Cocktail ice is an essential ingredient that many overlook. Not only does it keep your drink at a chilled temperature, but it also impacts the overall quality of the cocktail.
Adding the right type of ice to your drink will help to ensure that all the ingredients bind together to create one, delicious mixture. Plus, it’s ideal for those who are wanting to broaden their horizons and try something stronger but need to slightly water down the intense flavours.
But why does the type of ice you use matter? Well, the shape and size of whichever type of ice you use can affect how quickly it melts and therefore how much water gets diluted into your cocktail. It’s also well-known that adding a little bit of water to your drink can open up some of the spirits and enhance the aromas.
At NIO Cocktails, ice is a huge aspect of our ready-made cocktails as it’s the only ingredient you need to add to enjoy them to the fullest! Here we’ve compiled a list of the 6 different types of ice to use in cocktails.
1. Standard Ice Cubes
Standard sized ice cubes are roughly 1 inch by 1 inch and are the most commonly used type of ice for many bartenders as they fit easily into every type of cocktail glass. Ice cubes have a large, thick surface which is ideal for almost all cocktails because it prevents them from melting too quickly, so you can enjoy a perfectly chilled drink without it losing its original flavour. They're also the perfect size and shape for cocktails that need to be either shaken or stirred.
We'd recommend filling at least 2/3 of the glass before adding your ice cubes. A general rule of thumb is if your ice is floating there's too much cocktail and not enough ice, so a bit of trial and error may be required before finding the perfect balance.
2. Large Ice Cubes
Large ice cubes are typically 2 inches by 2 inches and melt slower than standard ice cubes, which reduces the amount of water that is diluted into the cocktail. Ideal for drinks such as a Manhattan in a lowball glass, these large ice cubes look impressive and will keep your drink chilled for longer. Large ice cubes can also be used for shaking to add extra texture to cocktails but are not recommended for stirring as they are too large and melt too slowly.
If you have a bottle of fine whiskey or scotch that you want to enjoy, then pouring it in a glass over a large ice cube is best as it'll keep the drink cool without losing any flavour.
3. Ice Balls
Ice balls are usually for straight spirits or cocktails such as an Old Fashioned in lowball glasses as, similarly to large ice cubes, they keep the drink cool and melt slowly. The main difference between ice balls and large ice cubes is that the spheres are seen as more aesthetically pleasing and are often used as a garnish.
Ice balls are said to melt even slower than large ice cubes as they have the smallest ratio of surface area to volume. Meaning the liquid that surrounds the ball will be chilled, but at the bottom of the glass, it'll most likely be at a regular temperature. If you want to chill the drink a little more, ice balls are easy to stir.
4. Collins Spears
Collins spears are an unusual type of ice that you may not have seen around that often but will make your drink look exceptionally cool. This type of ice is shaped like a long, thick block and is most commonly used in cocktails that require a highball, or Collins, glass such as a Gin and Tonic or a Mojito.
This particular type of ice is perfect for keeping the entire drink in the tall glass cold without diluting its flavour as it will melt extremely slowly. You can easily find Collins spears ice trays online so you can make this type of ice at home, but make sure you have a glass that's tall enough for the ice to fit. Alternatively, you can simply stack up the standard ice cubes but it won't look as visually pleasing.
5. Crushed Ice
Crushed ice is a very popular ice type for cocktails such as a Mint Julep, Frozen Daiquiri or any other drink with a slushie-like consistency. It adds plenty of texture to the cocktail, makes it ultra-refreshing and dilutes it just enough so the spirits aren't too strong.
There are several ways you can make crushed ice for your cocktails at home. The easiest way is by putting standard ice cubes in a blender, but you may risk losing some ice as it melts from the heat of the motor. Another method is to place the ice cubes on a tea towel, wrap them up and then use a mallet to crush them before pouring them in your favourite drink!
6. Dry Ice
Dry ice will really add something extra special to any cocktail! Perfect to use for parties, especially around Halloween, this type of ice creates an amazing smoky effect. However, using this type of ice can be dangerous as it typically has a temperature of -78.5 °C, so using protection such as gloves and tongs is highly recommended to avoid burns.
Having dry ice in your drink does not affect the flavour and will keep it very cool. It's perfectly safe to include in your cocktail as the ice sinks to the bottom and will melt completely by the time you reach the end. Just avoid tilting your glass too far so the solid form doesn't touch your lips. This type of ice is tricky to make at home but you can generally pick it up in supermarkets. If you're having a party, it's recommended to get the dry ice just a few hours before the event as it will only last for around 24 hours.