Gin, bourbon, vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, vermouth, seltzer, fruit juice – just a few of the most common components of the modern cocktail. However, at the heart of almost every cocktail recipe is the following line:
“Mix all ingredients with ice.”
As a universal element found in practically all cocktails since the beginning of time, ice effects much more than just the temperature of a cocktail. It also impacts its taste, look, dilution, and volume. Hence, ice is perhaps THE most important component of a cocktail. Whether you are enjoying a mixed drink at your favorite bar or mixing drinks at home with the support of an ice delivery service, here are 5 essential facts about the icy ingredient.
1. Cocktail ice delivery service has existed for centuries.
In 1805, a man named Frederic Tudor – also known as the “Ice King” of his time – delivered premium ice from the lakes of Massachusetts to consumers all over the world. Drinks served with “Tudor Ice” were considered a luxury.
2. Different types of ice are designed for different kinds of cocktails.
Although every modern cocktail recipe calls for ice, there are several forms of ice that are intended for specific types of cocktails.
- Cracked and shaved ice are ideal for frozen drinks as larger forms of ice can clog blender blades and will result in an uneven consistency. Cocktail recipes calling for cracked and shaved ice will most likely indicate specific measurements as these types of ice melt quickly – too much will result in an overly-watery drink and too little can make the drink stronger than intended. This is a commonly requested type of packaged ice that most ice delivery companies like Emergency Ice carry regularly.
- With its large surface area, an ice block is perfect for chilling a cocktail punch at a party or event. Ice sculptures are commonly ordered and used for this purpose. Any smaller form of ice will quickly melt and heavily dilute the punch.
- Ice balls, a recently trendy form of ice, initially gained its popularity in Japan. Its large, voluminous shape is meant to fill the majority of a glass. Cocktails like the Old Fashioned can be paired with an ice ball for a new twist on “on the rocks.”
- The ice cube is the most readily available and versatile ice form compared to its chilly counterparts. Its thick service area makes it ideal for shaking, stirring, and traditional drinks on the rocks. Conventionally, a glass or shaker should be filled 2/3 full of ice when using ice cubes.
3. Size does matter.
In most cases, when a recipe calls for an ingredient, the size of that ingredient has little to no influence on the overall taste of the completed dish, as long as it is properly measured. For example, although it may effect its appearance, a dish that calls for cheese will not taste different if cubed cheese is used instead of shredded cheese. However, this is not at all the case for cocktail drinks. The taste of a cocktail transforms as it breathes – that is, as the ice melts. A large piece of ice melts slowly to preserve the drink for a longer amount of time. On the contrary, small pieces of ice melt quickly, altering the taste and strength of a cocktail in a short period of time.
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4. Clarity is a sign of quality ice.
Cloudy ice is the product of polluted water. Impurities in water trap oxygen bubbles, resulting in ice with an opaque finish. These oxygen bubbles cause the ice to melt quickly, diluting the cocktail and releasing the impurities into the drink, altering the taste. Hence, when ordering from an ice company, be sure to ask about the clarity of their ice products.
5. Don’t sweat it.
For best results, once your ice is delivered, store it in a freezer until immediately before use. Keeping it in an ice bucket will dilute it faster. Fresh ice cubes preserve drinks longer without ruining their taste or composition.