Photo courtesy of Quality Italian

It’s no longer just a chilly accoutrement that controls the temperature of your drink. These days, creative mixologists are infusing ice with tasty ingredients that, when melted, bring a whole new set of flavours to your beverage. Here are five ice-forward cocktails to try. 

The Cape, a Thompson Hotel, Los Cabos, Mexico

The gin-based 1940 has a seasoned fruitiness courtesy of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur and a homemade allspice syrup. But the star of the show is the gorgeous ice ball that encases a piece of palo de sangre, a Mexican root that is both a pretty pink colour and naturally bitter. As the ball melts, 1940 develops a drier, earthier finish. 

Inception Negroni
Prohibition, Vancouver

At this hot spot, head mixologist Robyn Gray combines two types of Negroni to create the Inception Negroni. The more new-age White Negroni, a sweet, colourless riff on the original, beautifully gives way to the amber intensity of the classic Negroni, which is held inside an ice sphere. When the ice cracks and the classic bleeds out, the Negroni’s familiar bitterness brings a sudden herbaceousness to the drink. 

Bitter Angel 
Repour, Miami Beach

The Bitter Angel features the dry and complex flavours of barrel-aged AFROHEAD XO rum, the cherry-tinged taste of Cointreau Guignolet and the slight bitterness of amaro. The pièce de résistance? An ice ball made of dark Belgian chocolate and a blend of spices. As the ball melts, it adds sweet and spiced notes to every sip. 

Cobra Commander
The Pig & The Lady, Honolulu

Located in trendy Chinatown, this restaurant is one of Oahu’s best-loved dining destinations, thanks to a menu that’s both bold and inventive. The drink program is equally avant-garde. The bar’s Cobra Commander could stand on its own: mezcal gives it great smokiness, avocado makes it refreshing and the grapefruit liqueur brings plenty of tartness. But add the Sriracha-infused ice cubes and you’ve got spicy depth unlike anything you’ve ever tasted in a cocktail. 

Tricolore Margarita
Quality Italian, New York

The ice cubes in this cocktail are comprised of three ingredients: jalapeno juice, strawberry purée and Cointreau. Each ingredient represents a colour from the flags of Mexico and Italy—the two countries that inspired the drink’s recipe. Used to chill a margarita spiked with calabrian-spiced honey, these tri-coloured works of art will never dilute the cocktail. Instead, they fortify its heat and boozy content.