When it comes to preparing any type of cocktails, there is no ingredient more important than ice. Not only does it keep the drink at an adequate temperature, but its chemical properties ensure that all the ingredients merge together into one, delicious mixture. Ice is also a great addition for people who like the idea of strong drinks – like whiskey and vodka – but want to smooth out the flavor.
If you have ever went to a fancy bar, you have certainly seen bartenders experimenting with different shapes and types of ice. Some prefer regular ice cubes, while others craft the ice into intricate shapes using chisels and ice picks. While this is a great showmanship element capable of bringing large crowds to your business, you obviously do not need to carve ice into fancy shapes at home in order to make a great, tasty drink. Here are five different types of ice to use in cocktails.
How to Make Ice
There are several ways to make ice for your home cocktails. The first involves getting a few plastic ice trays – all you have to do is fill them up with water and leave them in the freezer for a couple of hours.
But if you are looking for higher quality ice, similar to the types that bartenders use to impress their clients, you will have to get an ice machine. These units are extremely convenient and, if properly maintained, could last you a lifetime. But the reason why you should pick up a dedicated utility item instead of a regular ice tray is the fact that, based on specialized reviews, the best ice machine brands are capable of producing a wide variety of ice types – the exact types you will need to prepare the delicious cocktails that you would normally have an experienced bartender serve you.
Cube ice (or ice cubes, whichever you prefer) is one of the most basic types of ice. When somebody utters the word, our subconscious automatically makes the connection with cube ice. You can see it everywhere, from commercials to movies and TV Shows. So, what exactly makes cubed ice such a great ingredient for preparing cocktails?
Ice cubes are the universal good choice for the preparation of every drink, whether it is done by stirring or shaking. It can be used both for fruit juices, as well as strong drinks, like vodka or whiskey on the rocks. Ice cubs boast a large, thick surface, which prevents them from melting rapidly and diluting the drink to the point where it loses its original flavor. With that being said, this does not mean you can just throw a bunch of ice cubes into the glass, pour the chosen liquid and call it a day – the ideal ratio is to fill 2/3 of the glass before adding ice cubes.
Ice blocks, on the other hand, are not ideal for small drinks. They are usually used at big parties, where its role is to keep the punch cool while the guests are having fun in the background. To make a perfectly good ice block, you will have to play around with the laws of physics. One way of producing ice block is through directional freezing. As you have probably guessed from the name, it involves ‘’controlling the direction in which the water freezes, so that the last bit to freeze is where all the cloudy parts end up’’.
The source cited above also recommends using an insulated cooler, because it ensures that the cloudy part ends up being at the bottom, not the middle of the cube. An insulated cooler will ensure that the water will freeze into an elegant block of ice. After the process is done, all you have to do is whack it with an ice pick to remove the cloudy parts and shape them however you want.
Going in, crushed ice is ideal if you intend to prepare drink with slushie-like consistency, such as mint juleps, cobblers or swizzlers. Making crushed ice is quite simple, and there are several ways to achieve this. Arguably, the easiest way is to use a blender. The downside of using a blender is a good portion of the ice will be wasted away, melted due to the heat of the motor, so use this method at your own risk.
The best way to produce crushed ice is by using a dedicated machine, but if you do not own one, there is a great workaround that will achieve the same results, and provide a bit of much-needed stress relief. Remove the ice from the trays, place them in a towel or a canvas bag, wrap them up and smack them to pieces using a mallet. Whack the towel or the canvas until the ice gets broken into tiny pieces. Then, all you have to do is simply pour them into your preferred drink.
Cracked ice is smaller than regular ice cubes and melts faster, adding more water to the drinks. It is the ideal compromise between cubed ice and crushed ice. This type of ice is mainly used for blended, frozen drinks such as margaritas or daiquiris because ice cubes have a tendency of blocking and clogging the blade, case in which the drinks end up having an inconsistent texture.
One way of manually obtaining cracked ice is by simply placing an ice cube on the table and hitting it with the back of a tablespoon. Alternatively, you could also apply the method presented in the previous entry – putting several ice cubes into a towel and smacking them with a mallet, only this time stopping short of actually pulverizing the ice.
While this shape is certainly not essential, you could experiment with it if you want to take your ice crafting activities to the next level and impress your guests in the process. These ice blocks are specially designed for serving cocktails in Collins glass and are extremely efficient at keeping the drink cold without diluting its initial flavor. You can either purchase them online or try to make them at home. Either way, if you plan on using them, make sure you own a Collins glass or at least verify if they will properly fit in your glasses.
Ice is as important for the quality of the final product as the ingredients themselves. Certain types of ice, like cubed ice, can either keep the drink cold without affecting the overall flavor, while others, like crushed ice or Colin Spears, can provide the beverage with texture and consistency, like in the case of margaritas. Regardless of the type, if you want to get serious about making cocktails and impress your guests with your ice crafting skills in the process, make sure to follow the tips presented in this article.