Ice Cooler & Champagne Bar

The ice cubes that I started with are still visible. 
    In the past, I've made ice bowls that were used to chill shrimp but this time I wanted to make a tall cooler for champagne. When making ice bowls, I partially filled a large bowl with water and then a added a smaller one that was filled with weights. Of course the smaller one will float so I secured it in place with duck tape. However, it was always tricky getting the smaller one centered exactly and invariably I'd end up with one section of the bowl being thick, another thin. So, this time I was determined to come up with a more viable solution.
   After several attempts, this is the method that worked for me . . .

To create a CHAMPAGNE (or wine) COOLER:
  • Select two varying sizes of taller plastic containers (the ones I used happened to originally hold commercial products) but any plastic, aluminum or stainless containers will work.
  • Add a  layer of ice cubes to the bottom of the large container.
  • Center the smaller container on top of the layer of ice; pack ice cubes around the sides to keep it centered.
  • Add a weight to the inside of the smaller container so that it will not float once water is added. I used a sack of rocks. 
  • Carefully add water to the ice and then inserted rosemary sprigs and orange sections around the top. Distilled water will create a cleared container but that was not important to me so I just used tap water. (Other possible additions: cranberries, lemons, limes, mint leaves, etc.)
  • Immediately put in freezer -- time depends on size of containers; mine froze completely overnight.
  • To unmold -- remove weights form smaller container and fill with hot water. After a couple of minutes, you should be able to easily remove the smaller container. Turn larger plastic container upside down and run hot water over bottom; the ice cooler should slide out.
  • Place ice cooler on a tray or in a bowl to catch drips. Insert chilled champagne. Ours set out for a couple of hours with minimal dripping. (I actually then refroze it for another use.)
2013 UPDATE -- I just did another cooler and this time I used a brick to hold the second container in place and did not have to use tape to hold it down.

This time, I also added more decorative items and froze in layers: 
First I added several inches of water and cranberries. 
Once that was frozen I added another few inches of water and sprigs of rosemary and set the cooler back in the freezer. 
The third layer consisted of water and more cranberries. 
This took longer but I like the effect.

To create a CHAMPAGNE BAR:
We had the following additions ready to pour into the bottom of the glasses. Champagne was then added and we were ready to toast the holiday!
     * Fresh squeezed orange juice
     * Pomegranate syrup
     * Creme de Cassis (blackberry liquor)
     Other suggestions: Cranberry Juice, Grand Marnier or other liquors

Another dramatic use for an ice cooler -- add a candle to the depression to create an icy glow.

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