Leslie Kirchhoff never orders the same cocktail twice, but she always opts for something on the rocks. The multi-medium creative—who cut her teeth in New York as a photographer and DJ, and recently relocated to Los Angeles—has made an art of drink making, though her main focus isn’t what’s being poured; she’s all about the ice.
As the founder of Disco Cubes, a visually focused edible experience, Kirchhoff designs ice cubes, which she photographs in her signature, warm-toned aesthetic evocative of the sultry ’70s nightclub scene, noting Danish designer Verner Panton as a key influence. “It’s as much an art project as it is an ice cube company,” she says—one that counts vegan fast-casual joint By Chloe and Gia Coppola Wines as clients.
The ice cube innovator embarked on a scouting trip in late 2018 that included stops in Copenhagen, Berlin, Rome, Lisbon, and Tokyo, gathering intel on the best drinks, glassware, and design in each city. “You really have to travel and be out in the real world, seeing things with your own eyes and talking to people,” she says. “I’m constantly looking for inspiration.” Kirchhoff is just warming up—but her creations are perfectly chilled. And she has plenty of tips to share to help you create your own icy concoctions.
Invest in Glassware You Love
Sure, glasses and ice cubes might not seem like the most important thing about a cocktail, but both of them can make or break a drink. For Kirchhoff, a bit of discernment goes a long way. “The glassware you own really does say a lot about you. Thin glass feels great to the touch and elegant on the lips, and crystal has the most beautiful ring when cheers-ing,” she says. Just make sure that if you get experimental with your ice, you have the cups to match. For example, if you’re making king cubes (2-by-2-by-2 inches), ensure you have glassware that’s at least 3 inches in diameter so the cubes can fit inside.
Don’t Freeze Just Water
Anyone who has sipped on a summertime glass of frosé knows that wine can be frozen, but the possibilities of what to freeze for cocktail upgrades extend even beyond that. “I like to encourage people to be experimental with ice, especially in a way that promotes less waste. If there’s a juice you won’t finish or herbs that are on the verge of going bad, freeze them into ice cubes!” says Kirchhoff. Just be mindful about sugar and alcohol content—both make freezing more difficult. Wine needs to be watered down—about a 1:2 wine-to-water ratio—or else it will have a slushy texture. Sugar makes a sticky cube, so add some water when freezing juices.
Pick Up a Few Molds
Chances are, you already have an ice cube tray. While a standard cube shape is fine, you certainly won’t regret investing in something a little more inventive. Candy molds make tiny ice balls, and true cube-shaped molds feel more festive than your usual crescent. Pick up a couple and have some fun.