Why bartenders say ice is the most important ingredient
Ice to a cocktail is what flame is to food – use it wisely, and the results can be phenomenal, use it incorrectly and you can completely alter the taste.
This practice dates back to 1805 when Frederik Tudor (dubbed the Ice King) changed drinking culture as we know it by introducing the concept of adding ice to enhance beverages. Having your drink served over “Tudor Ice” was considered a luxury.
And in the modern cocktail, this still remains true. As a matter of fact, expert bartenders insist that ice is the most important ingredient in making a great cocktail – and choosing the right kind can make or break your drink.
“Ice plays a crucial role in cocktail making. Not only does it chill a drink, but it also releases water into the cocktail, binding the ingredients, smoothing out the flavor, and taking the edge off the base spirit,” explains Michael Dietsch, Cocktail Contributor of Serious Eats.
ICE PURITY & CLARITY AFFECTS TASTE
It goes without saying the purer the ice, the better a drink will taste as the ice melts. And, clarity is the best indicator for purity, as is the case with the Marvel Clear Ice Machine, considered the clearest, most pure ice available for residential use.
“Cloudiness in ice comes from water impurities and air bubbles. Your average home refrigerator ice maker freezes ice really fast, which also leads to cloudier, imperfect ice. Crystal-clear ice is created when you freeze very pure water very slowly,” says Jim Meehan, recent winner of the first-ever James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program.
The Science Behind the Purity of Marvel Clear Ice
Much like a fine chocolatier slowly tempers chocolate to a solid state for the best quality and flavor, Marvel Clear Ice employs a fractional freezing process to create high-density, slow-melting ice with the ultimate clarity and purity. As water runs over the cold plate, pure water freezes first. Minerals, sediments and other water contaminants are carried away into the water reservoir, giving you clear, impurity-free ice that cools your drinks without affecting the flavor.
Additionally, owning a dedicated ice maker like the Marvel Clear Ice Machine will ensure no freezer odors are imparted into the ice as it freezes, which can change the ice’s flavor.
Marvel Engineering Director Jim Holland took the physics of ice melting into great consideration when he developed the Marvel Clear Ice Machine. What he created was the optimal shape for keeping beverages cooler, longer, without taking up too much room in your glass.
“The ice shape was optimized to provide maximum cool down with minimum dilution,” Jim adds. “This was accomplished by utilizing a 3/4” cube to maximize the density of ice in the glass to cool the drink quicker, which minimizes melt.”
Chad Solomon, a New York cocktail consultant, understands the significance of this, “As the clock ticks, it’s going to be a totally different drink based on the size and density of the ice.”
Jason Cott, partner at the popular Pouring Ribbons bar in New York City, also considers dilution a critical factor in the perfect cocktail: “It’s not just about bringing the temperature of the drink down to the correct level. It’s about adding the correct water content to each drink. The hidden ingredient in every cocktail recipe is water.”
We agree with San Francisco bartender Thad Vogler when he says, “Once you’ve used good ice, it’s really hard to go back.”