About a year and a half ago I reviewed a set of Balls of Steel, a drink cooler with a snappy name and ties to testicular cancer research; fifteen percent of their net profits are donated towards the cause. They recently reached out again to ask if I’d like to review their version 2.0–Balls of Steel with Arctic Core technology. Well, I never pass up an opportunity to drink on the job…
Inside the box in this go around were:
- One pair of Balls of Steel
- Travel/storage pouch
The only difference in packaging from the original version to this was the exclusion of the silicone wristband, which hopefully marks the end of the wristband craze.
Each ball is also now laser engraved with BOS (my lights kept obscuring the “B” in these pictures–apologies!) as well as a cancer ribbon. They can be laser engraved for further personalization (think company holiday presents) without compromising the integrity of the balls or their chilling power.
Visually, the balls seem identical to the original set, but they are quite a bit lighter at just over half an ounce each (my kitchen scale measured them at 0.65). The redesign difference for the most part though is beneath the surface. Where the first set of Balls of Steel was comprised of solid stainless steel, the new balls are stainless steel wrapped around a proprietary cooling core. This helps bring down the weight, but also is the key ingredient to keeping the balls colder longer.
BOS are recommended to be put in the freezer for a minimum of 90 minutes prior to drinking, with best results at 4 hours of freezing. The drawback here is that unless you have multiple sets ready to go, the refractory period between chilled drinks is an hour and a half.
The Balls of Steel work just like ice or whiskey stones, so they get dropped in either before or after the liquid–in this case rye whiskey– is added. I had the best results when the liquid wasn’t quite high enough to fully cover the balls.
Then you just swirl them in the drink a bit. From room temperature (75 degrees), after about thirty seconds, my drink’s temperature dropped roughly ten degrees. At five minutes, I had it down to 60 degrees, and that’s about where they tapped out. It may not seem like much, but it was a noticeable difference in terms of temperature.
For choking and dental hazards, it’s still recommended to remove the balls prior to drinking. This leads me to the next caveat–the moment they’re removed from the glass, the temperature will start to rise again. The moment you pick up the glass, your hands will also raise the temperature. Drink fast!
The manufacturer’s claim is that one set of Balls of Steel pack the same cooling power as six ice cubes. I don’t know, I just don’t get it. At most for me, they chilled my drink by 15 degrees–with not even enough liquid poured in to full immerse the balls. They’re not akin to six ice cubes floating in a drink.
However, if we’re judging cooling capability, Balls of Steel does in fact cool drinks, and it works fairly quickly. Even though the balls themselves will stay chilled for quite some time, after about ten minutes their effectiveness wanes. Will they last for chilling that second glass? Maybe, depending upon how quickly you drink. When they’re removed from the glass, the liquid will start to warm back up again to room temperature.
They do work much better than and are an improvement over the solid steel set, but whether or not you need them for your home bar, that’s really up to your drinking preferences. If you like the extreme cold and dilution caused from ice, you’re probably not going to want these as a substitute. I’d recommend Balls of Steel if you already use and enjoy whiskey stones or discs; they’re by far an upgrade in terms of chilling and due to the stainless steel, they don’t pick up any freezer tastes.
Balls of Steel with arctic core are available for $24.99.
I want so badly to get into the whole frozen rocks/metal/other doohickeys in my libations club, but I’ve yet to find a real use for them. It could just be me, but I like my bourbon/whiskey/rum/gin/scotch neat and more or less at room temperature. When I do drink, I want that instant gratification; I don’t want to pre-freeze an implement, then add it to my glass for a bit, then remove it because it will surely knock out some teeth, and all for something that may cool my drink down an imperceptible amount. Cheers to those people who swear by them, but I’ll certainly be the one getting to enjoy my drink faster.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Original Balls of Steel. Visit their site for more info.