hielo en cócteles - ice in cocktails

The essential role of ice in cocktails: 5 best-known advice to follow

Ice in cocktails play a role that goes beyond cooling. Size and shape have a significant effect and add aesthetic appeal while creating ideal consistency.

What is the most important ingredient in a drink? No, not the alcohol, not the expensive glasses, not the fancy garnishes… Ice is probably one of the most important ingredients in a cocktail because when it melts, it becomes part of the drink.

You can perfectly use ice in cocktails if you follow these steps: have the best ingredients and follow the recipe to the letter, but most importantly have the right kind of ice cubes, otherwise, your cocktail will miss the perfection you are trying to create.

Essentially, ice in cocktails and drinks, in general, deserves more than a little attention. If you’re using ice that’s been sitting in the freezer for weeks, it’s time to get your act together because better ice makes better cocktails.

Spheres or king cubes are best for drinks like Negroni, as they maintain a consistently cold temperature with less dilution. Whiskey often uses spherical ice because it melts more slowly due to its geometry.

Whisky – Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

Negroni – Photo by Aurela Redenica on Unsplash


The role of ice in cocktails and spirits

It’s easy to think that the sole function of ice in cocktails is keeping the drink cold. However, it has a much more important role for bar professionals. From locking in fresh flavors to diluting intense flavors, ice can often enhance a cocktail.

Ice plays an important role, as the right temperature is key to a good cocktail. The right type of ice adds strength and texture. As the ice melts, it becomes part of the drink.

Not having the right amount of ice in a drink is like serving a dish at room temperature. The food will be good, but the flavors will be unspoken,” says Jezan Limzerwala, associate director, F&B, The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai.

When a cocktail is shaken or stirred with ice, it melts and adds water to the drink.

This dilution combines the flavors of the drink while softening the alcohol and strong fruity flavors to create a smoother, more enjoyable drink.

With the continuing trend toward craft cocktails, premium ice is becoming a necessity as it can make the difference between a good and a great drink.


History of Ice

Ice has been a rarity for many centuries and a luxury reserved for the wealthy. Europeans had to make long, arduous journeys to the Alps to find ice and bring it back by donkey.

Boston entrepreneur Frederic Tudor, aptly named the Ice King, revolutionized the ice business in 1806 by extracting blocks of ice from New England lakes.

After suffering huge financial losses when most of his ice melted during the voyage, his business rebounded when he began packing the ice using sawdust. By the time Tudor died in 1864, Americans and Europeans alike had developed a taste for frozen drinks.

Jerry Thomas’ book, The Bartender’s Guide, was published two years earlier. Modern cocktail culture could not develop without these ice pioneers.

In terms of use, the most common types of ice used in cocktails or drinks on the rocks are cubes and balls.


Size matters

Whether it’s slow-melting blocks, refreshing pebbles, or crushed ice, bartenders are using ice in cocktails and drinks with ice cubes with a purpose.

Cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Negronis are best served with a single large cube to control dilution. This type of cube allows the drink to be enjoyed slowly, giving each sip a consistent flavor for over 20 minutes.

The large cube allows the drink to be chilled longer,” says Pradyumna Shanker, head bartender at the St Regis Goa Resort.

Cocktail Old Fashoned – Photo by Alaksiej Čarankievič on Unsplash

This type of ice melts quickly and is best suited for tropical drinks like juleps, and tiki drinks, which are consumed quickly, such as a caipirinha, caipiroska, mojito, or frozen margarita.

The crushed ice also adds a lot of texture to the drink, making it super refreshing. If your refrigerator can serve crushed ice, then nothing like it; if not, you can get the same effect by crushing cubes in a bag, clean towel, or blender,” says Shanker.

Spheres or king cubes are the most common types of craft cocktail ice used in bars today. They are ideal for maintaining a consistently cold temperature with less dilution.

This form of ice is perfect for spirits in stemware. For example, whiskey often uses spherical-shaped ice because it melts more slowly due to its geometry.

Using the right ice with your single malt intensifies the flavor of the whiskey. If you’re a beginner, ice can tone down some of the stronger flavors in whiskey and make it easier to drink.

If you’re in the connoisseur’s club, it’s best to choose ice carefully, as it can have a numbing effect, which means you’ll enjoy a whisky with less character,” says Angad Singh Gandhi, Glenfiddich’s brand ambassador in India.


And remember, when it comes to ice, less is more

The more ice, the less dilution (that’s the law of thermodynamics, not because the bartender wants you to buy more drinks). The few isolated ice cubes you may find in a drink will dilute much faster than a large glass filled to the brim with fresh ice.

Clearly, ice in cocktails is as important as the drink and the juice.

Most bars use crushed ice when a drink needs to be cooled quickly and diluted heavily.

Photo by Tina Witherspoon on Unsplash – When a drink needs to be chilled quickly and diluted heavily, most bars use crushed ice in cocktails.

Ice should always be fresh, clean, and clear. Clear cubes indicate purity. Cloudy ice is the result of impurities found in the water and trapped oxygen bubbles. The oxygen in the ice makes it melt faster and the impurities can add taste to the drink.


Ice in cocktails: wow to make good ice cubes

For the best use of ice in cocktails, follow these tips.

  • Use boiled and distilled water to make ice. Hot water also freezes more slowly, producing a piece of clear, smooth ice.
  • Cold water cools quickly and produces brittle ice with lots of air bubbles trapped inside.
  • Also, avoid storing ice in the freezer near foods such as fish or anything else you don’t want to try on your next highball.
  • Last, always use a spoon for ice in cocktails or on the rocks drinks, never your hands or a glass.


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