The Mixology Talk Podcast, Episode Thirty Eight
It’s probably the most overlooked cocktail ingredient, even though it could be more than 20% of your drink: this week it’s all about ice!
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In today’s Episode…
It’s all about ice! We don’t normally talk about Ice as a cocktail ingredient but maybe we should. As it chills your drink, the ice can add 20-30% volume to the cocktail. So it’s definitely not something to overlook!
Using Stuff that Comes Out of Your Fridge: Cubes and Crushed
For folks at home, feel free to use the ice that your fridge makes automatically. Just make sure that you don’t have anything too fragrant in your fridge. Ice can retain aromas and make your drink taste “off.”
If you’re looking to make square ice (or other shapes) , Tevolo makes some great ice molds in all shapes. They are easy to use and we’ve had good results with them. You can also have some fun with your ice, using wacky ice molds… a couple we mentioned are below.
- Tevolo Sphere Ice Molds
- Square Ice Cubes: Large and Small versions
- Kotobukiya Star Wars: Death Star Silicone Tray
- Gin and Titonic Ice Tray
Hand Crushing Ice
Some bartenders swear by hand-crushing their ice. Typically, this is done using a Lewis Bag and Mallet. According to Chris, this method keeps the ice drier than, say, just pulling crushed ice out of your fridge. If any crushed ice experts are out there, we’d love to get your thoughts! Is hand-crushed ice better… and why?
There are two main ways to make clear ice at home: Directional Freezing, and just freezing very, very slowly. Camper English is arguably the internet’s expert on clear ice, so check out his blog for more information. For another approach, check out the Weird Science of Ice and How to Make “Premium Ice” at Home. Brian Johnson from Better Cocktails at home also has a video on how to make clear ice.
Try freezing some stuff in your ice. Its a pain but it looks amazing!
- Want to try putting flowers in ice? Here’s how Chris did it
- Check out Chris’ many attempts to perfect Color Changing Ice
Bars with Great Ice Programs:
There are bars out there that take their ice programs to a whole new level. From breaking down 300lb blocks of ice with picks and chainsaws to ordering custom ice from glaciers in Finland*, here are a couple of bars that are worth looking up. (*I completely made that up – does anyone really do that?)
- The Ice Plant – St. Augustine Florida
- The Aviary Bar – Chicago, Illinois
- Half Step – Austin, Texas
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Now you see, even the most overlooked ingredient can make a difference! Got tips for why people hand-crushed ice? Pictures of ice creations from your past? Let us know in the comments!
I got a Lewis bag a couple years ago, and I’m never going back. One bar I worked at actually tried to get us to use a giant motorized ice crusher, but that resulted in wet, slushy ice – and too much dilution. The Lewis bag is preferable, as the cotton bag soaks up the excess melt water, and it’s also pretty impressive at the bar when I smash the ice with my ice mallet!
Another great episode. Such a great topic. Ice can make or break a drink. I did an investigation a while back on the sphere ice and its reputation of not diluting the drink. In my experiment I found that the sphere ice does not in fact dilute the drink much but it does not cool it either. Among the ways that cooling occurs is the mass transport (convection). When you melt ice you are transferring heat cooling the surrounding. You can read about my experiment here.
Part I: http://nerdmeetsfood.com/2014/03/05/ice-baby-ice-part-i-cold-talk/
Part II: http://nerdmeetsfood.com/2014/03/07/ice-baby-ice-part-ii-ice-evaluation-experiment/
Can’t wait for the next episode
Georgios I am blown away by your analysis! Thank you so much for sharing. Really interesting results about the large format ice!
I like using a Lewis bag because you get to bash out your frustrations! It does in fact give you drier crushed ice, and a nice texture. But it’s a ton of work for a whole round of mint juleps.
Ah good point, I didn’t think about the “working out your aggressions” angle- Great point! 🙂 It definitely sounds like we’ll have to start experimenting with a Lewis bag around here!
I have an ice related question… Ok not really, but I couldn’t find a better place to put it…
Whats your stance on the temperature of your mixers, sodas, juice, etc…? When I do catering bars I like to keep my sodas on ice, as well as my tonic and sodawater and whatever else I have room for; but everyone else just lets them sit out on the bar. I can’t think of a worse way to make a drink than to pour room temperature coke into some ice. IMO a drink made with a ~35F soda is going to taste stronger and better than a drink that’s all watered down with melted ice. Am I just being anal or is this a standard procedure at good bars?
Ideally, yes! You would want to have cold mixers across the board. And in most bars that’s part of the reason why you’ll see sodas on tap, and possibly a fridge for other mixers. The trouble is really just around space. Many bars just don’t have the space in the fridge to store all of the mixers.
Chris said if he can’t keep his mixers cold, what he’ll do is add the mixer and spirit first, then add the ice last to minimize dilution.
But yes – if you can keep your mixers cold that’s definitely better. And if you’re really concerned, it might be worth a side-by-side comparison. Hmm, we might have to do that one in the future 🙂
I just love love this podcasts!!
That changing color chai tea sounds intriguing! I would love to get more info about it!!
Thanks Armando! Here’s a little more detail about the color changing tea: https://www.abarabove.com/culinary-ice/
Beautiful! Thank you so much!