Make Better Ice For Better Cocktails

Fancy bars and experienced bartenders will tell you that in some drinks, the ice makes all the difference. Some bars even serve ice in spheres or spears to maximize cooling without diluting your drink. If you can't afford a fancy ice-shaping machine, you can start improving your home bartending skills by just making better ice. Here's how.

Photo by Baron Valium

Most home ice machines churn out small, brittle cubes or semi-circles, and then dump them into an open container that lets them slowly suck up the smell of everything else in your freezer. If you want better ice, the first thing you'll need is better water – distilled or filtered, preferably. The cleaner your water is, the clearer the ice will be. The clearer your ice is, the more you can be comfortable knowing you're not adding unwanted flavour to your fine Scotch.

The Wall Street Journal suggests you start with an empty freezer and distilled water. If you want to take it to the next level, you can boil the water, letting it cool to room temperature, and then boiling it a second time before freezing it to clear out any impurities. You can also cover the water while cooling or during freezing with plastic wrap to protect it.

Once you have your ice, keep it in the freezer in Ziploc bags until you're ready to use it. Upscale bars have expensive machines that purify and shape the ice into whatever the bartender needs, but for those of us who can't drop hundreds of dollars on a specialised ice-making machine, this is a good start on the road to a better drink.

With Ice, Size Matters [Wall Street Journal via America's Test Kitchen (Twitter)]


    When you boil water you concentrate the impurities.

      Where'd you get that idea?..

        Boiling will concentrate dissolved salts, and heavy metals, by reducing the amount of water through evaporation. As another commenter mentioned, however, dissolved gases will be reduced. Also boiling obviously reduces the number of microbes alive in the water, although freezing probably does about as well in this regard.

    Also, leave it in the freezer long enough to get it rock hard. Ice that hasn't been frozen long enough will tend to melt faster than if you leave it in say, overnight...

    Lifehacker: Adding a touch of class to your alcoholism!

    The boiling gets rid of any dissolved gas = clear blocks.

    ice in scotch? noooo

      A little ice (or water) helps dilute the alcohol and "cuts" the scotch/bourbon. After the third or so glass of straight, strong scotch the mouth can become numb and you don't get the finer notes of the taste.

    Fun fact: Hot water will freezer faster then cold water! We still don't know exactly why... there are a few hypotheses floating around by water is one crazy substance and tends not to follow alot of chemical rules.

      This is true in certain conditions. It's called the Mpemba effect.

    I leave my scotch in the freezer. Because of the alcohol it can't freeze, it's really cold and undiluted. Lovely!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now