15 Dec Cold as Ice
Like the rest of the cocktail universe, we’ve a new found love and mild obsession with ice. Not just any ice. The cleanest ice we can make.
You may be thinking: “who cares about ice? As long as it’s cold what’s the big deal?” The fact is ice is a lot more than just a means to chill a drink. It’s especially important when it comes to cocktails. Water that melts from cubes can make up 25% o or more of the final product. The higher the proof, or heat, the more dilution you’ll get.
Quality ice ensures that your drinks will be free from unwanted tastes or odors. The problem with commercial ice machines is that the ice they create is in small sized cubes and usually made from tap water, which we know to be full of impurities and additives (Brita filter anyone?) Here at TRC, it was a long road to find the perfect ice machine that would fit our needs for creating the high caliber drinks we desired.
Our first Ice-Capade (Yeah, I said it) was the involved a KOLD-DRAFT ice machine. The king of ice machines, the KOLD-DRAFT worked well for our cocktail program for several months. Eventually, the day came that we decided we needed even bigger cubes. Why? Because, while dilution is important for making and mixing cocktail, it becomes less desired when serving whiskey on the rocks. Equally important in our case is to create a perfect Old-Fashioned that won’t become water after 5 minutes.
You may say: “What about whiskey rocks/stones?” To that I say, a little water is a really good thing to help open up a spirit and release the subtle scents on the nose. You’ll often see scotch drinkers sprinkle some water on a pour of single malt served neat before their first sip. A little water helps; too much water kills. That’s where big cubes come into play. The larger surface area holds more cold in while making it hard for the liquor to mix among it and fill any voids between. Purer ice melts at a slower rate.
At a seminar at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic In NYC this past spring, I truly gained a true understanding of ice. The class focused heavily on obtaining clear ice. The rule goes that the clearer the cube, the purer it is. While this is true, it has little effect on taste or smell. The best method for clear ice is slow, directional freezing of distilled water, a difficult process that is time consuming and costly. Not wanting to pass this cost onto our customers, we decided to look for alternatives that would yield similar quality.
Research has shown that just using distilled water will yield similar taste results. Even though clear ice looks amazing, it won’t make your drink taste any better. Before I returned home I purchased silicone ice molds that make perfect 2-inch cubes. This got us started on a daily routine that now includes eight different molds. We could make more at a time, but the longer they sit in the freezer the more stale they become. You’ll often times see one of our bartenders give the ice a rinse before placing it into a cocktail – a trick our own Zack Zavisa picked up while at New Orleans’ annual Tales of the Cocktail. This helps eliminate impurities that are pushed to the outside of the cube during freezing which is a natural process. We do this selectively, if one cube appears cloudier than another. We take great pride in making our own cubes and will continue to strive to improve them. We know exactly what went into them, so we can be sure that we’re giving our customers a truly top quality pour of whiskey or expertly mixed drink.
For you DIY’rs (Drink it Yourself) check out THIS LINK to make ice at home.
by Robyn Cleveland