If there’s one thing food magazines can be relied upon to do, it’s coming up with aggravating, overly decorative, Martha-Stewartesque things that you’ll never actually do. It’s not a cardinal sin—the features are usually short, and the ideas they contain are often entertaining to read about … if completely impractical to execute.

Therefore, Food & Wine’s blurb and photograph about decorative ice cubes (which act as edible display cases for cranberries, star anise, mint, and other benign-and-colorful ingredients) might provoke a certain amount of initial scoffing. Who actually takes the time to freeze crap inside of huge ice cubes? Won’t they just make a mess? Could they actually, possibly be worth the time?

This author’s fiancée says that “Not really” and “Yes” are the answers to the last two questions, respectively.

When served at a New Year’s grilled-cheese-and-champagne party, the cubes—dubbed MirandaCubes in honor of the first guest to truly embrace their full potential—provoked general acclaim because they looked absolutely kick-ass. A couple of mint leaves and a cranberry in a big cube make a shockingly satisfying visual splash in champagne punch. Cinnamon sticks and star anise did the trick as well.

The whole thing appeals on a number of levels. There’s the “I made it myself” faux-art level. And the “Holy crap, these ice cubes are crazy!” guest-reaction level.

And—possibly most significantly—there’s the “This is the coolest melted-down day-old half-consumed drink I’ve ever seen” level. When you’re wrestling with a half-ton of post-party debris, it’s a morale builder.

See more articles