Guide to the 7 Different Types of Ice for Drinks & Cocktails
It wasn’t that long ago that the only places where consumers could get good ice were from restaurants or stores. Otherwise, they were making their own at home by using a mallet and a plastic bag or hoping they weren’t chopping it too finely in their blender.
Now, after taking cues from residential customers, manufacturers have a wide variety of ice makers available. The trick now is figuring out which ice style is best for which kind of drink.
In this guide, we’re going to sort out the different types of ice for drinks and cocktails.
Ice cubes come in two forms–either a full or half cube. The only difference between the two is their size. Using half cubes are optimal when you’d like to add more ice cubes to your drinks.
Under most circumstances, ice cubes are usually clear, hard, and melt slowly.
These conditions make them ideal for a variety of drinks where dilution would cause problems with their taste. Ice cubes are common in restaurants, as well as bars. Your freezer will make cubed ice, but your ice maker will not.
Ice makers typically make bullet ice. You can find ice cubes in a variety of sizes, including full cubes, half cubes, small cubes, full dice cubes, and half dice cubes. Ice cubes are optimal for carbonated drinks, spirits, water, mixed drinks, at entertainment venues, and in offices.
Ice flakes is another way of saying crushed ice.
It isn’t necessary to use an ice maker to create ice flakes or crushed ice. Instead, you can use a Lewis bag, which is the recommendation, or plastic bag and a wooden mallet.
Using a heavy-duty food processor or blender will also do the trick. Ice flakes tend to cool down drinks or cocktails quickly. However, it also melts fast in comparison to other forms of ice.
This ice is best for cocktails, blending with smoothies, adding to snowcones, and adding to drinking water bottles. It’s also great for adding to desserts like slushies, shakes, and yogurt pops.
Ice Pearls or Nuggets
When you think about ice nuggets, many consider these as the candy of the ice world.
They’re addictive because they’re soft and many find them a pleasure to chew.
The nugget-sized ice craze was first introduced by Sonic Drive-ins, and many have been addicted to their crunchiness ever since. For many years, nugget ice has also been referred to as an unofficial name, Sonic ice.
This kind of ice is excellent for cocktails, juices, smoothies, and an assortment of other beverages. It’s also an excellent addition for crunching along with ice cream, salads, and other foods whereby chewing on ice is enjoyable.
For many years, the only way consumers could get nugget ice was from commercial locations. However, it’s possible to recreate this ice at home in an ice maker. If you are interested in sonic ice (the best type of ice for cocktails), you can read our buying guide and reviews about the best nugget ice makers.
Ice that’s made at upscale restaurants and bars is done so with extra care.
Not only is this ice used to chill their customer’s drinks, but it also must have an elegant appearance in the glass.
Therefore, it has an almost transparent look, and it’s extra hard. That way, it can remain in drinks for hours without melting or changing the tastes of the drinks. This ice has the shape of a standard cube, but it also serves as garnishes for drinks.
Gourmet ice isn’t only found at these commercial locations, though. You can pick up a residential ice maker for replicating this same gourmet ice in your home.
Ice molds will also do the trick, but they may not come out as hard or clear as you would achieve from an ice maker. This ice is excellent for serving at special events at your home over spirits, cocktails, or carbonated drinks.
Crescent and gourmet ice are typically synonymous with each other. The biggest difference between the two is their shape. Like gourmet ice, crescents are also extra hard and clear.
The only difference in this ice is that, instead of a standard cube, it’s shaped like a crescent.
You’ll also find that this ice is also a bit smaller than a standard cube. Under most circumstances, the crescent isn’t a popular choice for home use.
It’s typically found in fancy and upscale restaurants or bars. One of the most significant benefits for using this kind of ice is that, when drinks are poured over it, splashing doesn’t occur.
The curves in the ice allow beverages to flow smoothly over the edges. That means there’s less waste occurring at commercial locations. Because this ice is smaller, it’s also possible to fit more pieces in a glass.
This ice is optimal for use in mixed drinks, spirits, soft drinks, and cocktails at bars, cafes, and restaurants. However, if you would like to serve these drinks in your home, you’ll also enjoy the fact that these pours are clean and you can fit more ice in the glass.
You’ll see ice spheres used when beverages are poured straight over ice, or you’re serving a stirred cocktail. The ice sphere is most commonly being used to chill the drink and also serve as a garnish simultaneously.
Ice spheres are beneficial because they have a prolonged melt rate. That also means they slowly chill drinks but also won’t cause drinks to become diluted.
This ice is also a type of gourmet ice because it’s hard and translucent. It looks elegant in the glass and creates a unique presentation.
You won’t find a specialized ice ball machine. Instead, custom molds and trays are available for creating unique styles. This kind of ice is excellent for spirits, ice tea, iced coffee, fruit juices, cocktails, kid’s Popsicles, and carbonated beverages.
Are you interested in serving drinks in tall and narrow glasses?
Instead of stacking cubes, why not use an ice spear? It’s possible to do so with this kind of ice.
Use this ice is optimal if you’re creating cocktails where tall glasses are required.
Instead of stacking small ice cubes that will melt too quickly, pick up a mold that will create ice spears. You’ll also find that this kind of ice will keep drinks colder longer without melting and causing drinks to become diluted too quickly.
They’re ideal for tall and narrow glassware due to their shape and the fact that one spear will fit per glass. These pieces of ice are stylish and look great in tall cocktails.
You’ll receive the highest quality results if you use filtered or boiled water when making your ice. In doing so, it will turn out harder and more clear.
Another factor is the quality of the equipment you’re using. For example, some ice makers only produce nugget ice while others will make an assortment of qualities of ice.
Always be sure the machine or molds you’re using are clean and well-maintained to avoid stale smelling and tasting ice.
Selecting ice makers and molds will ultimately depend on your specific needs and situation.
Are you looking for ice for homemade cocktails or a bar? Do you want to make Popsicles or ice cream cones? Answering these questions will help you make the best buying decisions.