Cubed or Crushed: An Ice Breakdown

Pete Capella
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There are few greater things in life than enjoying a nice cold cocktail to begin or end your evening. We all pride ourselves on knowing our favorite drinks and just the right liquors that make them up. We have our regular bartenders who carefully craft our cocktails just the way we like them. But there is often an unsung hero in our glass: the seldom celebrated, frozen, covalent bond of hydrogen and oxygen otherwise known as ice.

With the rise of craft cocktail bars, so rises the importance of ice. But unless you have an exorbitant amount of money to buy a Kold Draft ice system for your house, your home bar ice is pretty simple. Let’s go over a few different types of ice and how they should be used.


Ice Cubes:

These are your standards. You know them. You love them. But why do we use them? The large, thick surface area makes a cube melt slowly and causes less dilution. Ice cubes are good for most mixing scenarios: shaking, stirring or drinks on the rocks. The large, thick surface area makes a cube melt slowly and causes less dilution. Most drink recipes that call for ice do so because they know the shaking or stirring will dilute around 1 ounce of water into the cocktail. The Savory suggests not using your fridge’s automatic ice maker, but instead buying silicone ice cube trays and filling them with bottled water.


Crushed Ice:

Fact: you can’t talk to a cocktail enthusiast without them mentioning a Moscow Mule or a Mint Julep. And if you want your mules and juleps served correctly, you’ll serve them with crushed ice. Luckily for you, if you do have an ice making refrigerator at home, you more than likely have a crushed ice setting. If not, here’s what you’ll need: ice cubes, a Lewis bag and anything big and wooden (ie. your muddler, a rolling pin, a souvenir bat). Place the ice in the bag, tie it shut and beat the living crap out of it. The Lewis bag is great because it actually absorbs some of the moisture and leaves you with drier, cleaner ice.


Block Ice:

Before ice cubes were a thing, every bartender had a big block of ice. He would chip away with his own ice tools and get the type of piece that he needed. With pre-Prohibition cocktails reigning once more, the block ice is back at some bars. You can call your local ice company to get a hold of one. They are actually great for parties and make for a fun DIY table activity.


Ice Ball:

We are seeing these more and more at bars, where they often handmake them. They are a ball just large enough to take up most of your rocks glass, and perfect for whiskey on the rocks, as they are slower to dilute. Because of their popularity, it is now easy to find an ice ball mold, which you can just fill with water and throw in your freezer for when your whiskey or scotch calls your name.

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