Gadgets: Crush ice like in 'Mad Men' days

Back in the days before the refrigerator door could be counted on to crush ice at the press of a button, thirsty folks had to rely on other methods to chill their cocktails. One midcentury lifesaver was the manual ice crusher.

These handly little gadgets might vary slightly by make and model, but they work on the same principle: Flip open the top, insert ice cubes and turn the crank as metal teeth conveniently crush ice cubes into a waiting basket or ready glass. Voila. Some models even allow you to adjust the level of crushing from coarse to fine.

Names like Ice-O-Mat, Dazey and Swing-A-Way could be counted on to crush the toughest ice into submission just in time for cocktail hour. And do it in a fashionable way to boot, whether you prefer a sensible if boxy shape or love the curves and lines of an atomic rocket sitting on your mini-bar. Colors range from pastel pink and mint to vibrant red and avocado green, with two-tone options and chrome accents adding to the magic.

Vintage ice crushers often turn up at garage sales and in antiques stores, and you can easily find them online on auction sites like EBay. Fabulous as they may look, these beauties are only as useful as their ability to crush ice, so make sure they have all their teeth before you buy. Prices depend on make and condition, but a vintage ice crusher can be yours for around $20 to $40.

— Noelle Carter

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