A good cocktail can change things – It can lift and freshen up one’s frame of mind. What makes a cocktail taste better you may ask? The most essential component in almost every cocktail is ice – When it melts, it becomes part of the cocktail. Right ingredients mixed in proportion, finished with garnishing, and served in the best stemware, these are the most crucial aspects of serving an excellent cocktail but if the proper amount of ice is missing, your skillfully crafted concoction can turn completely upside down.
To understand how ice serves us more than just cooling our drinks, we got in touch with Angad Singh Gandhi, Glenfiddich India Brand Ambassador. Here’s what he said:
Why using the right ice is important?
Ice in any drink is of extreme importance. The way ice melts give various characters to each stage of the drink.
Ice is used in every single cocktail and it is key to get fresh and dry ice whether you’re in a bar or at home. For instance, using the right ice with your single malt intensifies the taste of the whisky. If you’re a beginner, ice can reduce some of the stronger flavours in a whisky and make it easier to drink. If you belong to the connoisseurs’ club, you might want to choose ice very wisely because ice can have a numbing effect, meaning you get the lesser character in your dram to enjoy.
How do you decide which ice should go with what drink?
Well, the choice of ice can depend on multiple factors like:
a) What kind of drink are you making?
We use crushed ice for tropical drinks, large clear blocks of ice for Highball, spheres for old-fashioned/ Negroni, and cracked ice for stirred cocktails.
b) How long one takes to finish that drink?
Is it something like an Old fashioned to be sipped on or something like a Mojito that one likes to finish up fast?
c) What is the proposed density of the drink?
Whether ice is being used to bring the density further down or solidify the arrangement.
d) What are the weather conditions?
A drink on a lazy afternoon during summers in India will require more ice in comparison to a drink in Scottish Islands.
What are the types of ice and how are they used?
Clear ice is pretty much the talk of the industry because not only does it look great, it’s also worth pursuing in your home. Here are three reasons why clear ice cubes are superior to cloudy, home freezer ice:
-Clear Ice Is Pure Water
When water freezes around those air bubbles, the cloudy ice cubes are holding a lot of extra oxygen. When a carbonated drink like your favourite soda hits the ice, it reacts with the gases in the soda and causes an explosion of extra fizz. If you’ve ever been irritated by having to wait for the fizz to die down, only to discover your glass was less than half full, cloudy ice is the culprit — and clearer ice is likely to boost your quality of life if you don’t like waiting.
-Clear Ice Cubes Melts More Slowly
All that trapped air causes white ice to melt faster than clear ice. A perfectly solid cube packed with only water molecules can maintain its low temperature longer — unlike cloudy ice, which reaches room temperatures faster, thanks to the air bubbles! Slower melting means you get to enjoy a cold drink for longer, without worrying about it getting watered down before you get a chance to finish it.
-Clear Ice Tastes Great
Whether you make it with tap water or distilled water, clear ice just tastes better. Because it’s pure water without the extra air, it doesn’t pick up any “off” flavours from your home freezer the way that cloudy ice does. That’s a big bonus for fans of mixed drinks — or anyone who just wants their cold one to taste exactly as it should.
It is about the surface area of your glass! You can enjoy your whisky on the rocks with large or standard cubes. The idea is to minimize the surface area so that ice melts slowly and the spirit doesn’t get diluted too quickly. This helps you to enjoy your spirit for a long time without it going watery.
Block ice is most suitable for chilling drinks without diluting them. I use clear block ice in everything from a refreshing whisky highball to a spirit-forward tipple. One can purchase custom molds or use standard containers to make ice blocks. Water expands itself, so remember to use a bigger container when making big ice blocks at your home.
Best used for shaking cocktails! Cracked ice is ideal for when you're looking for ice that's somewhere between standard cubed ice and crushed ice. Cracking ice is done by cupping a standard or large ice cube in one hand and whacking it with the back of a spoon or mallet revealing the cold center of the cube. Cracked ice is preferred in the preparation of stirred drinks; given that the cold center is already exposed, it makes for quicker cooling. In addition, it offers more surface area, which helps for proper dilution.
Best for slushes smashes and pretty-looking cocktails with boozy snow cones. Now, remember this type of ice melts fast and is most suited for tropical drinks, juleps, tiki drinks, etc. which are consumed quickly like a mojito or a frozen margarita. If your fridge can serve crushed ice, then nothing like that, else you can get the same effect by crushing your ice cubes in a bag, clean towel, or cloth sack with a mallet.
Using wrong ice changes the taste of the drink. Is it true? How?
Your choice of ice can make or break your drinking experience, e.g. using crushed ice in nice old dram would over dilute your whisky or on the other hand, using a clear block of ice is of no use in a Pina Colada.
Also; make sure your ice is made with clean water and are big blocks (if you’re having it on the rocks). Don’t overdo it, just put one or two cubes in your whisky, it will chill your whisky slightly, melt into water, open the whisky up and then help release all these wonderful aromas and flavours. Chilling subdues the top notes, such as citrus and honey, and emphasises the bass notes, like oak and peat. So there has to be a balance between the top notes and the base notes.