For the better part of decade ice has become increasingly important in drinks and bartenders have begun thinking of ice as a pivotal ingredient in their cocktails.
There are three main functions ice plays when used in cocktails - temperature, dilution and volume.
Temperature plays a huge part in the enjoyment of a drink for several reasons. It is a crucial variable in cocktails as it allows the maker to maintain control over how the drink will taste for the duration of time the consumer is drinking it. Much like a chef designing a meal to be served hot, a bartender has designed your drink to be served cold.
The human palate can detect different flavours at different temperatures. Ever wondered why it is much easier to drink a shot that has come from the freezer than one that is room temperature? Why your first sip of a Martini is more delicious than the last? The reason is that ethanol cannot be tasted below -3 degrees Celsius. So, when we are working with spirits it is hugely important to have the drink chilled to the correct temperature. Colder drinks will also tasteless sweet. As a cocktail has been designed to be enjoyed at a particular temperature, allowing it to warm up too much can throw the balance while drinking.
Carbonation is also heavily reliant on temperature. CO2 loves the cold and will keep that delicious effervescence in your favourite Tanqueray & Tonic lasting longer. By having your drink served over ice the tonic will not go flat and you will continue to have those delightful bubbles dance on your taste buds from the first sip to the last.
The second most important role ice plays in drinks is dilution. Dilution refers to reducing the strength of a liquid with water. Some cocktails are intended to dilute heavily such as spirit heavy cocktails like the Julep or Bramble. These call for small pellets of ice that will melt quickly due to their larger surface area to volume ratio.
Others, such as the Old Fashioned and Negroni, are stirred down to the perfect dilution by the bartender and need very little additional water once the cocktail reaches the consumer. This calls for a very large ice cube that will keep the drink at the optimum temperature without melting too much.
Lastly, some drinks are served without ice at all like a martini or margarita. These are chilled and diluted to the ideal level during service and intended to be drunk quickly once poured, so need no further interaction with ice.
The final important role of ice in drinks is volume. When creating a drink, a bartender will select the perfect sized glass to hold the liquid AND the ice to keep the drink at the correct temperature and dilution. Removing ice will quickly destroy the balance of a drink. It means the bartender has to change the serve by one of three options. Change to a smaller glass, serve the drink in the same glass but only half full, or (the most common, but least favourable) fill the remaining space in the glass with additional mixer. Given that the alcohol portion will remain the same, once the additional mixer is added, the ratio of spirit to the mixer will be off, and the drink will be out of balance.
Education is key when it comes to changing perceptions of how much ice to have in a drink. It is important to remember that ice keeps ice cold. The more ice you have, the less it will melt and thus maintain the drink as it was intended to be served.
Many people are unaware of this fact and they will ask for less ice thinking they will get a stronger drink. What they will actually end up with is a warm, watery drink with too much mixer.
As you can see, ice is imperative to controlling the temperature, dilution and volume when creating your perfect drink. Understanding this and choosing the correct ice for your services will ensure it remains delicious from start to finish.
Disclaimer: The article has been contributed by Evonne Eadie - Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador – West. The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and views appearing in this article do not reflect the views of Deccan Chronicle and Deccan Chronicle does not assume any responsibility and liability for the same.