The Most Important Ingredient: Ice

From Drinking In America on Feb 26, 2013

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We spend so much time talking about the various flavors in our favorite wines, beers and liquors, but we don’t always think about other things that can influence a drink’s taste. For example, have you ever thought about how the ice in your glass affects your cocktail? Consider your ice cube trays at home and think about how those cubes absorb the smells and flavors in the freezer. Nasty, right? When you put those funky cubes in your cocktail, those weird flavors melt and end up mixing with your drink.


The size of the ice plays a big role because it can determine the dilution of a drink (whether it ends up watery, or too strong.) The Violet Hour, a bar in Chicago, offers eight different kinds of ice depending on the cocktail you order. A Mai Tai would get crushed ice, while a Scotch on the rocks would get a larger, slower-melting ice. They even have oblong blocks that fit nicely into a Collins glass.

As for where the ice comes from, many bars are investing in a Kold-Draft. A Kold-Draft is an ice machine that dispenses airless, slow-melting cubes that outperform the industry standard because of their large surface area. If you’re making your ice at home, it’s recommended that you use filtered or bottled water and you make it “fresh” – aka, you don’t want the weird freezer tastes that we previously mentioned. Consider getting a silicone ice tray that won’t absorb freezer odors.

Some bars also offer flavored ice to complement your cocktail of choice. This allows establishments to get a little creative because their options are essentially endless – we’ve seen ice made from juice, syrup, spices like cinnamon or cayenne, mint leaves and pieces of fruit.

Have you ever gone to a bar with different types of ice? Did you notice the difference?

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