How To Properly Store Your Cocktail Ice

Want to elevate your at-home cocktail game? While top-shelf spirits and well-made mixers are key, budding mixologists also need to think about the ice used to cool those drinks down.

Bartenders don't add ice to drinks simply to chill them. Wine Enthusiast explains that it's not the cube of ice itself that chills the drink; it's the frigid water from the ice melting that makes the drink cold. The larger the cube of ice, the slower the melt, keeping the drink chilled longer while also being slower to dilute it. 

Before you worry about diluting the cocktail, however, The Kitchn points out that ice — and the additional water created when it melts — is as important to a cocktail as the booze. The melting ice actually enhances the drink because the water mellows out the harsher flavors that make your taste buds recoil in high alcohol content spirits. Cocktail recipes factor that dilution in. 

The best way to store your cocktail ice

You can create cocktail specific ice at home with ice cube trays that ensure proper dilution — and the best tasting drinks. This is where size matters. One-by-one inch cubes are a great, all-purpose cubes for at-home beverages, according to NYC bartender Tristan Willey. The larger two-by-two cubes (a.k.a King Cubes) offer less dilution for slower sips. Crushed ice is best for hot-weather favorites like Tiki cocktails or a Mint Julep. Not only do those drinks work to cool down the imbiber quickly, but the ice offers more dilution for the heavier alcohol content. Ice spheres offer a slow melt because of their shape, and are preferred when you want a little chill added to straight-up spirits like whiskey.

To ensure you always have cocktail ice at the ready, The Kitchn recommends making it in advance and storing the hardened cubes in plastic zipper bags. Not only will that ensure you have plenty of ice on hand, your cubes will remain intact. Uncovered ice evaporates and that's what causes the sad, meager cubes that sit in your ice cube tray; it's also why the ice cubes fuse together and form one big hard-to-chop block. (Want crystal clear cubes? Use twice-boiled distilled water.)

If you follow these tips, your friends will be cheering your mixologist prowess.