If you are the type who has a couple of drinks on the regular, you would know that ice often spells the difference between a perfectly balanced cocktail and a bad one. Ice affects temperature, dilution and the volume, as well as the taste of the cocktail. If you frequent cocktail bars, you probably have heard a lot about ice that, scientifically speaking, is not true.
Most bars purchase packaged ice from suppliers, but some dutifully create their very own ice cubes or spherical ice. As part of the industry, these bartenders and owners know a lot about their craft. But how much do they know about ice? Here are some myths about ice you should stop believing.
False. Dissolved minerals, gases and other impurities in water are part of what makes ice cloudy, but you can make perfectly clear ice without using boiled or distilled water. The clearest ice is ice that freezes slowly and without super-cooling, which means ice that forms right at zero degrees Celsius. This can be achieved by using a cooler, a temperature controller or starting with hot water.
The argument behind this common bar talk is that more surface area means faster melting and that means more dilution. Dilution makes cooling possible, which means the chilling power of ice comes from the heat of fusion, the heat ice uses up from its surroundings when it changes properties. In simpler terms, the faster the ice dilutes, the more the drink cools.
But sometimes, large ice cools the atmosphere instead of the drink. In which case, smaller bits of ice might be preferable to large ones. It’s easier for smaller ice cubes to rearrange and stay submerged in the drink as you consume it, keeping the liquid, not the glass, cooler for longer.
Extremely false. When you add ice to a glass of Scotch, you chill it, and when you chill Scotch, fewer aromatic compounds are released into the air. This simply means to drink Scotch with ice is to experience much less of its potential. However, adding ice to Scotch is also okay because it also benefits from water.
Water changes its solubility, highlighting particular flavors while masking others. It also reduces the burn and helps make it more palatable. Whisky stones prove that chilled Scotch also sells.
There is a science to the perfect cocktail. It takes more than a bit of this, a drop of that, a few seconds of vigorous shaking and then of careful pouring. The mere use of ice, for example, makes the most of the importance of balance and chemistry. Take time to appreciate the perfect cocktail, and if you haven’t found it yet, start your search now.