Expert Mixologist Explains Why Your Ice May Be Ruining Your Cocktails

  • There’s one overlooked cocktail ingredient that’s arguably the most important of all — the ice.
  • Many features of your ice can affect the rate at which it melts, affecting the ratios of your drink.
  • Cocktail-mixing expert Ana Gracia says not to put your ice near certain foods.

The first things most cocktail-mixing amateurs consider when it comes to mixing a cocktail are the base, the modifier, the flavoring, and the garnishes.

However, there’s one ingredient that’s often overlooked — and it’s arguably the most important component of all: the ice.

Spanish barmaid Ana Gracia, winner of the first edition of the Cointreau Queens Competition and mixology expert, started out in the world of cocktail-making in Le XIX bar in Seville, in the south of Spain. She currently runs The Traveller in capital city, Madrid.

“Ice is super, super important but more often than not, we don’t give it much thought,” Gracia told Business Insider.

Why the ice in your cocktail can make or break the drink

Whatever your poison is, Gracia said that you may be putting a lot of effort in to choose quality liquors, juices, and garnishes but that in the end, your drink may end up totally altered — and possibly ruined — because of the ice you’re using.

“Good ice will keep a drink cool but bad ice won’t just cool your drink down; it will melt more rapidly and dilute the drink, causing it to lose all its delicate notes and nuances,” she explained.

Expert barmaid Ana Gracia, preparing a cocktail.

Expert barmaid Ana Gracia, preparing a cocktail.

Ana Gracia

Generally, cocktails are meant to be savored, and not drunk quickly.

If you’re going to take your time with your drink and your ice melts too quickly, the drink will end up over-diluted and its flavor will be altered.

Size matters when it comes to cocktails

Obviously, it makes sense to try and avoid adding ice to a drink if the cube will melt too quickly.

The best thing to do to prevent this, according to Gracia, is to opt for a large cube in your drink.

If it has a low surface area to volume ratio, the cube will melt more slowly.

While keeping your drink cold, it also reduces the risk of your drink ending up watered down.

In short, the little ice cubes you get out of your freezer tray may not be the best thing to add to your drink.

Be careful where you store your ice

Another worthwhile piece of advice is to be careful about where you keep your ice in the freezer.

It’s probably not too savvy to keep your ice cube tray on the same shelf as fish or other pungent foodstuffs.

ice cube tray

It’s important to carefully consider where you put your ice in the freezer, as well as the size of your ice cubes.

shekhardino/ iStock

This is because the smell can actually transfer over to your ice, according to Gracia.

This can then in turn transfer over to the drinks to which you’re adding your ice.

You can ascertain the quality of your ice just by looking at it

According to cocktail expert Camper English, ice cubes that have a cloudy or cracked surface, or even those with small air bubbles inside, aren’t the best to use in your drink.

According to English, author of the Alcademics blog, those air bubbles can end up causing cracks that favor the melting speed of the cube.

friends drinking cocktails alcohol

Generally, cocktails are meant to be savored; not drunk quickly.

Dasha Petrenko/Shutterstock

His philosophy is that the best type of ice to add to a drink shouldn’t just be large; it should also have a polished and transparent appearance.

English even went as far as devising his own method known as “directional freezing.”

According to English, your freezer has to be insulated to ensure the direction in which the water freezes can be controlled, so that impurities don’t end up in the middle of the ice.

In theory, this method allows you to produce perfect “crystal clear” ice at home.

Clearly, the ice you use is just as important in your tipple as the booze and the juice.

Leave a Comment