Negroni Cocktail Sphere

March 5, 2014

I’ve always been fascinated by ice. When mixing cocktails, you quickly realize that ice is a big deal. Different drinks call for different types of ice. For example, a mint julep requires a mountain of crushed ice both to account for its sweetness, and to beat the Southern heat. An old fashioned, on the other hand, is perfect with one large cube, thereby keeping it cold but while minimizing dilution. It’s okay, you can say it, I’m an ice geek. Well, not as much as these guys, but you get the idea. So it’s no surprise that when I saw ice being used both as an ingredient AND a vessel, I was eager to give it a go. Inspired by the Aviary’s Old Fashioned in The Rocks, I decided to “sphere” one of my favorites: the Negroni. Be forewarned, this DIY is tricky at best (there’s another wonderful tutorial here). Assuming you’re not using a blast chiller, and with several other variables in play, it can be difficult to get this one on your first try. But once it works out, it can be the trick that has your guests awarding you the title of happy hour legend.

Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM


  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz Campari
  • lemon twist for garnish

Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM

Start by filling your cocktail molds. I used these ice molds, which I recommend because they are easy to use, and have a perfectly sized hole in the top that you’ll need. After you fill your mold with water, put it in the freezer. If possible, place the mold on a rack so that the cold air can evenly circulate. Here’s where it can get tricky: The goal is to chill the sphere just long enough so that the outside freezes (~ 1/4 inch thick) but the inside remains liquid. In my freezer this took about 3 hours, but it will vary significantly depending on a number of factors: freezer temperature, how crowded your freezer is, if you open the freezer during the process, etc. This will no doubt take some observation, and trial and error. Just be sure to note the time it takes for future reference.

Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM

Halfway through the freezing process, at approximately 1.5 hours, carefully poke through the hole in the top of the mold, puncturing the ice. Be very gentle, as you don’t want to crack any other part of the sphere. I used the very tip of my ice pick, but you can also use a cocktail pin, or anything else thin, sharp and pointy.

Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM

Once it appears the outside of the sphere has frozen to the proper thickness, poke through the hole again, puncturing the wall of the sphere. Carefully remove the top of the mold from the sphere. If the mold is frozen shut, either let it rest for 30 seconds to warm, or run it under lukewarm water for five seconds. Again, be very careful to not pull the mold apart too quickly, or with too much force, or else you will crack your sphere. Also, holding the mold under water for too long will melt and crack your sphere. Now you can drain out the water through the hole! I turned the sphere upside down and inserted a skinny plastic straw to drain the water. An easier way to drain the water would be to use a kitchen syringe, such as a marinade injector. Simply suck out the water with the syringe and your ice sphere is ready to go! Place back in the freezer temporarily until you cocktail is ready to fill.

Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM

Now that your sphere is hollow and ready to go, it’s time to get started on the cocktail. Simply add the gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari to your mixing glass, fill with ice, and stir for 30 seconds.

Mixing a Negroni // HonestlyYUM

Remove the sphere from the mold if you haven’t already done so. VERY carefully place into your rocks glass. Do not drop into the bottom of the glass (easier said than done). It helps to tilt the glass sideways and slowly lower the sphere down the side of the glass until it gently touches the bottom. Remember to have the hole facing up. Now you can fill the sphere with your cocktail!! If you used the syringe to drain, you can use it to fill the sphere with the cocktail as well. Instead, I delicately strained the cocktail into the sphere directly through the hole, but this was a bit more precarious. Note: at this point if the walls of your sphere are too thin, or your cocktail too warm, it might melt through the bottom when filling.

Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM

Assuming everything worked out for you, your cocktail sphere is now complete. Hooray!! Your guests (or in my case, my dog) will be wowed and maybe even snap an Instagram.

Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM

And now for the best part . . . destruction!! Use a muddler, the back of a spoon, or even a mini axe to crack open your sphere. Instantly, a negroni on the rocks!

Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM

Garish with a twist of lemon, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM

Congratulations, you deserve it.

Negroni Cocktail Sphere // HonestlyYUM

(images by HonestlyYUM)


if you syringe the water out of the sphere, then stir your cocktail and use the syringe to re-insert the cocktail back into the ice through that same hole, you now have a much smaller opening to worry about spilling the contents from, this will mean only a hole large enough for the syringe will be open and create a much better piece of ice to break.

you can also use a rubber band with a small hard item attached to break the ice as they do at Aviary in Chicago. just pull the rubber band tight around the entire glass with hard item in the center of the glass, when ready to break pull back like a sling shot and crack, you have your cocktail

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Love it, hopefully will be the proud owner of the ice sphere tray soon and then will try myself.

