Who Knew that the Ice Really Does Make the Drink?

I never knew that there were so many different kinds of ice, and that the ice makes a huge difference in how a drink tastes. I learned this last night as I was falling asleep and read an article by Wayne Curtis in the Atlantic. He cites a NYC bar called The Violet Hour where you can find eight different kinds of ice, depending on which cocktail you choose. Who knew?

“A Mai Tai, calls for crushed ice, for example, whereas a Scotch on the rocks demands larger, slower-melting ice. Some might consider an ‘ice program’ an affectation, like a ‘pillow concierge’ in a hotel…it sounds like the most pretentious thing on Earth.”

But the article reveals deep differences in taste based on cubes made by ice machines and ones made in icetrays. The machines’ cubes have too much air and don’t keep the drinks nearly as cold as handmade ice. Basic bar ice is known by bartenders as ‘cheater ice’ and is used to cool bottles. But some drinks need more, so they offer chunk ice, chipped away from a big frozen block.

Curtis asks a bartender to make him two old fashioneds, one with cheater ice and the other with chunk ice. After five minutes the cheater ice drink is watered down and weak and the chunk ice drink actually tastes better. The point is that chunk ice doesn’t melt as fast.