The Absolute Best Ice To Use For Shaken Cocktails

When you're crafting a cocktail at home, you might think the most important element is the top-shelf liquors or other high-quality ingredients in your drink. While both of these are critical for the overall taste of your beverage, one of the key components of a great cocktail is often overlooked — the ice. Picking the wrong type of ice can turn an outstanding cocktail into an average one, as the carefully balanced layers of flavor in the drink become either too concentrated or too diluted.

For shaken cocktails (rather than stirred), keep it simple and go with just the regular ice you'd get from your freezer's ice maker or that you'd make in a normal ice cube tray — no specialty machines, molds, or elaborate techniques needed. The diverse range of shaken cocktails requires the Goldilocks of ice — just the right size. Large cubes or spheres, which feature in many cocktails, will need too much time to properly chill your cocktail due to lower surface area.

On the other end of the spectrum, there's a downside to nugget ice as well as pebble and pellet versions: They'll melt far too quickly in the shaking process, due to higher surface area, and dilute your drink before you've had a chance to enjoy it. Sticking with regular ice will yield the best results, no matter what type of shaken cocktail you're making.

Mastering ice for shaken cocktails

Are you still not quite getting cocktail bar-worthy results at home, despite using the recommended kind of ice for your shaken cocktails? There are a few other areas that might be the culprit.

First of all, consider how long your ice has been sitting out while you're whipping up cocktails. Ice that's been warming for a while has a wet exterior that will cause more dilution in your drink during the shaking process. For best results, you want ice directly from the freezer that's slightly dry to the touch.

To level up your ice game even further, consider making clear ice for certain cocktails. Not only does clear ice add finesse to your cocktail's appearance, it actually melts a bit more slowly due to its higher density, so you'll get the perfect rate of dilution. To make your own clear ice, simply freeze distilled or filtered water that has been brought to a boil beforehand.