Make Better Cocktails With Cracked Ice From a Vintage Tray

Make Better Cocktails With Cracked Ice From a Vintage Tray
Contributor: Claire Lower

Cocktail people love to talk about the importance of clear ice, but not nearly as much is said about cracked ice, which is too bad, because cracked ice is the best ice for chilling your drink.

According to esteemed cocktail writer Dave Wondrich, “stir with cracked ice” is the best advice he can give you — and that’s saying a lot, because Wondrich has a lot of advice to give.

The logic behind this tip is straightforward: cracking ice increases its surface area, which leads to “faster chilling and more dilution, but not too much.

You can buy bags of cracked ice, or you can crack it yourself by whacking it with a bar spoon. Or, you could invest in one of these adorable vintage ice cube trays that cracks a whole bunch of frozen water at once . (You can find them on Etsy).

Screenshot: Claire Lower
Screenshot: Claire Lower

I don’t know if the inventor of this particular type of tray intended to create such an elegant cracked ice maker. I suspect it was simply the easiest way to break ice into cubes that would fit into a glass, given the materials widely available at the time. It doesn’t really matter what the intention was — this thing absolutely shatters the mass of frozen water it’s set down in, creating shards and rough cubes of all different shapes and sizes, which means you get a whole bunch of cracked ice at one time. If you stir a lot of cocktails, you should probably get one.

You may think it frivolous, but good cocktails require a bit of frivolity. In fact, I would argue that frivolity is part of the fun. You know what’s not fun? Having to crack ice by hand with a bar spoon every time you want to drink a martini, a Manhattan, or any other drink that benefits from chilling and dilution. Plus, pulling the ice-cracking lever is very satisfying.

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