Ice and Cocktails Go Hand in Hand
One might assume the ice in your cocktail is only a minor attribute, simply there to chill and fill the glass. In reality, ice is one of the most crucial ingredients in your drink. Ice can come in all shapes, sizes and tastes and, much like the spirits or mixers, can make or break a perfect concoction. Some cocktails are designed to be drunk very cold and taste much better that way while others simply need one cube to help settle the spirit.
With thousands of different types of cocktails in the world, you may be wondering, "How am I going to know which ice type is best?" Well, to help answer that question, we've complied a few tips on how best to determine the perfect ice type to use in your next cocktail.
We will begin with the flavor of the ice. The important thing to note here is that the ice should not have a distinct flavor. In order to do this, you must make sure your cubes are fresh and cold. And, if you're thinking that ice doesn't have a flavor then try taste testing a freshly frozen ice cube versus one that's been in your freezer for a few weeks. You will immediately recognize the difference.
Ice Size Matters
When it comes to size, the smaller the ice cube the quicker it melts, thus diluting your drink in a short amount of time. Bigger cubes take up less space than a bunch of smaller cubes and, in turn, release less water. Dilution, as all bartenders know, is what makes a drink smoother. This where the general rule not to put your liquors in the freezer comes from. The liquor needs to be at room temperature so it can melt the ice properly.
Here are a few of our favorite types and the mixtures they complement best.
Nugget - crunchy, chewable nuggets
Nugget ice, best produced by Ice-O-Matic's GEMU090, is great for frozen or blended drinks, like margaritas, and those that emphasize the taste of the liquor with simple mixers like a Mojito. After the last sip, the flavor can still be savored from the remaining nuggets in your glass.
Cube - clear, classic four cornered shape
Cubed ice, commonly produced by the EdgeStar IB450SS, is perfect for mixed drinks, especially those made with carbonated beverages, like a classic rum and cola. Large cubes, like those made by the Ice-O-Matic ICEU300FA are also great for shaken drinks like a martini, as the large cubes melt slowly.
Bullet - semi-soft, bullet shaped with a hole in the middle at the base
Bullet ice, commonly produced by portable ice makers like the EdgeStar IP210SS, works great in savory and flavorful drinks like a Michelada or Bloody Mary. Bullet ice is moderately sized and gently releases water which then slowly dilutes the spicy-tomato flavors.
Flake - soft and slow melting
Flake ice, made by Scotsman's MDT3F12 or AFE424A-1A is similar to the ice found in snowcones and commonly used in food and beverage displays. Flake ice is a great ice type for blending daiquiris and margaritas.
Gourmet - sophisticated block shape, slow melting
Gourmet ice is ideal for cocktails served stiff on the rocks, such as your favorite whiskey or vodka. This ice melts extremely slowly due to its size and guarantees to leave your spirits undiluted. Look for the Scotsman CU50GA-1 or the Manitowoc SM-50A for the best Gourmet Ice.
Now that you've got the basics down and have a few examples in mind, you'll be whipping up perfectly chilled and perfectly iced cocktails in no time.
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