The Ice Mistake That Can Ruin Your Cocktails

Mixing a cocktail is a lot more than just pouring two kinds of liquor together and giving it a good stir. Whether you're an enthusiast making cocktails at home or a professional bartender, you'll know that the texture, flavor, and overall enjoyment of sipping on a cocktail depend on the quality of every ingredient, even something as seemingly mundane as ice. In blended drinks like frozen margaritas, ice isn't just there to give everything a pleasant chill. It also plays a crucial role in defining the drink's consistency and taste.

A common mistake for beginners is using ice straight from a freezer that also stores other frozen foods. When ice shares space with foods that have very strong smells like fish, it can absorb those odors. You can probably imagine how a faint tuna scent wafting from a piƱa colada can completely ruin the tropical experience, regardless of how fresh the fruits or high-quality the liquors in the cocktail are.

A few tips for making and preserving the best cocktail ice

The "secret" to making good cocktail ice is to make it from water you wouldn't have any problem drinking yourself: Distilled, filtered, or bottled water are your best friends here. Once you have your fresh ice, you have to store it properly. Keep it as far away from other foods as possible (preferably in a different freezer altogether) and seal it in plastic bags. This not only protects your ice from odors but also keeps it from evaporating, which can cause the cubes to deform and clump together over time.

It's also important to consider the age and quality of your ice. Contrary to popular belief, ice can go stale if it sits in the freezer for too long. Stale ice has an unpleasant "freezer-like" flavor, which will taste terrible in your drink. To avoid this, you shouldn't be using any ice that's older than a week. If you frequently enjoy drinks with ice, make sure to rotate your ice trays and refill them with fresh water every week. This way, you'll always have a supply of fresh ice ready to go.

As a bonus tip, if you enjoy making frozen cocktails, be generous when refilling your ice maker. These recipes typically require a significant amount of ice, and it's better to have more ice than you need than to run out and end up with a thin, warm, and watery drink.