I’ll probably link people to this page on my next post featuring some Negronis around London.

Hi, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
When I look at your website in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some
overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!

Other then that, terrific blog!

I was playing with these tonight. One difficult thing is getting the ice shell to not roll around in the glass. The hole seems to be a magnet for the bottom of the glass and the wrangling time allows for melting time. I discovered that a chopstick works perfectly for both moving the sphere from the mold to the glass. This also gives you something to stabilize the ball with so that you can add the cocktail. If you’re using a syringe, just back the chopstick out enough to get the needle in and you’re set.

And, as I found out, if you aren’t sure if your shell is thick enough, make sure your cocktail is ice cold. If not, it can melt through the bottom of a thin shell…very quickly. Either way, even in failure, you have yourself a Negroni. Win Win

Just gotta say, I did this Saturday night and it worked first try – really top notch tutorial and made me look like a champ in from of our guests. Thank you!

I am now obsessed with the idea of putting all my drinks into spheres.

Could you prepare the whole cocktail inside the ice and then refreeze it again? Assuming the alcohol inside won’t freeze?

There are quite a few 1/6th size axes for sale on ebay for those who absolutely [I]must[/I] have one. 😀

Wow, really beautiful presentation. I think the miniature axe at the end really makes this presentation worth trying!

Fun trick, but an ice nerd should be aware that it’s not physically possible to chill a drink with ice without dilution occurring, no matter what size or shape your ice cube. The chilling occurs because and to the extent that the ice has melted. And that’s the point: water is a critical element of every classic cocktail. Any mustachioed bartender selling you a drink chilled with alcoholic ice is doing it wrong.

Also, the boiled water ice trick is a myth. To get clear ice at home, you’ll need to freeze it directionally and then cut off the cloudy end.

Correct, both chilling and dilution are the two things that turn a simple mix of alcohol into a cocktail!

Love your tutorial and will try it. Where did you get that pretty little axe?

Thank you Andrea!! I found the mini axe at a random estate sale. So sorry!!

So this is pretty much the coolest thing I have ever seen. Thanks for the tips on getting good ice cubes–we use those giant silicon ice cube molds for whiskey and using boiled water will make ours super fancy….or at least crystal clear. 🙂

OK- I’m a little bit obsessed with this. Seriously. What a brilliant idea! And the photos are so gorgeous. My husband would absolutely love to try this. He uses ice sphere’s when he drinks whiskey and this would be such a fun change. Love. It.

Thank you Rachael. So happy you liked it 🙂 I worked hard on this one. It’s a bit tricky, but the results are pretty fun!

Brilliant and nice step by step process. The mini axe is killer so if you could please share where you found that. Thanks.

Thank you so much Martin! I’m so happy you like it. Unfortunately, I found the mini axe at an estate sale so I can’t direct you anywhere specific. So sorry!

In think that drink was the highlight of my visit to the Aviary. Awesome job! Now I need to add blast chiller and kitchen syringe to my ‘to buy’ list.

Thank you Elana 🙂 Of course you’ve been to the Aviary…so jealous!!

Hi! This is super awesome! Where is the mini axe purchased from?


Thank you so much Anabelle! I picked up the mini axe at an estate sale, so unfortunately I can’t direct you anywhere specific. Sorry!!

Nice work! I love the look of it. Wonder if we can leave guests to crack their own if they will try to drink it as is and end up with Negroni all over their faces. Hmm, might be worth it.

Definitely impressive, but what about the absinthe? I’m guessing it might be a bit much to rinse the inside of the ice sphere first >.<'

Thanks Heidi. There’s no absinthe necessary, but that would be so cool!! I think I might have to try it.

This is amazing but where can I find your mini axe?! I’m obsessed and now need one!

Thank you Allie!! I found the mini axe at an estate sale, so unfortunately I can’t direct you anywhere specific. Sorry!

Wow, that’s a lot of work just to go cracking the ice again. Totally cool concept and thanks for sharing. I couldn’t be bothered to take the time, but I applaud you for trying it out. As always, the pictures are lovely and now I’m thirsty!

Wow. Just, wow. Impressive to say the least. I’m not sure I’d have the patience (or tools) to accomplish this herculean task but I have to say if this was ever presented to me as a cocktail, I’d simply be blown away!

This is such a brilliant idea! I’ve just recently discovered how easy the silicone ice ball molds are to use. Creating hollow ones to fill is a whole new frontier. I hope your dog was impressed with this presentation.

Thank you so much Beth! Means a lot. Grizzly tried to steal one that I accidentally dropped on the floor!!

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