Ice is an essential ingredient to great cocktail making. Unfortunately many customers may think that this is a clever way of reducing the amount of liquid served – those in the know understand that this is not the case. In fact, a drink which is served in a glass that has been filled with ice will stay colder much longer and the ice melts more slowly and does not quickly dilute the drink. Adding only a few cubes to the cocktail will start to melt down almost straight away and quickly appear to water down the drink.
If you are relatively new to cocktail making – why not try out this experiment to demonstrate the effect that ice can have on a cocktail recipe? Using an example of a Classic Martini recipe featuring gin and vermouth, chill the serving glass, garnishes (olives etc) and vermouth in the fridge and place the gin in the freezer. Using the chilled ingredients without any ice – mix these together in the serving glass and drop in the olive or sliver of lemon zest. When you taste the finished cocktail – it will be overwhelming in strength and unlike the distinctive Martini you were expecting. If you then make the recipe using the ingredients stirred with ice in a cocktail shaker and then strained into your cocktail glass, the difference will be quite apparent.
Why is that? The use of ice changes the composition of the cocktail entirely. Here's the science bit! Apart from diluting it – the ice mellows the so called “burn” effect of the strong alcoholic ingredients used in a Martini – yet at the same time, it also releases and enhances their full flavours and aromas. Did you know that this is a method that is widely used in tutored (professional) tastings of products such as malt whisky to appreciate the depth and complexity of flavours? Rather than taste the whisky neat, a little still mineral water is added and gently swirled around the glass to mix the water and whisky together. When you then nose it before and after the water is added – the difference will be marked.
When working behind a bar – a plentiful and constant supply of ice is essential to great cocktail making. Here are some tips which we hope will be useful:
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