Spirit Cruises Summer 2019 Leaderboard

Top 3 Ways to Serve Ice in Cocktails

by The Drink Nation on Sep 27, 2011 in Liquor
Top 3 Ways to Serve Ice in Cocktails

If you’ve spent time in any high-end drinking establishments lately, you may have noticed a new element in your beverages. More than just an afterthought, ice is recognized by today’s mixologists as one of the crucial constituents of a proper cocktail.

History

Prior to the 1800s, liquor was imbibed at room temperature, or in hot beverages such as a toddy. In the first half of the 19th Century, Fredric Tudor – known as "Boston's Ice King" – came up with the idea of cooling drinks with his blocks of ice, harvested from Walden Pond and other freshwater springs. His brainstorm quickly caught on, and people have been enjoying refreshingly chilled cocktails ever since.

In the 20th Century, ice served in commercial establishments became bastardized. Machines cranked out air-bubble-ridden chips as quickly as possible, in tubular shapes designed to take up space in a glass. Enter Sasha Petraske of NYC’s Milk & Honey, who in the ‘00s introduced the idea of designer ice, where each cube or shaving was crafted specially for each libation to create the optimum drinking experience. Bartenders quickly embraced this trend, and have begun to think of ice as one of the most important ingredients in their arsenal.
 
Today

These days, better bars generally use three types of ice to create differing effects. The main goal of all is to extend the prime drinking period (with the liquid at 20–25 °F) as long as possible. This allows the drinker to slowly sip and savor, instead of trying to chug the whole thing down before it becomes overly diluted.
 
Kold-Draft Cubes

Enter Kold-Draft, which currentlyseems to have a monopoly on high-end ice makers. The machines produced by this company use a slow-freezing process that occurs from the bottom up. As the liquid cools, it is constantly stirred, forcing all the air bubbles to move to the top. This assures cubes are clear and contain no cloudiness, which allows them to melt much more slowly. Drinks are often shaken or stirred with Kold-Draft cubes, to achieve optimum coldness without a lot of dilution, and then served over more cubes or “up,” in a coupe or martini glass.
 
Big Rock

For classic cocktails such as an Old Fashioned, bartenders will use a solid lump of ice, hand-carved from large block. The big piece of ice – almost the size of the glass – has a high volume and low surface area, so it melts extremely slowly, providing cooling action while avoiding watering down the booze. At Philadelphia’s Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., the “Coal Cracker Cocktail” is a current example of such a tipple, composed of rye whiskey, Galliano, blackberry syrup, sarsaparilla tincture and Angostura bitters. Manager Colin Shearn tells us the Franklin gets their block ice delivered in big 50 to 75-lb blocks.
 
Cracked or Shaved

Cracked or shaved is the third useful form of ice, and it is mainly used for a specific type of drink called a swizzle. In a tall glass, crushed pieces of ice are packed in, all the way to the top. As a rule, cocktails served this way are mixed up potent and sweet, and when they are poured through the ice, the high surface area provides a welcome bit of melt that rounds out the flavors. However, because there is so much ice, and it’s so tightly arranged, the entire glass achieves a “critical coldness,” a frost develops on the outside, and the ice does not dissolve any further.

So next time you stop in to your favorite speakeasy, pay attention to what cools down your order – it’s likely more than just simple frozen water. If you want to get in on the ice game at home, check out these extra-large silicone trays that allow you to freeze up big, compact blocks, or Muji's molds to make huge ice spheres of your own.

Photo: ice used at Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. by Danya Henninger
h/t Barry's Homebrew Outlet for the Muji mold link

Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Local Winery Spotlight: Vox Vineti Wines

Local Winery Spotlight: Vox Vineti Wines

Ed Lazzerini says his goal is clear - to make world class wine in Pennsylvania. From the taste of it, he is well on his way. ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Nov 21, 2020
Best Bars for Outdoor Drinking in Philadelphia, 2019

Best Bars for Outdoor Drinking in Philadelphia, 2019

Whether it's to enjoy the first warm breezes of spring or the unexpected sunshine of a crisp day in fall, Philadelphia is full of great places to drin...read more ›

by Drink Philly Apr 11, 2019
The History of The Boulevardier Cocktail - and How You Can Make it at Home

The History of The Boulevardier Cocktail - and How You Can Make it at Home

In this history segment, we take a closer look at a classic cocktail: The Boulevardier....read more ›

by The Drink Nation Nov 2, 2020
SPONSORED
The Best Cocktail Bars in Philadelphia

The Best Cocktail Bars in Philadelphia

Here it is - the definitive list of Philadelphia's best cocktail bars....read more ›

by Drink Philly Dec 13, 2017
PA Voter Project Seeks to Pay Unemployed Restaurant Workers to Work Election Polls

PA Voter Project Seeks to Pay Unemployed Restaurant Workers to Work Election Polls

Power the Polls PA is looking for unemployed restaurant workers to work the polls and will pay for their time....read more ›

by Drink Philly Sep 16, 2020
You Can Now Get Cocktails To-Go in Center City Philadelphia

You Can Now Get Cocktails To-Go in Center City Philadelphia

Restaurants throughout the Center City limits are offering pre-made cocktails in special take out containers...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jul 18, 2020
Cocktails to Go in Bars & Restaurants Legalized in PA During Lockdown: Here's Where to Get Them in Philadelphia

Cocktails to Go in Bars & Restaurants Legalized in PA During Lockdown: Here's Where to Get Them in Philadelphia

Bars & restaurants in PA can now sell cocktails-to-go. Here's where to find them in Philadelphia...read more ›

by Drink Philly May 21, 2020
Relief for the Bar, Restaurant, & Hospitality Industry in Philadelphia

Relief for the Bar, Restaurant, & Hospitality Industry in Philadelphia

Right now the hospitality industry is—to put it lightly—struggling. We created a resource directory for an...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Mar 20, 2020
Where to Host a Private Event in Philadelphia

Where to Host a Private Event in Philadelphia

Whether it's for the holidays or you have a special birthday coming up, Philadelphia has some amazing options when it comes to event spaces. ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Nov 26, 2018
Where to Find Beer, Wine, & Liquor To Go in Philadelphia During the Pandemic

Where to Find Beer, Wine, & Liquor To Go in Philadelphia During the Pandemic

Bars and restaurants are officially closed (and offering take-out and delivery only), so your favorite bartend...read more ›

by Drink Philly Mar 18, 2020
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close