What Exactly Do You Need to Do With Your $ 500 Ice Maker?

If you are a fan of native ice, also known as “sonic ice” or “that good ice,” then I have some exciting news for you. Thanks to the brilliant minds at FirstBuild, you can now stumble upon some of them from the comfort of your very cozy home. The countertop ice maker is called The Opal and is pretty sleek.

If you’ve never had nugget ice before and aren’t quite sure what this is about, the appeal of nugget ice lies in its small size, its soft crunchy texture and its ability to “absorb flavor.” He has a serious, almost cult following, enthusiasts claiming that he makes almost any drink better. We’ll get to all the drunk (and non-drunk) liquid entertainment soon, but let’s talk about the specs first.

The deets

Opal has one job: to make good ice, and he does it very well. It has a single toggle switch that toggles between clean and ice, and one button. This button not only turns the machine on and off, but also has an indicator light to let you know if the Opal is making ice, if it is in a cleaning cycle, or if it needs to be refilled with H2O.

It is pleasing to the eye and easy to use. It took just over an hour to set up, from unpacking to that first gorgeous frozen pellet. I know you probably have a lot of other questions, so I’ll ask them for you:

  • How much is it? Lot. The Opal Nugget Ice Maker is priced at $ 499, which is in line with the high level of home appliances in the kitchen. (This is more than just a Kitchenaid mixer and Anova precision cooker put together to turn this into “fancy kitchen toys.”)
  • How much does it weigh? Opal weighs 44 pounds.
  • How much space does it take? Opal is 10.5 “wide, 15.5” deep, and 17.25 “high. I don’t have a very large kitchen, but I was able to find a place for it on top of the built-in one.
  • How much noise does it make? Nice bit. This is usually a quiet buzzing sound, but sometimes it makes a much more vicious, growling sound that wakes me up because I live in a one-room apartment where there is no physical separation between my bedroom and my kitchen.
  • How much good ice does it make and how long does it take to make that amount of ice? Once turned on, the opal takes about 15 minutes to produce the first nugget. From there it makes a pound of ice an hour and can hold 3 pounds at a time. Once it is full, it will shut off until you grab a scoop or two, after which it will go back to making good ice.
  • How much can you earn in a day? You could probably extrapolate this yourself from the information above, but Opal can make 24 pounds of ice in 24 hours.
  • Is the ice exactly like Sonic’s ice? These nuggets are a little longer than the ice you’ll get from Sonic – I don’t have Sonic next to me to show you visually side by side, but I would say Opal nuggets are about 30% longer than Sonic nugs. However, they are just as fun to chew.
  • Does ice keep frozen? Left in the bucket, the ice will slowly melt back into the tank and that melt water will turn into fresh nugget ice.
  • How often do you need to clean? For the best ice flavor, you should clean the Opal once a week. As usual, I only skip my rinse cycle once per month in my home. I think ice tastes great. (Don’t be like me.)
  • Can you connect it to the water supply? No, this is a self-contained unit and you will have to refill the tank manually.

Okay, now that we have all the boring details, let’s talk about drinks.


Ice nuggets don’t go well with every cocktail, but it goes well with many alcoholic beverages. The drinks that pair best with nugget ice are those that withstand or are enhanced by slight dilution. (All fruity – instant win.) Avoid drinks that are usually served (ie, no ice in the glass) – such as Manhattans and martinis – and anything already diluted enough, such as spritzers or soda aperitifs. However, as with everything, personal preference comes into play. While this may sound dreadful to some – and I’m breaking my own rule – I think this type of Negroni on ice would be just as delicious in the summer months.

In terms of entertainment, this thing makes home cocktail parties a lot easier, especially if you’re a fan of crushed ice cocktails. Not only do nugget ice make beautiful drinks, it saves you the hassle of hammering and produces a much smoother block of ice than you could crush yourself. It’s not a perfect candidate for shaking or stirring – its small size will dilute everything too quickly – but that’s why it’s so great for making cocktails right in a glass. Simply pour in the ingredients, add ice, stir, and you have a perfectly diluted and chilled drink ready to drink. I was lucky enough to live in a densely populated city with great bartenders, and was able to convince cocktail master and ice lover Nicholas Flowers of the Teardrop Lounge to help me come up with three fantastic cocktails to share with you.

Refreshing Mint Julep


  • 2 1/4 ounce bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • 12 or so mint leaves.

Add mint leaves and simple syrup to a julep cup and gently press with a stirrer. Add bourbon and small pebbles. Stir, add more ice and garnish with the prettiest sprig of mint.

Absolutely not too sweet pina colada


  • 1 ounce of aged rum and 30 grams of light rum, or literally 2 ounces of any rum you like.
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 ounce pineapple juice (you can use your own juice)
  • 1 1/2 oz mix of Coco Lopez and coconut cream

Pour the whole thing into a glass with a little pebble ice, stir and put some more pebble ice on top. Garnish with a pineapple wedge or something else. Put your fucking umbrella in there. (These last two sentences are Mr. Flower’s unedited instructions.)

Very beautiful blackberry


  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 3-4 blackberries.

Add the first three ingredients to one glass and combine the blackberries in another glass. Pour some of the cocktail into the blackberry glass and stir it with a bar spoon (any long spoon will work, though). Pour the blackberry mixture into a tall glass, top with pebble ice to fill 3/4 cup. Pour the rest of the shake over ice and add more ice. Decorate with blackberries.


Ethanol isn’t the only liquid that great frozen water granules are good for. A tall glass of Mexican Coca-Cola is superbly chilled and refreshing over soot, and when you’re done drinking soda, you’ve got a glass of crunchy granules with a subtle cola flavor. The same is true for coffee and iced teas, especially for creamier and sweeter options like iced mocha or Thai iced tea. Lemonade is a good choice, or you can grab a page from Sonic’s book and make cherry lemonade. To be honest, chilling a cherry limada is the ultimate goal that nugget ice can accomplish.

In terms of whether it all justifies the price tag, it all depends. If you don’t drink much at home, do not have fun, and do not like to chew soft ice balls, this is obviously not for you – because this is a $ 500 ice maker. I’ve driven cars that are cheaper. However, if you are very fond of crushed ice cocktails, enjoy the fun and are obsessed with that good ice, Opal should probably be on your dream kitchen wishlist.


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