From spoons to giant cubes, specialty ice has spread from high-end mixology bars to casual venues looking to improve the quality and experience of their drinks. But to what extent do these fancy ice cream molds affect your drink, and to what extent are they just for show?

While some cocktails are determined in part by how icy they are in a mint julep, chances are you won’t ruin the drink by using what’s in the freezer. But if you want to add some visual flair to your homemade concoctions, a few extra ice cream molds can be an easy and inexpensive way to spice up your drinks.

There are two basic rules to follow. First, your drink is not cooled by the ice itself, but by the cold water melting on the ice. Second, large blocks of ice melt more slowly (and thus dilute and cool the drink more slowly) because of the smaller surface area in contact with the liquid.

Here are some ice cream shops that know what they’re doing, and whether it’s worth it.

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Standard 1×1 inch die: You know them, you love them. These cubes are standard in most decent bars, provide even, time-weighted dilution, and work in almost all drinks that don’t require special ice. While most automatic ice machines in home combos/freezers don’t produce these cubes, one of the most cost-effective upgrades a home bartender can make is to purchase a set of silicone molds so you always have a few 1×1 inch cubes on hand to serve.

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Big Cube / King Cube / Old Fashioned Stones : This is your starting point for the demonstration. The idea is that you use just one cube for a smaller dilution in things you will drink slowly, such as upcoming alcoholic cocktails or simple pouring on stone(brick). Designed for use in masonry glass, they create a visual effect that says: Hey, I’m a guy who cares enough about cocktails at home to have an ice cream mold that’s only good for one thing.

If you opt for large cubes, the question is how quickly you want to finish your drink. If you sip it for 20 minutes, you’ll get an even dilution that gives each sip a uniform taste without being watery. If this is your first pour after a long day and won’t last more than a few minutes, it’s best to use standard-sized stones, which have a more immediate effect on dilution.

 

Note that it is usually a waste of time to stir or shake a smoothie with large cubes. You just have to stir or shake longer to get the same effect as with regular ice.

Collins’ Spears: Although they are quite rare, they should work like the doubles above, but they are shaped like a rectangle of about 1×5 inches so that one unit fits into the Collins/neighbor pot. While the theory remains the same (slower dilution for longer sips), in practice they are less functional due to the types of drinks they are used for.

Beverages served in tall, narrow glasses and Collins glasses usually contain a gaseous element (sparkling wine, soda, etc.), so the nature of this slow sipping ice tends to result in a flat drink. In addition, because of their larger volume, these drinks are already less alcoholic than an Old Fashioned, so it is not possible to maintain the alcohol profile of these drinks by slowing down the dilution somewhat.

They are, however, impressive.

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Ice spoons: They serve the same function as other large rocks, but are designed to slow thinning even more because their spherical shape further reduces the surface area of the ice by eliminating the corners. They are often used for form, unless someone wants to make fun of how quickly the ice melts the moment they plan to drink. However, you can get it in the form of a dead star, which is undeniably cool.

Crushed/grained ice : The purpose of this type of ice is to cool the drink as quickly as possible, regardless of the dilution.

Crushed ice is often used in drinks such as mint juleps, Moscow Mules, various swirls and tropical drinks. A common theme? All designed for warm weather, so you can cool down quickly while sipping.

If you don’t want a lot of water in your drink, never shake or stir or strain your cocktail over scoop ice. Instead, pour the cocktails over crushed ice or into a scoop just before serving.  Many drinks that use ice are not even chilled before they are served, because the ice has to do that work in the glass.

If you don’t have the equipment to make pebble ice at home, you will probably use crushed ice. If your refrigerator doesn’t have a shaved ice function, the best way is to simply pulverize ice in a blender or put it in the freezer, cover with a towel, and crush it a few times with a rolling pin or other hard object.

Ice for the crescent moon: The kind of ice cream that most consumer refrigerators spit out. Don’t let anyone tell you that these moon-shaped wedges are not suitable for cocktails. Even if you have a mold with 1×1 inch cubes or scoops of Death Star ice cream, it’s often best to shake or stir the half moons to cool the drink and preserve the pretty one for serving.

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Scotch stones / whisky stones : These stone or metal cubes are not actually ice, but are meant to be kept in the freezer and added to drinks to cool them down without diluting the alcohol. However, diluting water is an essential ingredient in cocktails and one of the reasons we stir or shake, so they serve more of an aesthetic purpose than a cocktail ingredient. But if you like the taste of your drink, keep using them.

frequently asked questions

Why is ice important in cocktails?

When shaken or stirred with ice, the cocktail breaks and adds water to the drink. This dilution blends the flavors of the drink as the alcohol and heavy fruit flavors melt to create a softer, more enjoyable drink. There are four basic types or forms of ice: cubed, crushed ice, shaved ice and block ice.

Why do bartenders use fresh ice?

A basic bartending technique, there are many different reasons why we sift cocktails. … Fresh ice in a serving glass lasts much longer than ice in a shaker and keeps your drinks from being too watery. The last reason we like to strain smoothies is to remove the clumpy ingredients.

When shaking the drink, if ice is added to the shaker?

First, fill a shaker with ice. This cools the shaker and chills the liquids as you add them. If you are using a smaller shaker or making more than one drink at a time, use less ice to make more room for the ingredients.

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