How to Make a Beautiful Autumnal Ice Block for Thanksgiving

Matthew Kelly/Supercall

A regular bottle of booze encased in ice is impressive enough for Sunday brunch, but on Thanksgiving, when there’s a plump, golden turkey and an endless spread of sides, you have to pull out the stops to make your bar stand out. Turn that frozen vodka (or gin or whiskey or even wine) bottle into a showstopping centerpiece by freezing fall decor into the block. We’re talking leaves (fake ones work best); red, orange and yellow flowers; cinnamon sticks; acorns; and anything else that screams autumn. Serve it alongside apple cider for spiking or the ingredients for Moscow Mules. Your guests will be fawning about your boozy offerings just as much as grandma’s pecan pie.

Matthew Kelly/Supercall


  • Scissors and/or knife
  • Stovetop and small saucepan
  • Freezer


  • Slender vodka bottle (or spirit of your choice)
  • Half-gallon distilled water
  • Half-gallon cardboard carton of milk or juice
  • Variety of fall decorations: fake leaves, fall-hued flowers, acorns, cinnamon sticks etc.


Step 1: Boil Water

Boil distilled water and cool completely to ensure the ice is as clear as possible.

Matthew Kelly/Supercall

Step 2: Prep the Mold

Wash out a half-gallon carton of milk or juice, and cut off the top using scissors or a knife.

Step 3: Center the Bottle

Place a vodka bottle in the center of the container, making sure there is an even amount of space on all four sides.

Matthew Kelly/Supercall

Step 4: Fill It up Halfway with Water

Fill the carton halfway with water, pouring gently to minimize agitation. Gently tap the sides of the carton and the neck of the bottle to release air bubbles.

Matthew Kelly/Supercall

Step 5: Arrange the Display

Place leaves, flowers and any other decorations in the water, wedging them between the bottle and the inner wall of the carton to keep them submerged. It should be a tight squeeze, and you may need to use the back of a utensil to shove them to the bottom of the carton. You won’t be able to see your arrangement through the carton, so mentally take note of what decorations you’ve already used so you have an even spread and variety of colors.

Step 6: Repeat

Once decorations are tightly packed on the bottom half of the carton, fill with more water until it is mostly full, and repeat the process with more decorations. The water will rise slightly as it freezes, so do not fill to the very top of the carton.

Step 7: Freeze It

Place on a flat, level area of the freezer so that the carton can stand upright on its own. Freeze overnight.

Step 8: Remove Your Masterpiece from the Carton

When you are ready to display the block, remove the carton by running it under cold water briefly. Pull the bottle out of the carton by the neck. If desired, chip or scrape small amounts of ice from the corners to give the block a rounded shape.

Matthew Kelly/Supercall

Step 9: Display with Pride

Place the ice-encased bottled on a serving tray to catch liquid as it melts (it will stay intact for at least an hour). Use as a centerpiece for a Thanksgiving spread, or on your bar for any cocktail party this season.