Bartenders consider ice the most important ingredient in mixed drinks. Ice chills spirits and mixers, which are typically stored at room temperature. The slight melting of ice in a shaker helps create a balanced tasting drink.
How to add ice to stirred drinks
The purpose of ice is to chill and dilute a drink, adding the requisite amount of coolness but also opening up the flavours of a spirit. With that in mind, you just need to add enough cubes when stirring or shaking a mixed drink for both chilling and dilution to occur. Place around 4 to 6 cubes in your glass or mixing glass – any glass that will withstand stirring will do – and proceed. You can try freezing different-shaped cubes in your freezer using various moulds. And use different sizes as well by freezing a whole container full of water. Try making a large block for a party and chipping off pieces carefully using a small saw to really impress your guests. Or create a mini-ice sculpture by carving different shapes. A clear chunk that exactly fits the circumference of your glass is ideal for a stirred drink, looking particularly dramatic with a darker spirit, and with a chilling but not over-diluting effect. Where possible use filtered or bottled water for fewer impurities – making for a cleaner, clearer look.
How to use ice in a shaken drink
Add enough ice to half-fill to two-thirds fill a shaker and then pour in the ingredients before shaking. The look isn’t so important as at this point you just want to chill the drink with some dilution – and crushed ice will over-dilute. Having strained the liquid you can then fill the glass with crushed or cracked ice for the final presentation. Crushed ice is used in the Daiquiri – fill the glass first before carefully pouring in the other ingredients so that it soaks through the ice. Cracked ice should also be placed first in the glass, and is ideal in sweeter drinks, or those with fruit juices. Don’t use hollow ice cubes as they are fragile and can dilute the drink without chilling properly. If you can get them, rounded cubes are better as the corners on cubes rub off quicker, diluting the drink faster. And if you’re muddling in the shaker, add the ice afterwards.
For a lowdown on ice watch our video with more about the frozen blocks here