Making a punch cocktail for a party this holiday season? There’s no better way to imbue your big-batch drink with festive cheer than adorning it with a beautiful, functional ice ring. To fit in large punch bowls, ice rings are made in large-scale molds. They melt more slowly than smaller ice cubes, which delays dilution and keeps your punch fresher for longer. Add garnishes directly into the ice mold before you freeze for an extra-festive look. For a clear ice mold, use distilled water instead of regular tap. Here's everything you need to know to make the most stunning ice mold.
Find the right mold
If you have a mixing bowl, cake pan, or any large freezer-safe container, guess what? You have an ice mold. Large silicone molds make it easy to release the ice, but be sure that they don’t collapse under the weight of the water so that the shape holds. When using a glass bowl, look for something with thick walls — thin-walled glass can sometimes break in the freezer, risking a potentially dangerous outcome. For an eye-catching, wreath-shaped ice ring, use a standard 10-inch bundt pan — vintage stores often have bundt pans with fun, elaborate designs.
Choose your garnishes
Ice ring accouterment possibilities are endless: Fruits, spices, and herbs can be great additions. Citrus, pears, and apples hold up well in ice rings compared to water-laden fruits with thin skins like berries or melons. Use whole spices like star anise and clove that are larger for better visibility. Fresh hardy herbs such as rosemary and sage add visual interest as well as fresh flavor.
Work in layers
Since you took the time to choose and prepare garnishes for your ice ring, take the extra effort to make sure they will be visible in the final product. Building the ice ring one layer at a time ensures that garnishes are evenly distributed throughout the ring instead of all floating to the top. Start the first layer with the garnishes you want to see at the top of the mold, cover them with water, and freeze for 15 to 20 minutes. Pour enough water over your garnishes to just cover them. This will keep the garnishes visible and prevent the ring from diluting your punch too much as it slowly melts. Repeat the layering process three to four more times, freezing for 30 to 45 minutes per layer, until the mold is filled. Pop the whole thing in the freezer overnight — ice rings can also be made weeks in advance for easy party prep.
Release the ice ring
To help the ice ring come out of the mold, fill a bowl with warm water. Swirl the bottom of the mold in the water for a few seconds to melt the surface of the ice ring that touches the vessel, and then invert the mold to release the ring. Pop it directly in your punch of choice and enjoy immediately. Cheers!