Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ice: A Cocktails Best Friend

Let's talk ice!

Noun: the solid form of water, produced by freezing; frozen water.

While the topic of ice may be a seemingly boring subject, ice is actually pretty interesting, versatile and maybe a little more important to you than you think. Without ice, cocktails and mixed drinks would be nowhere. Ice not only chills drinks , but as it melts or is shaken it becomes a part of the mix and because of this, the frozen water deserves more than a little attention.

There are four basic types of ice, and all of them are used in different ways accordingly.

Ice Cubes:

Ice cubes are probably the most popular type of ice, the general rule of thumb: the larger the ice cubes, the better.  Ice cubes are good for almost all mixing, shaking, stirring, drinks on the rocks, or with juices and sodas. Large ice cubes keep your drink colder longer, and melt slower, resulting in less dilution. Less dilution means your drink will maintain its flavor longer and will not become watered down as quickly.

Ice trays may be a pain to dump and refill, but they make a lovely sized ice cube.

 Shaved Ice:

Shaved ice is a great way to cool down a product quickly. This ice is great for molding, packing and shaping around the item you are trying to cool down. It is used frequently for therapeutic applications, to quickly cool meats and sea foods and of course it is perfect for snow cones. Shaved ice is soft so it will not damage your teeth like cubed ice will. The downside to shaved ice is that it melts quickly and can dilute the tastes of beverages if the ice melts before the drink is finished.

Nugget Ice:

Nugget ice may be more commonly known as Sonic ice or Zaxbys ice. Nugget ice is shaved ice that has been moulded into compact, random sized nuggets. This ice is of course, fun to chew, cools drinks quickly and does not stick together.

Cracked Ice:

Cracked ice is smaller than cubed ice and melts faster, adding more water to a drink. This ice is perfect for M A R G A R I T A S, daiquiris and other frozen beverages. Cubes are so large they can clog the blender blades and be inconsistent, cracked ice is small enough to avoid this problem.  Typically, the bagged ice you buy at the store or gas station is cracked ice.

Like all things, the more attention you pay to detail the better the results. So, as far as ice goes, here are some general guidelines to ensure your drinks turn out their best.

  • Don't use ice cubes that have been sitting in your freezer for a month, or even a week. Fresh ice is the best. Ice will pick up all the flavors floating around your refrigerator/freezer and transfer those flavors to your drink  - think frozen pizza or fish.. eww!
  • The colder the ice, the better. The whole point of ice is to cool off your drink. If you are drinking a cocktail, the colder the ice the more "heat" it will pull from the warm spirits and mixers. Cocktails have a high percentage of alcohol so they need to be much cooler to avoid the hot alcohol sensation.
  • Do not put liquor in the freezer. While, this seems like a good idea to increase the coldness of the drink it fails in one very important area: dilution. The liquor needs to be warm enough to melt the ice, and dilute the alcohol, softening the edge a little.

*You walk a fine line with dilution. Dilution is very important to the taste of your drink. Too much dilution (caused by ice melting too fast) is bad because it will water down your drink. However, as I mentioned above you need a little dilution especially for drinks with gin, vodka or other strong tasting liquors because it softens the strong, hot taste of the alcohol.

Scotsman, one of the leading ice maker manufacturers, has recently introduced an ice maker that makes pellet ice. Ice makers are a popular addition to many kitchens, butler's pantries, outside kitchens and basement bar designs today. Companies like Scotsman offer ice makers that make all types of ice. Consumers today find that having an ice maker inside their home is very convenient, not only for entertaining but also for everyday living.

It has been said that ice is to a bartender what a stove is to a chef. It is one of the most important ingredients in a good drink, so familiarize yourself  with the rules above and make your next cocktail drinking experience that much better. Cheers!

2 Appreciated Comments :

Dennise said...

That is really a great one most especially when it is summer.

Frozen cocktails perth

Courtney Foster said...

Thanks for sharing Dennise! Fun cocktails are a must have in the hot Summer!

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