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Sometimes I hear people say “don't put too much ice in my drink” because too much ice is for wimps... Then I think to myself, I don't think they fully understand the role of ice in a cocktail. Less ice does not mean more alcohol... Ice is one of the most important ingredients in a cocktail. And if you're afraid ofdilution, then it's probably because you don't quite know how to properly water down a cocktail and why this is necessary. So always trust your (home) bartender, who knows what she/he is doing is right and will ensure that only the dilution occurs that is really necessary to lift the drink to the right level. Once it's in the glass, the responsibility is yours :-) If you take an hour to drink your drink on a warm sunny terrace, yes... it will be watered down after a while! 


Under “Techniques” you can read everything you need to know about ice when stirring and shaking. Ice is not only used to quickly cool your drink, but also to dilute it. Why? This water ensures that the different ingredients in your drink mix better with each other. It also removes the sharpness from the alcohol and also has a positive influence on the aromas in your drink. The dilution reduces the sharpness of the alcohol and the scents come into their own better when you bring the drink to your mouth. 


The necessary dilution is therefore really necessary. Usually the dilution is around 25%. But of course this also depends greatly on the ice you use and how long you shake or stir for. It is important that you do welldry and fresh ice used and preferably ice cubes that are not too small. Of course, they melt faster than slightly larger ones. 

You usually see in a bar that they use nice square clear ice cubes. They have good and beautiful ice cream machines to create this. Purchasing this for your home bar is quite an investment. I personally wouldn't do that unless you have too much money. 

You can also buy bags of ice at the supermarket. But honestly… the quality isn't great. They are often already quite broken and therefore not all of the same size. I personally think it melts too quickly.

I make ice cubes several times a week. If you buy some good ice cube molds and fill them a few times a week and store the ice cubes in a large plastic bag in your freezer, you will have much better quality ice for making your cocktails. Cubes of 2.5/3 cm work very well. Smaller is not recommended. 


You need a lot of ice when making cocktails. You really have to use fresh ice every time, for every drink. After stirring or shaking, throw away the remaining ice. You cannot use this in the drink. Then your cocktail would really water down too quickly. So throw away this ice and if your cocktail calls for ice cubes in the glass, do this with fresh, dry ice cubes. Fill the glass completely with ice. If you add too little ice, your drink will water down faster than you would like. Shame!


Make fresh ice regularly. Using ice cubes that have been in the freezer for months is not a very good idea. Ice cream absorbs odors and flavors from other products in your freezer. So the fresher your ice cream is, the better. 


To prevent dilution, it is also important that your glass is properly cooled. In a warm glass, the ice will naturally melt faster and in a warm coupe glass without ice, your drink will naturally become warmer. Do you have room in your freezer? Place your glasses and your mixing glass in the freezer before you get started. Don't have this space? Then you can also cool the glass by putting ice in it. So you will need even more ice. You can use ice cream from the supermarket for this. You throw away this ice after cooling the glass. 


In addition to ice cubes, other types of ice are also used in cocktails. Crushed ice for example. You can also buy this in bags at the supermarket, but this is often a large lump that you then have to break up. You can easily make crushed ice at home. Place ice cubes in a clean cotton tea towel and beat thoroughly with a saucepan, wooden mallet or rolling pin. You can also buy a so-called Lewis bag for little. I like to use this myself. This cotton bag absorbs the extra moisture well and the end result is nice dry ice. You can have it ready in just a few seconds and you can express your aggression in it. Ideal ;-) You can often order a Lewis bag including a wooden hammer. You can have both for less than 20 euros. Definitely a good addition to your home bar. You also have ice crushing equipment. Both by hand and electrically. I've tried both and am not a big fan of either. Of the two, I liked the manual one the best. The electric one can handle very little ice at a time and it takes too long, resulting in the ice being quite wet when you want to use it. Unless you buy an expensive larger device. But then I'd rather spend that money on a few good bottles of drinks and get started with my Lewis bag. 

You can also make crushed ice in many blenders. I don't think this is ideal either. These often grind the ice too fine, resulting in more snow than crushed ice. It melts when you look at it. 


For cocktails in an old-fashioned glass, a large block of ice or a round ball of ice is often a good option. You can find many shapes for this so that you can easily make larger blocks of ice at home. 


Do you want to make your cocktail a real eye-catcher? Then it is highly recommendedclear ice to make. But isn't ice already clear? Well no, not really. Ice cubes always have a piece of white in them. That is the oxygen in the water. You can't just figure this out. You read a lot of tips about special distilled water, boiling water first, etc. etc. Believe me, that really doesn't help. You will continue to have the white oxygen-filled pieces in your ice cream. There are different forms on the market for making clear ice. These are a little more expensive, but I have to say they work well. Truecubes, Eparé Clear Ice system or Ice Forward Box. These produce a nice result from large ice blocks. I let them warm up for a while so that they are easy to cut/chop into pieces and I also make smaller ice cubes from the large block. I then store it in a separate bag in the freezer. Then you have a supply of nice clear ice. You can also get started with an insulated cooler. This requires a bit more time and work and I haven't taken the time to do that yet. But on YouTube you will find many videos on how to do this. 


Then we still havepebbled ice cream. Very small ice cubes that are often used instead of crushed ice. I think it always looks very nice. But most bars have nice equipment for this that has a price tag. I use mini ice cubes instead. You can buy silicone ice molds for mini ice cubes. Looks great in the glass and is very easy to make yourself with these shapes. I always stock up on this too. Yes, I now have three freezers at home… And one of them only contains ice…

Moral of this long story, do not underestimate the role of ice and pay the necessary attention to it! The quality of your cocktail will only improve. As the King of Cocktail, Dale DeGroff, said "ice is the soul of the cocktail". 

Image by Jan Antonin Kolar
Image by Truong Dat
Image by Kike Salazar N
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