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By Block Ice | July 14, 2023

As a bartender, you should consider your choice of ice as carefully as you do your base spirit. Good-quality ice can be one of the most aesthetically pleasing aspects of a cocktail, and the slightest imperfection can dramatically affect the quality of the final serve. Ice not only chills drinks but, as it melts, it becomes a vital part of the cocktail itself and subtly alters the flavor and consistency. However, upgrading your ice game goes beyond just using any ice cubes. Here are three different ways that bartenders can elevate their ice options in their bars:

Store and Handle the Ice Correctly

Maintaining proper hygiene standards when it comes to ice is crucial for bars. Paying careful attention to your ice-making equipment and associated tools is essential to prevent contamination and uphold cleanliness in your establishment:

  • Choose the right ice scoop - Opt for plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, or polycarbonate scoops for handling ice. Serrated tongs also work well to grip small and large ice cubes without chipping or cracking them.
  • Invest in a quality ice bucket - Ensure you have a well-insulated ice bucket with a grate or raised base. This helps keep the ice at the correct temperature and prevents it from sitting in melted water. Always replace the lid after each use and keep tongs outside the bucket for hygienic serving.
  • Maintain an ample ice supply - It is essential to have a continuous and sufficient supply of fresh ice behind the bar throughout the entire shift. Utilizing storage options like chest freezers can provide extra space and allow for restocking ice during quieter periods.

Shapes and Sizes

The size and shape of ice play a significant role in the temperature and dilution of drinks. While maintaining an ideal temperature is essential, excessive dilution can ruin the flavor of a cocktail. The rate at which ice melts is a key factor to consider. Traditional small ice cubes tend to melt faster due to their smaller surface area, leading to quicker dilution. It’s simple math.

Understanding the impact of surface area, it becomes evident that the size and shape of ice directly affect how a drink evolves over time. Large ice cubes or spheres are often preferred, except for certain tropical cocktails. Mixologists and bartenders are embracing one large ice cube or sphere to enhance the drinking experience, ensuring consistency from the beginning to the end. Moreover, these impressive ice chunks make a bold statement, adding to the visual appeal of a well-crafted cocktail. Appreciating the aesthetics of a cocktail is just as important as savoring its taste, making the trend of using specialized ice a vital part of the craft cocktail movement.

Ice Infusion

Infused ice is a creative way to enhance the flavors and aesthetics of your drinks. For instance, drop a few strawberry or raspberry-infused ice cubes into an iced tea for a refreshing fruit infusion that intensifies as the ice melts. Alternatively, add a cube with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, or anise to your favorite whiskey in a rocks glass. It’s important to stay moderate with the number or intensity of the ice cubes, as the spices can become overpowering. With the right balance, infused ice can elevate your drink with the right balance by adding nuanced and exciting flavors.

Infused ice cubes can also add a sense of luxury or occasion to a cocktail, even if the added ingredients aren’t contributing to the overall drink flavor. Edible gold flakes or flowers that match a bride’s bouquet are just a few of the ways you can increase the perceived value of a cocktail.

Good-quality ice contributes to the aesthetic appeal of a drink and can significantly impact its final quality. Ice serves the dual purpose of chilling the drink and subtly altering its flavor and consistency as it melts. Elevating the ice options in bars involves more than just using standard ice cubes. Proper storage and handling of ice, such as using appropriate scoops and insulated buckets, ensure hygiene and prevent contamination. Considering the size and shape of the ice is crucial, as it affects the temperature and dilution of the drink. Larger cubes or spheres are often preferred for a consistent experience, adding visual flair to the cocktail. Furthermore, infused ice cubes can offer an exciting way to enhance flavors or elevate the overall value of a cocktail and take a drink to new heights. By paying attention to these aspects, bartenders can elevate their craft and provide memorable experiences for their patrons.

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