How Fancy Cocktail Bars Get Impeccably Clear Ice

When you pay for quality, you expect attention to detail. In the cocktail world, this extends beyond top-shelf liquors and fancy glasses. The entire experience needs to be on point, right down to the ice. Fancy cocktail bars go to extremes to get impeccably clear ice. Believe it or not, clear ice isn't a result of having the purest water — though that is certainly desirable. To get that perfect crystalline quality, it's much more about the process.

Under normal conditions, ice freezes from the top down. You can easily verify this in nature when the surface of a lake freezes, but fish continue to swim beneath. This means every impurity — whether it is minerals, such as calcium or magnesium, or tiny oxygen bubbles — gets trapped inside. This all adds to the cloudiness of your ice.

However, with cocktails, it is important to understand that the benefits of clear ice go deeper than aesthetics. Because the clouds in ice are formed by oxygen, that space creates hollow weak points inside. These weak areas cause the ice to break more readily and melt faster, which will water down that expensive, exquisitely crafted cocktail.

How to get the best clear ice for cocktails

To get crystal-clear ice, start by inverting the freezing process. Instead of freezing from the top down, you must make sure the bottom layer freezes. Ideally, this should be done slowly, allowing all of those undesirable gas bubbles time to rise and escape. Additionally, the water needs to circulate slowly, as this will stir up the minerals to help reduce the possibility of them getting trapped inside the block.

Gourmet ice machines are an option. While they can create clear ice, they are expensive and often offer limited results. You may only be able to make small cubes. If you are paying for pristine ice, why not go the extra mile and purchase custom shapes, such as spheres and larger blocks, that won't break down in a shaker? For cocktail bars and restaurants that want to ensure there is always flawless ice on the premises, there are clear ice suppliers located around the country that service both local and national customers.