This Basic Ingredient Is Surprisingly Important For Great Cocktails

When it comes to making cocktails, the process can be as complicated as some experts are with gourmet coffee. It comes down to using the freshest and best ingredients you can. Of course, using good spirits is important whether you're making an Irish coffee with Bushmills or simply enjoying a batch cocktail. But just like great coffee, great cocktails call for using the best water you can too (via Punch). Though many might think of sparkling water like San Pellegrino for spritzers, there are plenty of cocktails that call for top-quality still water too.

Dilution from ice can make up around a quarter of each cocktail. Some even prefer up to 45 percent dilution (via Cocktails and Bars). That's why the quality of the water used either in the drink or as ice to slowly dilute the drink is so important. "Using good water is really important for me in making a good Martini," says Thomas Waugh, head of bar operations at The Grill, who also explains there's a lot of bad water and ice in New York City. Many even turn to brands of bottled water, but not all bottled water is created equally.

Water can be hard, which means it has a higher concentration of minerals such as calcium that have been picked up from underground rock deposits. Or can be soft, which is the opposite in that the water has much lower mineral levels and typically comes from rivers and lakes.

Use these waters

Brands like Poland Spring, Vichy, and Evian tend to be hard and you can usually taste the flavor from the minerals. According to Waugh, soft water "gives the drink a texture you don't get from hard water — a sort of silkiness and velvetiness." But since soft water doesn't have as much flavor or minerals as hard water, it also won't alter the taste of the drink.

Brands like Essentia and Acqua Panna are perfect for making cocktails. Whether you want to dilute a neat drink or serve a cocktail over ice made with the brands of water, the drink will retain more of its original flavor while lowering the alcohol level (via New York Times). 

Essentia water has a pH of 9.5 or higher making it alkaline. It has undergone ionization, eliminating bitter elements. The water is also 99.9 percent pure so you don't have to worry about minerals muddling the cocktail's flavor (via Essentia). Acqua Panna is another great option because the Italian natural spring water already pairs well with food and wine. It can cleanse the palate without overpowering other flavors (via Acqua Panna). So try making ice with different brands of bottled water to find which compliment your home cocktails best. You just might find it makes a big difference.