Ice Is Art, Not Afterthought in Leslie Kirchhoff’s ‘Disco Cube Cocktails’

Ice is no longer an afterthought in “Disco Cube Cocktails,” the new 1970s-inspired cocktail collection by Leslie Kirchhoff, a Los Angeles-based photographer, DJ, and entrepreneur.

In 2018, Kirchhoff opened Disco Cubes, an ice/photo studio in Los Angeles where she makes custom ice cubes for big-name clients and branded events. Kirchhoff was inspired to create something new and recognized a “gap in the market. No one was paying much attention to ice at the time,” she says.

With “Disco Cube Cocktails,” Kirchhoff hopes to change how people think about the ice in their glass, with recipes that go beyond the aesthetics and taste of just frozen water. “I want readers to expand their idea of what cocktails and ice can be. It’s fun to create something new and then experience it with others,” Kirchhoff says.

The book features a variety of cocktails constructed around the creative use of ice. The Loft, a combination of vodka, ginger liqueur, pear purée, lemon juice, and egg whites, is topped with a ginger lemongrass cube. The Sanctuary mixes vodka, muddled raspberries, lychee juice, aloe liqueur, lemon juice, and “cucumber coins,” ice made from cucumber purée. Kirchhoff notes that the flavored ice in both The Loft and The Sanctuary allows the cocktails to “take on new flavors as the cubes melt.”

Other recipes feature “perfectly clear cubes with garnishes inside,” which Kirchhoff describes as “mesmerizing up close.” In The Last Dance, gin, green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur, and lime juice are shaken over a cherry and lime cube, while ice filled with fennel fronds and pink peppercorns is dropped into The Mimi to complement gin, fino sherry, lemon juice, and a fennel peppercorn simple syrup.

Kirchhoff adds that the ice in her book presents readers with a way to use ingredients that may have been thrown out, “turning what would otherwise be scraps into a transformative element of a drink.”

The Loft Recipe

“This combination is inspired by one I had at a cocktail bar called THESE, in Tokyo, where there is no menu. Rather, the guest is presented with a basket of seasonal fruit from which they choose one or several for their drink. During a torrential downpour, I returned to THESE a second night to retrieve my lost (and found) favorite scarf. About to leave, I found myself persuaded by a duo of knife salesmen to try ‘the best cocktail ever’—and then we all had three rounds.”

The Sanctuary Recipe

“Discos have long been likened to places of spiritual worship by party goers, and the Sanctuary may have been the most literal of all. In 1969, Arnie Lord opened the nightclub inside an old German church on Forty-Third Street in New York City. He spread the pews to form a glorious dance floor, the catacombs turned into a ‘chill zone,’ and the altar appropriately became the DJ booth.”

The Last Dance Recipe

“A celebration of the classic Last Word cocktail, but with the flair of Donna Summer a la ‘Last Dance.’ The day the queen of disco died I was at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc during the Cannes Film Festival. Giorgio Moroder (inventor of electronic music, disco legend, Donna Summer’s longtime collaborator, “Last Dance” coproducer, and much more) performed the song live while the sun set over the water, and then he queued up the original recording in her honor.”

The Mimi Recipe

“After months of living next to a big billowing tree without giving it a second glance, I took a closer look and realized I had my very own pink peppercorn tree. The leaves quickly became my favorite garnish, adding a faint peppery scent and a tropical vibe. If you don’t live where these trees grow wild, you can order leaves and berries online.”

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