Ice is one of the most underrated, but important parts of mixology. It is the one ingredient that is necessary in every single cocktail (with the obvious exception of hot drinks). Ice cubes not only keep your drink cool, but as it melts, it actually becomes part of your concoction. The wrong ice cube can turn all your hard work into a watery, tasteless drink. Here are four basic types of cocktail ice and when to use them:
- Cubes: The average ice cube is good for basic mixing, shaking, and stirring. The larger the surface area, the slower it will melt and the less diluted your drink will become. Try the King Cube Ice Tray ($8) for extra-large, slow melting ice cubes perfect for Old Fashioneds or any cocktail “on the rocks.” Or, get this awesome tray that makes perfectly round ice “cubes” ($9)
- Cracked ice: Smaller than cubes, this kind of ice melts faster and will be used in strong drinks to dilute them. Typically, bagged ice from the store is cracked. You will find cracked ice in frozen drinks like a Daiquiri or Margarita.
- Shaved ice: Remember snow cones from your childhood? This kind of ice will help you make an adult version. Shaved ice is very fine and is used in a shaker to make a thick cocktail. You can also pour liqueurs directly over shaved ice, like Chambord or amaretto.
- Block ice: This big chunk of ice melts slowly, and is best used in punch bowls and to slowly cool a “straight up” drink that isn’t supposed to be too watery. Use block ice if you make vodka punch or rum punch.