There’s a fine art to making cocktails, and knowing what kind of ice to use is one of the most fundamental lessons. While most people will content themselves with standard ice cubes, the connoisseur should develop an understanding of how different types of ice can affect a drink.
Take crushed ice. You’ll find crushed ice machines in most bars that take their cocktails seriously, but why is crushed ice used?
The main reason people use crushed ice in cocktails is because it melts a lot faster. Crushed ice is made of lots of smaller pieces, so it doesn’t hold its coldness as effectively as ice cubes. That can be a bad thing in certain drinks, but it’s vital with several popular cocktails. It’s usually cocktails prepared in hot weather that require crushed ice – a perfectionist knows you can’t make a proper mint julep, pina colada, or margarita without it. These drinks are meant to be served ice cold, and crushed ice gets them that way in a hurry.
Ice is added to cocktails for a number of reasons, but the central purpose is usually to add a little water. Most types of alcohol benefit from water – it serves to volatize flavour compounds and enrich the drink. Crushed ice waters down a cocktail quickly, so immediate consumption isn’t a problem and stronger drinks are much easier to handle.
Finally, a crushed ice machine lets people know you know how to make a mean cocktail. Sure, it’s easy to buy the right glasses and pick up a fancy shaker, but using crushed ice instead of sticking to cubes shows that you really know what you’re doing, and that alone makes it a worthy addition to your bar.
Crushed ice isn’t used in all cocktails, but it’s an important enough part of many tipples to make a crushed ice machine a solid investment.