What is your philosophy on the use of ice in cocktails? A traditional up gin martini chilled as close to freezing as possible approaches perfection for me. Ice is used imperfectly in most bars – from under-chilled martinis to stale cubes made from poor-quality water that imparts bad flavor.
Great question Peter!
Ice without a doubt is one of the most mentioned topics in neo-cocktail bars. The skinny of the argument is that the best ice (not wet ice) will chill your cocktail yet not water it down. There is a lot of talk and the trend in most super hip and high-end cocktail spots seems to be using ice blocks and shaving them down to size for a drink. In fact, this is the way cocktails were originally crafted.
The link you sent (http://tinyurl.com/mnvfka) is for an apparatus that takes a square block of ice and molds it into a perfect solid sphere, suited for drinking scotch or Bourbon, preventing as much melting as possible. I completely understand and respect this technique (although I don’t have a few thousand dollars lying around in order to purchase one for Wisdom at the moment).
However, I will go on record and disagree with 99% of mixologists out there and say that I personally prefer wet ice in my shaken Gin or vodka martinis. I like to lower the proof of my Gin or even vodka martinis from 80 or above proof to a range in the upper 60s/low 70s. I do this by drinking them wet (1oz of vermouth) and using a tin filled with wet ice rather than 3/4 full (I use a shaker 3/4 full to shake cocktails with mixed ingredients including juices and liqueurs that do not need to be lowered in proof.) That’s my opinion and my experience…and I don’t think that makes me as a wuss or an amateur. I have been drinking cocktails most days of the week for the last several years. Clearly the best ice for a drink is not a stone-cold fact.
For home use I would recommend filtering the water you use for your ice (through a Britta or similar device) and tr not to have anything with potent smells in your freezer because ice can absorb odor. I would also dump the ice in your shaker after each use. Personally, I think reusing ice can water down an otherwise good cocktail. I also recommend chilling the martini glass with ice and some water prior to pouring your shaken and strained creation into it.