Icy Haute

Boozy ice cubes are the coolest

Watered-down cocktails, be gone: Some of Chicago's top bartenders are taking to the art of ice cube infusion to keep your cocktail chilled and flavorful from first sip to last drop.

Peruvian hot spot Tanta demonstrates ice's versatility with two Latin-inspired cocktails: the La Rusa and the El Chingon (both $12). The latter is spicy and robust, with Tanteo jalapeño tequila, Fidencio mezcal, lime, cilantro and an ice sphere laced with fiery rocoto chile; the ice imparts a punch of heat as you sip.

The La Rusa is decidedly more subtle and blends acholado pisco, aromatic St-Germain, orange, lemon and a fresh thyme sprig with a massive Campari cube, which, as it begins to melt, not only boosts the booziness, but adds some nice bitter notes to the drink.

Campari ice cubes also do the trick in the elegant Manhattan/Boulevardier ($24) with Larceny bourbon, Carpano Antica and Angostura bitters at Terrace at Trump. In the fruity White Radiance ($23) with Fonseca Porto Siroco, Giffard apricot liqueur, honey ginger syrup, a sizeable lemon and blood orange–infused ice cube releases sweet juice as it shifts from solid to liquid.

And at JIMMY at the James Hotel, gin lovers are in luck. The pleasantly tart Baby Bird ($18) is made with Hendrick's, Green Chartreuse, St-Germain and a squeeze of fresh lemon. But the coolest part of the drink is its thyme ice: The herbaceous note of the melting cubes is delicate yet distinct, adding a layer of both aroma and flavor that ties it all together.

What's cooler than cool? Infused ice, of course.