Ice may seem trivial, as it is simply frozen water. Put water in your freezer and you get ice, but ice is not just ice. Many bartenders spend a lot of time making clear ice, which was really the standard before mechanical refrigeration. Ice is not just ice, and the ice you use for your cocktail can have a big impact on the taste experience. In addition, there is also a big difference in how you use the ice to make different cocktails.

There are four properties that you should check when using ice, and all four properties are an expression of how good the ice is both in terms of temperature and purity. The four properties are: solid, clear, clean, and dry. If all four properties are achieved, then you have the perfect ice.

Ice before the freezer

In the old days, ice was brought from lakes and rivers and stored in large warehouses. Here, the ice could stand without mechanical cooling for a long time, but how can that be? The answer, which is really relevant to cocktails, is found in the ratio of surface area to volume. The amount of ice that melts is directly related to how much heat the ice receives, and the amount of heat ice can receive is directly related to surface area. As something gets bigger, the surface area increases, but not as fast as the volume. An ice cube 3 times the size increases its surface area by a factor of 9 (surface area increases by square: 32 = 9), and volume by factor 27 (volume increases by power: 33 = 27).

Most things become more compact and shrink as they cool, unlike water. Liquid water is most compact around 4 degrees Celsius, and cooling below 4 degrees will cause it to expand. This is a unique property for water, which is actually quite clever. In winter, the most compact water will fall to the bottom of a lake, which means that the water that is about to freeze into ice will float on top. The ice thus forms from above and moves downwards. Impurities in the water will fall to the bottom together with the compacted water, and mean that the ice on top will be completely clear. In addition to the fact that the water, which is about to freeze, floats on top, it also expands when it freezes into ice by approximately 9%, which means that the ice floats on top of the water.

How to make clear ice in the freezer

A silicone mold in the freezer gives no chance for the impurities in the water to disappear, resulting in cloudy ice cubes.

Professional bartenders use a Clinebell, which is a machine that freezes the ice in reverse (from the bottom up). This is done by stirring the water at the top while the water at the bottom is frozen. Fortunately, you don't need expensive appliances to make clear ice cubes at home, because it can be done with a cooling box. Hot water contains fewer trapped gases than cold water. Therefore, the cooling box is filled with hot water. The cooler is filled up so that it can go into the freezer without spilling anything, but before the cooler is put in the freezer, the water must cool down to room temperature. Water collects air when it is poured, so it is important to let the box stand for a while. In addition, the hot water will probably also thaw your frozen goods.

Different types of ice

Ice is used in different ways in different cocktails. Below, the different types of ice are described, as well as how you make them and how they are used.

Ice cubes

A silicone mold with clear ice cubes
Here we are talking about quite ordinary square ice cubes, such as is used in cocktails such as the White Russian and Old Fashioned. In order to get good ice cubes, I would recommend that you get a silicone mold to make square ice cubes, which can be seen in the picture.

Remember to fill the glass completely with ice so that the cocktail does not get watered down too quickly.

Crushed ice

Crushed ice is regular ice that has been crushed into small pieces. However, the ice must still possess the four properties, so it is not "slush ice". Crushed ice is watered down faster than ice cubes. Bramble is an example of a cocktail this type of ice is used in.

One method of making crushed ice at home is to put ice cubes in a tea towel, then hit the ice with a hammer until it is the right size. In addition to keeping the ice together, the tea towel collects dew water and keeps the ice dry.

No ice

Cocktails served in martini glasses are served without ice. However, ice cubes are still used in the process where the cocktail is made. While making the cocktail, the glass can be chilled using a few ice cubes which are removed immediately before pouring the finished cocktail into the glass. Cocktails served without ice are usually made with the Shake and strain, Shake and fine strain, and Stir and strain methods, which also use ice cubes.