I try to keep the math-related banter to a minimum here, but when the topic turns to ice cubes, as it occasionally must if I want to be taken seriously by the more worldly drinkers in the audience, I sometimes have no choice. So allow me a brief word on the geometry of solid forms: a single, large cube (made of, oh, I don’t know, ice, for instance) has less total surface area than do several smaller cubes of the same aggregate volume, and so will melt more slowly in your glass and, importantly, dilute your drink at a more leisurely rate.
Makes sense when you think about it, right? The implication of this math mini-lesson came home to me with full force a few years ago at a restaurant in the East Village called Momofuku that is much celebrated by New York food types. The meal we had was fine, but the high point of the evening for me came with the arrival of my after-dinner Manhattan. For there, floating in my glass, wasn’t the same old scoopful of quick-melting machine-made ice cubes we’ve all come to expect in our after-dinner drinks, but rather a single, magnificent cube. It must’ve measured two inches by two inches at least, was cold and clear, and kept my drink bracing for what seemed like forever. Out of a sample size that’s likely considerably larger than any number you have in mind, this was the best Manhattan I ever drank. I nearly asked our waiter if he had any spare cubes I could take home until I realized he would’ve thought I was an idiot.
From that moment, the Banks family has been a large-ice-cube household. I ordered some oversized-ice trays (Tovolo King, in blue) on-line the next morning, and since then the cubes they produce have gone into the vast majority of Manhattans, Negronis, Martinis, Rusty Nails, Old-Fashioneds, glasses of whiskey, and just about everything else I turn out at my bar. I’ve even been known to upsize my summertime gin and tonics to pint glasses in order to use the larger cubes there, too. A gin and tonic made with the big cubes, by the way, is very nearly the last word in refreshment. . . .