Depending on which stage of the research process you’re in, you may have noticed that there are a surprising amount of options in the ice sphere press space. Ranging in size, color, design, accessories, price and more, the “analysis paralysis” can often leave you confused and wondering what is supposed to matter to you. At this point, you’re aware that ice sphere molds exist, but to maximize your benefit and experience you’re going with an ice ball press. Today, we hope to leave you with a look into the ice press industry, along with our pick of the ice press that does it all.
This variable has a hand in both the form and the function of the ice ball press. If you know how an ice press works (and if you don’t, take a look at this article first), size plays a huge role in the pressing process. The more metal that is present to soak up heat and transfer it to the ice, the faster that the ice press will function. Of course, size is also an important design element, as we don’t want a tiny ice press when a selling point of the tool is its imposing presence.
Size is a consideration not just in the overall size of the press, but in the size of the ice spheres it presses as well. Keep an eye out for this terminology, as ice press spheres can range from 1.2 inches across to 2.75 inches across. This variance in size makes the difference between a dainty golf-ball-sized ice sphere in your drink, or a large ball of ice that fills your tumbler and can last through multiple drinks.
For what is essentially a metal cylinder, you’d be surprised how many variations in design there are. These variations range from simple additions like a handle on the top half to even being machined to look like a barrel of whiskey! The most useful design addition we see is an integrated tray to catch runoff water from the ice pressing process. Our words of caution when shopping for certain design elements: all of the costs associated with extra metal and machining that go towards design and not the ice press functionality itself are passed on directly to you, so be mindful of the diminishing returns those extra dollars get you.
When it comes to choosing which metal is used in an ice press, two simple variables are used: price and thermal conductivity. The thermal conductivity is important because that process will dictate how efficiently your ice press will transfer heat to the ice during the ice press process. It’s because of those two factors that the “goldilocks” material to use is aluminum; it’s strong, has great thermal conductivity, and is very price effective. The only other metal I’ve seen used is copper, a far more high-end offering. It’s going to melt ice much quicker than aluminum, but be prepared to spend 10x more on average than you would with an aluminum ice press.
It’s not easy to mess up the craftsmanship of an ice press, however it is possible. It’s impossible to know the manufacturing process for every ice ball press you look at, but you can draw conclusions based on product price and a brand’s transparency. If you can’t find mention of them and you found your press for $80 on Alibaba, I’d be concerned. If your press is coming from a company based in the US or even Japan, I’d rest a little easier.
As you’ve likely picked up by now, all of the different elements that go into making an ice press for whiskey contribute to the price. For a product that does essentially the same thing as its alternatives, it can seem crazy that the price ranges from $100 to $1,000+. Weigh your options and make sure you don’t jump on the first press you see, especially given the options and variations in price out there.
Taking all of these features into consideration, there is one ice press that stands out. The Ice Ball Press Kit from Bar & Craft does a lot right and gets very little wrong. Their ice press creates large 2.5 inch ice spheres that fit perfectly in any tumbler. Design-wise, it has a sleek and minimalistic industrial look that fits great in any bar, also coming in two timeless colors like Onyx and Silver. Like it says in the name, the press is a part of a kit that comes with an ice mold for the press, a bar mat to catch water, ice tongs to extract the ice sphere, and a snazzy wooden box to keep it all in. Best of all? The price. At $269.99, it comes well under much of the competition while still delivering best-in-class features. See for yourself using this link here: The Bar & Craft Ice Ball Press