Cool Idea: Flavored Ice Cubes
It’s easy to get a little fancy with your ice and dress any summertime drink in style and extra flavor.
Little things mean a lot. Something as simple as adding a few special ice cubes to an ordinary summertime beverage can make a backyard cookout feel like an extra-special occasion. Want to try it? Myrna Adolfo, beverage director on the Panera Bread® Culinary Team, shares her secrets for taking summertime sippers to the next level—quickly and easily.
Jazz up your tea
Myrna’s favorite summertime beverage is iced tea. “I always have two pitchers of iced tea in my refrigerator: one that’s a cold infusion and one that’s ready to drink,” she says. Myrna makes the cold infusion simply by adding tea bags to a pitcher of cold water and putting it into the refrigerator overnight. For extra flavor, add in a handful of frozen fruit-juice cubes when you’re ready to serve. “Acai, cranberry, or pomegranate juice cubes all have just the right amount of acidity to pair well with tea,” she says. Another refreshing idea: Make ice cubes using a cold infusion of hibiscus tea (made using the same instructions as above). “Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor that is floral, rather than fruity,” Myrna explains.
Try a California trend
“In San Francisco, people are doing a lot of ‘sparklers’ like seltzers and sparkling waters,” Myrna says. To add extra sparkle to your sparkler, toss in a few ice cubes that contain a pinch of grated citrus zest, such as lemon, lime, orange, or the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu. Another West Coast beverage innovation: varietal grape juice. “It comes in flavors such as Chardonnay and Riesling,” says Myrna, “for when you want the flavor of wine without the alcohol.” Freeze it into cubes, and add them to seltzer or iced tea. You may be able to purchase varietal grape juice at a local vineyard, or try purchasing online from a vineyard.
Give iced coffee a flavor jolt
A tall glass of cold coffee is a great pick-me-up on a summer’s day. To prevent yours from becoming watered down by plain ice, chill it with ice cubes made of espresso that has been brewed and allowed to cool. For a slushy frozen drink, Myrna suggests putting a few espresso cubes into the blender with cool brewed coffee, cream, and simple syrup. (Simple syrup blends better with cold drinks than granulated sugar will.)
Sweeten up your lemonade
To keep your lemonade cool and add natural sweetness and color, toss in some frozen strawberries, raspberries or a handful of frozen fruit chunks, such as those from a pineapple, mango, or kumquat.
Make kids’ drinks super-cute
Encourage children to drink more water by keeping it cold with fun and kid-friendly cubes. Look for ice-cube trays that create ice that is shaped like flowers, hearts, or teddy bears. Kids love cubes made with colorful flavored syrups and water, or with juice or a fruit drink. You can also make regular ice more fun by freezing a surprise—such as a mini gummy bear—inside each cube.