When it comes to cocktails, one thing is for sure – virtually all recipes use ice. Whether you’re mixing up a Martini or whizzing up a Woo Woo, a cocktail without ice is like Ying without Yang. Our cocktail ice guide can help you with that.
If you’re a cocktail or mocktail lover, ice is one of the most important things to have in the freezer. Which leads to the all-important question…
Why is ice in cocktails so important?
While it might be easy to think ice’s sole purpose is to chill a drink, it has other functions, too. You can make the tastiest cocktail with the best ingredients and follow the recipe exactly, but with insufficient ice you’ll probably find it doesn’t taste as good as it should.
Put simply, if you care about the quality of your drinks, you should care about the quality and quantity of ice, too.
Diluting a drink – it’s not all bad
You might think diluting a drink is a bad thing. Although filling a glass with tiny ice cubes that melt fast can be detrimental to your drink, using the right quality and quantity of ice also works positively.
When a cocktail is shaken or stirred with ice, the ice breaks down and adds water to the cocktail. The diluted ice blends the drink’s flavours while softening the flavour of the alcohol and sharp fruit flavours, to make a smoother drink. If you use a small amount of small, low-quality ice, it can melt too quickly, disrupting the flavours in your drink.
Utilising the basic principles of thermodynamics also applies when you’re making spirits and mixers. So, next time you play bartender, fill up on ice and taste the difference. Which leads us onto the question, ‘what kind of ice should I use in a cocktail?’ The answer? It depends.
Choosing the right ice for the right drink
Mixology sounds scientific, and for good reason. There is science behind the shape and style of ice, and it has a direct impact on the taste of the cocktail you’re supping. From Crushed Ice and standard ice cubes like Party Ice, to giant ice cubes like Super Cubes, there’s plenty of variety out there. But how do you know what ice to choose for what drink?
The cocktail ice guide – which ice to use for which drink
Cocktail ice guide 1 – Extra large ice cubes like Super Cubes
Extra large ice cubes come into a world of their own when you’re serving a strong drink that you want to be on ice so that it stays chilled, but you don’t want further dilution after stirring. Lowball classics like an Old Fashioned, and Negroni are great served with Super Cubes, and so is any spirit on the rocks.
Drink Super Cubes with: An Old Fashioned, Craft G&T or a Negroni.
Cocktail ice guide 2 – Standard and large ice cubes – Party Ice & Polar Cube Ice
Suitable for any occasion, Party Ice is perfect for chilling glasses, cooling bottles and in all kinds of drinks. Cocktails are no exception, and this ice features in many of our cocktail recipes. These solid ice cubes are perfect for tall cocktails and shaking – creating the ideal level of aeration without diluting a drink. Polar Cube Ice is also a good option for long drinks.
If you only have small ice cubes, use more of them but stir or shake for less time. But whatever you do, don’t fill your glass full of tiny ice cubes that will melt in seconds, because you’ll end up diluting a drink too fast – and who wants that!
Cocktail ice guide 3 – Crushed Ice
For drinks with a slushie vibe, Crushed Ice is a necessity. What’s more, there’s no adequate substitute for crushed ice, so it’s a good one to have on standby. For cocktails with a frosty feel, like a Mojito or Woo Woo, Crushed Ice is perfect. If you don’t have any to hand, you can make your own by placing Party Ice in a tea towel and crushing until you get small, irregular sized pieces that are around the size of a pea. But beware, crush too much and you’ll end up with a melty mess!
Drink Crushed Ice with: A Mojito or Woo Woo.
Chilling glass the easy way
At a busy party, the quick turnover of glasses can mean the dishwasher is constantly on the go. This can lead to warm glasses, which can ruin a cocktail within seconds. Before you serve a cocktail, make chilling glass easy by filling them with ice cubes before preparing a drink.
Why is ice in cocktails so important?
From chilling glasses to diluting a drink, the type, quality and size of ice can make a huge difference. In fact, one of the main reasons cocktails can taste so much better at a swanky bar is that they know how to use ice to enhance a drink, and really understand its thermodynamics.
So, after reading our ice guide, you now know the answer to, ‘why is ice in cocktails so important?’ Next time you play bartender, you can be prepared to serve deliciously show stopping cocktails, just like the ones at your local cocktail bar. Cheers!