Negroni or the vermouth in a Manhattan, experiment with it in your own creations, drink it on the rocks straight or with soda, and - equally important when you’re serving to guests - talk about it. Whether you want to tell them a bottle only runs around $20 is up to you.

Make your own limoncello: This after-dinner digestif is usually served freezing cold, but it’s also great to add a lemony shine cocktails. And it’s ridiculously easy to make limoncello yourself: you basically mix lemon peels, sugar, and a high-proof spirit, let it sit, and enjoy. You can also try a more complicated method where the lemon peels are suspended above the alcohol instead of floating in it. Either way, you’ll get a lot of sweet limoncello and some even sweeter cocktail cred, for the price of a bottle of vodka and some lemons.

Go beyond maraschino cherries: The way to be indulgent on a budget is to spend carefully for most things so you can go over-the-top on one thing. If you drink Manhattans or Old-Fashioneds, that thing should be cherries. The artificial visual pop and syrupy flavor of maraschino cherries has its place, but nothing makes a ho-hum cocktail feel luxe like a fancy cherry, like an amarena or a bing. A jar of nice cherries only costs a few more bucks than a jar of generic maraschinos, and is worth every penny. Or those of you who were inspired by the limoncello project can also make your own maraschino cherries.

Make perfect twists with a channel knife: Another little detail that makes cocktails feel crafted is perfect garnish twists. The thing you need for that is called a channel knife. For six bucks and change, you can easily cut uniform, pith-free twists from lemon, lime, or orange peels. It beats paying premium prices so some bartender can do it for you.

Trader Joe’s Bourbon: We know, we know, it sounds like a bad joke. But hang on a minute. Trader Joe’s Bourbon bottled by the Buffalo Trace people, at the same distillery where they make 1792 Ridgemont Reserve. We can’t say it’s their best stuff, but it has some pedigree, at least. And despite being half the price of Buffalo Trace (or Maker’s Mark or whatever), it doesn’t taste half bad, especially in cocktails. Save the better stuff for company - TJ’s bourbon will serve just fine for an evening drink or two around the house.

Great balls of ice: Finally, there’s the ice. Using one gigunda piece of ice instead of three or four regular ones adds one more glamorous touch for literally no extra expense. These silicone ice molds make a sphere about 3" in diameter, and you get eight of them for less than you’d pay for a single fancy cocktail at a bar.

If you’ve got the budget to stock a world-class home bar, please do and invite us over often. But we wouldn’t turn up our noses at an invitation to this budget bar, either. Pour us drinks, is what we’re saying.

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