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Cocktail Making for Beginners #1: Ice

Cocktail Making for Beginners #1: Ice

When reading about cocktails, you’ve probably wondered,”What’s the deal about ice, anyway? It’s more about the ingredients, isn’t it?”

Well, yes and no. A good cocktail starts with great ingredients, sure, but the amount of ice used and even the type of ice can make a huge difference to the end flavour. As the role of the ice is to dilute the ingredients and keep the drink nicely chilled, it can be the difference between a cocktail being pleasantly palatable or overwhelmingly bitter, sour or alcoholic.

If you’re confused by what ice to use, we’ve got your back. Here are the main types to know about, and a good cocktail recipe should ideally specify which one will best meet the needs of your beverage.

 

Ice Cubes

Ice cubes are usually the main ice of choice for self-made mixologists, and will compliment the majority of cocktail recipes pretty well. As they are slow to melt, they provide the least amount of dilution to the flavour.

Try it in: Strawberry Breeze

 

Ice ‘Rocks’

For drinks served ‘on the rocks’, a large single piece of ice either cube or sphere-shaped probably has the best effect. It’s ideal for drinks that are predominantly spirit-based (like scotch on the rocks) and will dilute just enough to make the flavour pleasant but not watery.

Try it in: Red 7

 

Cracked Ice

Cracked ice is smaller than ice cubes, and can be substituted when cubes would be too bulky or you want more texture in your drink. It can be made easily from simply wrapping ice cubes in a bag or sack and bashing them up with a rolling pin. It might take some work but it’s very therapeutic!

Cracked ice will dilute a drink faster than cubes too, so bear this in mind when using it in your cocktails. It’s therefore a useful ingredient in warmer weather.

Try it in: Raspberry Julep

 

Crushed Ice

Crushed ice is – surprise surprise – cracked ice that has been broken into even smaller pieces. It’s normally best saved for frozen cocktails as it will melt quickly and dilute the cocktail if left for too long. You can make crushed ice easily in a blender and can mix it up between large and fine crystals.

Try it in: Bramble

 

Extra Tips

For those really interested in getting this ice bit right, we recommend using distilled, purified, filtered or spring water to make your ice as crisp and clear as it can be. Store your ice in the freezer away from any strong smells and remember to use it PLENTIFULLY. It’s crucial to achieving the proper temperature for your cocktail and nobody likes bits of melted ice floating around in their drink!

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