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Ice: The Most Important Ingredient In Your Cocktail

When people stop to think about what goes into an amazing cocktail, few will actually list ice as a key component. We're here to tell you that if you're into cocktails you should absolutely consider this a vital ingredient. We've rounded up some ice basics and easy tips to help you up your cocktail mixing game.

The Basics of Mixing with Ice:

Ice is essential for any good cocktail. Ice not only chills your drink; it also provides the perfect amount of dilution to the alcohol. (About 25% of your cocktail should come from diluted ice.)

One of the most common missteps when making cocktails at home is not using enough ice to dilute your drink. Here's some tips on how long to mix your drink.

Shaken: If you're using a stainless steel shaker you'll know your drink is diluted (and chilled) to the proper levels once the outside of the shaker develops a frosty look and feel. We suggest investing in a Boston Shaker for this reason. You'll get a better feel on the drink than using a plastic shaker.
Stirred: When making a cocktail in a mixing glass, watch the edges of the ice cubes as you stir with the bar spoon. The cubes will lose their sharpness and start to round off, that's your cue to pour and serve.

History Lesson:

When cocktail culture was first created, ice was not a common ingredient in any drink. Because of how costly it was to make and transport, ice was a luxury reserved primarily for preserving food items.

It wasn't until early in the 19th century that ice became more readily accessible and started making its way into our drinks. And it was thanks to a Boston businessman that we now get to enjoy a refreshing margarita on the rocks, well…kind of.

Frederic Tudor, son of a wealthy Boston lawyer, is credited as the founder of the ice trade. He began making ice from fresh water ponds surrounding the city and distributing that ice for a profit; first to Boston area bars and later to Europe, the Caribbean, and beyond. All hail the Boston Ice King.

Making Great Ice at Home:

If you watch closely next time you're at a high-end cocktail bar, you'll see the bartenders often pay as much attention to the ice as they do the rest of the ingredients. Bars like Milk and Honey in NYC have even gone as far to call for specific types of ice depending on the drink. They're not alone, in Japan many bartenders carve ice cubes by hand from large, crystal clear blocks, for each customer.

Now, we're not saying there's something wrong with grabbing a bag of ice on the go, but we are saying it's pretty easy to make quality ice at home. If you're as cocktail obsessed as us, give these easy tricks a try:

1: Start by taking cold tap water and boiling it on the stove two times. Let it cool between each time you bring it to a boil. The more times you boil the water the purer it will be.

2: In a clean, large, plastic Tupperware pour in the water once it's cooled. Let the block of ice fully freeze.

3: Remove the ice from the freezer and the plastic container. Use a cleaver to saw into the ice, three lines on each side. Don't cut the block fully, go about half way through then use a clean flathead screwdriver to break the ice into cubes.

This ice is good to go. Use it as is, or smash and use as crushed ice in a cocktails like a julep or whiskey smash.

Want to take it a step further? Use the above process and add herbs, flowers, or other flavors to the ice before freezing.

Planning a brunch? We'd serve these pickle juice and horseradish ice cubes with Bloody Mary's. Just sayin'.