Ice for cocktails: 7 Different Types of Ice to Use in Cocktails

Ice for cocktails: 7 Different Types of Ice to Use in Cocktails

Yes, ice in cocktails is an essential ingredient for drinking a cocktail prepared with all the sacred trappings, but many neglect it as if it were a secondary aspect. To drink excellent cocktails - as at the bar of trust - we must also give the right attention to the ice that not only keeps your drink at a cold temperature, but also affects the overall quality of the drink.

Adding the right type of ice to your drink will help to ensure that all the ingredients bind together to create one, delicious mixture. Plus, it’s ideal for those who are wanting to broaden their horizons and try something stronger but need to slightly water down the intense flavours. 

Which is the best ice for cocktails

The shape and size of the ice can influence the speed with which it melts and consequently the amount of water that is diluted in the cocktail. Adding a little water, however, can also help to broaden the flavors of some spirits and improve their aromas.

For NIO Cocktails ice is a fundamental aspect: it is the only ingredient you have to add to enjoy your ready-to-share cocktails!

The types of ice for cocktails are seven:

1. Standard ice cubes

Standard size ice cubes measure about 3x3 cm and are the most frequently used by barmen because they easily fit into any cocktail glass. The ice cubes have a large and thick surface, ideal for almost all cocktails because it prevents them from melting too quickly, so that you can enjoy a perfectly fresh drink, without losing the original flavor. This type of ice also has the right shape and size for cocktails that need to be stirred or mixed.

How much ice you need for a cocktail

We advise you to fill at least 2/3 of the cocktail glass before adding ice. The general rule is that if your ice floats there is too much cocktail and not enough ice, then it may take some trial and error before you get the right balance.

2. Big ice cubes

Manhattan cocktail with XL ice cubes

Large ice cubes are typically 5x5 cm and melt more slowly than standard ice cubes, which reduces the amount of water that is diluted in the cocktail. Ideal for a  Manhattan, enjoyed in a lowball glass, these cubes will keep your drink fresh longer. They can be used in cocktails to shake to add extra texture, but are not recommended for mixing because they are too large and dissolve too slowly.

If you have a bottle of high-quality whiskey or scotch in your house, enjoy a glass with a large ice cube; it will keep the drink fresh without losing any flavor.

Create yours XL ice cubes with the perfect mould for NIO Cocktails.

3. Ice ball

Ice balls mold

Ice balls are usually used for liqueurs or strong cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, served in lowball glasses, because, as well as large cubes, they keep the drink fresh and dissolve slowly. The main difference between ice balls and big cubes is that the balls are aesthetically more pleasing and are often used as a seal.

Probably, ice balls melt a little slower than ice cubes because they have a lower ratio of surface to volume. It means that the liquid surrounding the ice ball will be cooled, but at the bottom of the glass, we will most likely have a normal temperature. If you want to cool your drink more, you’ll have to mix the ice balls.

Create yours Ice Ball with the exclusive mould by NIO Cocktails.

4. Collins Spears

Collins Spears ice is quite unusual and is not often used in cocktail bars but is able to make the drinks exceptionally fresh. This type of ice has the shape of a long and thick block and is most commonly used in cocktails that require a Highball glass, or a Collins glass, such as a Gin Tonic or a Mojito.

This particular type of ice is perfect to keep cold the entire beverage served in the tall glass without diluting its flavor because it will melt very slowly.

5. Crushed ice

Crashed ice is a very popular type of ice for cocktails such as Mint Julep, Frozen Daiquiri or any other beverage with a granite-like consistency. It adds a lot of consistency to the cocktail, makes it ultra refreshing and dilutes it enough so that the spirits are not too strong.

There are several ways to prepare crushed ice for your homemade cocktails. The easiest way is to put the standard ice cubes in a blender, but you may risk melting some of them with the heat of the engine. Another method is to place the ice cubes on a dish towel, wrap them and then crush them with a kitchen utensil, like a meat beater, before pouring it into your kitchen cocktail.

6. Dry Ice

Dry ice adds a special touch to any cocktail! Perfect for parties, this ice creates a surprising smoky effect. However, the use of this ice can also be dangerous as it has a temperature of -78.5 degrees, so it is advisable to use protections such as gloves and pliers to avoid burns.

Add dry ice to your drink, it will not affect its flavor and will keep it very fresh. This type of ice will sink to the bottom of the glass and melt completely when you reach the end of the drink. Avoid tilting the glass too much, so that the solid part does not touch your lips. This type of ice is quite difficult to prepare at home, but you can find it at the supermarket. If you are planning a party, we suggest you to buy it a few hours before the event because it will last only about 24 hours.

7. Crystal clear Ice

crystal-clear ice

An absolute must in the most popular cocktail bars, crystal-clear ice - transparent as glass, whatever form it is - is essential to make your drinks more beautiful to see. The classic ice produced at home, opaque and cloudy because it has frozen in all directions, is almost "dirty" and penalizes the aesthetics of the cocktail.

How to create crystal clear ice at home? There are several techniques, but the most proven one includes:

  • a polybox (a polystyrene box with lid easy to buy online a few euros) or a fridge bag rigid and clean,
  • an ice mould
  • some water with a fixed low residue,
  • enough space in the freezer.

The procedure is simple: 

  • fill the ice mould with fixed low-residue water,
  • place the mould in the polybox (or rigid fridge bag), close it with the lid and place it in the middle of the freezer
  • let it freeze for at least 48 hours

and the result is assured.