The Possible Reason Your Iced Drinks Taste Off

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Ice makes a big difference in your drinks. In cocktails, ice chills and provides dilution, and bartenders select their ice carefully to ensure a controlled melt — not overly watery and not too cold while opening up the flavors of the spirit. Your mocktails and iced teas deserve the same degree of attention and care. If you've been forcing your way through iced drinks that just taste kind of "off," it's time to put an end to your watery woes.

Your tap water could be to blame. If it's packed with odorous minerals like sulfur or iron, it's going to make for some pretty flavorful ice (and not in a good way). The shape could be the culprit too: If you're using small ice chips, like the kind that come out of a hotel ice machine, the greater surface area means they are going to melt much faster, potentially over-diluting your drink.

More likely, it's your fridge. Similar to how airplanes recirculate some of their air in the cabin, most side-by-side refrigerators use the same recycled air between the fridge and freezer. So unless you're making your ice in a designated standalone bar freezer, the same air that's circulating around your pungent leftover garlic couscous is circulating around your ice tray — and that porous ice is absorbing all the tastes. If you have any styrofoam takeout boxes in your fridge, don't be surprised if you detect a hint of "eau de leftovers" in your iced drink.

Take our advice — your ice should be nice

Luckily, all of these ice issues are fairly easy to remedy with a little planning and assessment. To make sure your ice is fresh and crisp, first, make sure to use purified or filtered water — whatever you need to do to get those impurities out. Stubborn metallic taste? It might be time to invest in a water softener. You could even buy a jug of distilled water from the grocery store for your ice.

If the bigger issue is that your iced drinks start tasting too watery after a few minutes of sipping, try switching to a bigger ice shape with a smaller surface area, like large whiskey-style cubes or spheres. Other chilling accessories like whiskey stones make a good alternative if you want to skip the ice altogether.

If nothing but ice will do — maybe you're a diehard stinky cheese fan, but alas, your homemade lavender lemonade bears not-so-subtle tasting notes of Vieux-Boulogne — keep your refrigerated food in airtight containers to prevent aromas from filling the space and impacting your ice. If you want to keep your cubes extra safe, get an ice tray with a lid, like this one by OXO with easy release. To that effect, be sure to regularly clean your ice cube trays — and from time to time, give your freezer's ice maker a good scrub with hot soapy water and vinegar.