‘Whisky with ice – to have or not to have’ has been a pertinent question but adding ice to any drink changes things around greatly. Whether you’re going for on the rocks, shaking or stirring a martini, or firing up the blender, you need ice. 

Aside from the spirit, mixture, glass, and garnishes, ice is the fifth element and a universal ingredient used in making the most delectable cocktails. Its significance has led to ice programmes becoming a ubiquitous phenomenon in the modern-day cocktail renaissance.

Good quality ice is one of the most aesthetically pleasing aspects of a cocktail, and even the slightest imperfection can have a significant impact on the final serve. So, the next time you make a cocktail, think about this as thoroughly as you think about the base spirit and a mixture. It’s not just to chill your beverages but it also becomes a fundamental component of the cocktail as it melts. It changes the flavor and consistency of the drink gradually because it is the most water added to a cocktail. And how you add ice impacts the final texture, the temperature, and the taste. Using large cubes also allows you to better control how the cocktail is diluted.

Explaining the same, Angad Singh Gandhi, Glenfiddich India Brand Ambassador talks about different types of ice and their uses:

Clear Ice

This is a classic because it looks great and is totally worth pursuing in your home. They are superior to the cloudy, home freezer ones we are used to.

Cubes/Spheres

The idea is to minimize the surface area so that ice melts slowly and the spirit doesn’t get diluted too quickly. You can enjoy your whisky on the rocks with large or standard cubes. This helps you to enjoy your drink slowly without it being watered down.

Block Ice

Block ice is most suitable for chilling drinks without diluting them. I personally use clear block ice in everything from a refreshing whisky highball to spirit-forward tipple. One can purchase custom moulds 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.

Cracked Ice

Best used for shaking cocktails! This is ideal for when you’re looking something in between standard cubed and crushed ones. It is preferred in the preparation of stirred drinks; and given that the cold centre is already exposed, it makes for quicker cooling. In addition, it offers more surface area, which helps for proper dilution.

Crushed Ice

Used for slushies, smashes, and pretty-looking cocktails with boozy snow cones. It’s the type that melts fast and is most suited for tropical drinks, juleps, tiki drinks, that 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 cubes in a bag, clean towel, or cloth sack with a mallet.

While talking about the importance of using the right type, Gaurav Sareen, brand ambassador, Monkey Shoulder tells us, “Ice serves more than just cooling drinks. When it melts, it becomes a part of the beverage. One can have quality ingredients, premium spirits, mixed to perfection, garnished beautifully, and served in the best stemware but if the right amount/type of ice is missing, it can completely ruin your concoction. The size and density of your ice determine the dilution factor.”

Americans and Europeans had already established a love for icy-cold beverages by the time Tudor died in 1864. Without this forefather of ice, contemporary cocktail culture would never thrive,” Asmani Subramanian, Diageo India Brand Ambassador says.

Zaheen Khatri, Trade Advocate of Grant’s India explains how to choose the right one for you. She says it depends on multiple factors.  When making a decision ask yourself these questions:

What’s in that drink?

The kind of drink you’re making matters! We use large clear blocks for a Highball, crushed ice for tropical drinks, cracked ice for stirred cocktails, and spheres for an old-fashioned/ Negroni.

Do you want to keep it dense or light?

Whether the ice is being used to play up or bring down the density impacts the choice you make.

Sipping-gulping-slurping! What and how?

How long one takes to finish the drink influences the decision. So, make your choice wisely, depending on if you’re having a drink like a mojito that one likes to finish up fast or an Old-fashioned that must be sipped and savoured slowly.

What are the weather conditions?

A drink on a lazy afternoon during summers in India will require more cubes in comparison to a drink in the Scottish Islands, so yes, weather conditions play an important role.

(Featured Image Credits: Unsplash)