Ice Ice Baby
June 12, 2009 10:02 AM   Subscribe

It's no secret that classic cocktails are back. Fresh fruit and house-made bitters and infusions are de rigueur, but no less important is the quality of the ice. Good ice and the right shake ensure that spirits are properly chilled and diluted and improve the cocktail's flavor profile.
posted by HumuloneRanger (70 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great post. Only four hours until happy hour.
posted by exogenous at 10:08 AM on June 12, 2009


..."Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood—offers eight kinds of ice, depending on which cocktail you request. 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” at a hotel. I suggested as much to Toby Maloney, a partner in the bar and its head mixologist. He admitted that it sounds like “the most pretentious thing on Earth.”

Yep.
posted by bigmusic at 10:11 AM on June 12, 2009


Sometimes the risk (okay, the guarantee) of being a seen as a pretentious twat is entirely outweighed by the glorious result of acting like one. This is one of those cases.
posted by amelioration at 10:17 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Related AskMe thread: Small Ice vs. Big Ice.
posted by ericb at 10:17 AM on June 12, 2009


I find the only way to make really good ice is to use the old-fashioned metal ice trays with the lever to crack the ice out. Plastic trays just can't make ice as nice and clear as the metal ones ... and cracking the ice is much more satisfying than trying to shake cubes out of the plastic ones.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:17 AM on June 12, 2009


There's a great speakeasy type place near my work that does mostly whiskey cocktails in low glasses. The beverage is cooled by one large (roughly 4x normal volume) icecube. I don't know if that pertinent to the flavor of the drink or not, but I've had the best cocktails of my life there. I find myself dreaming of bacon-infused bourbon sometimes...
posted by scrutiny at 10:19 AM on June 12, 2009


My wife used to look at me funny for always rinsing ice before making cocktails. I swear the outermost layer of the ice has all that funky stale flavor that builds up over time. Even with relatively fresh ice you can taste it a little bit.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:28 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The mark of someone new to cocktails is that they use distilled ice, particularly in some place that has pretty decent drinking water. First of all, ice adds so little to the flavor of the cocktail, especially if you are drinking top shelf liquor, as to be negligable except to the most refined -- or pompous -- palate. Secondly, if you're in a place with decent water, it is often the only ingredient that goes into the cocktail that is local, and therefore makes it distinct. In a related example: Surly, which is a very popular and highly rated Minnesota beer, uses Minneapolis tap water. I asked the guy who brews it why this was, and he said it was because Minneapolis tap water tastes good.

Except in the early spring, when it smells like fish. That's the one time an argument for distilled ice makes sense to me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:28 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Rachel Maddow had a guy on for Kentucky Derby weekend to make mint juleps. He insisted that the ONLY way to get the right kind of ice for the drinks was to icepick off chunks from a block of solid ice, and then to crush it to fine within a canvas bag (he was using one of the bags that silver or gold is typically shipped in)... The idea was to get the ice into fine particles, yet have any melt absorbed by the bag so you're using "dry" ice bits in the drink.

When I made my own drinks a week or so later, I used ice cubes out of the freezer and put them in a ziploc bag to crush them. I wish I could report that they tasted awful because I used the wrong method, but the entire evening went fuzzy after about the 3rd julep. :)
posted by hippybear at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2009


This might be a better fit in Ask, but does anyone know where one might procure a mold for the collins-glass-sized ice shards described in the second link? I have been known to make a mean Dark 'n' Stormy according to the Violet Hour's spec, but I can't really get the ice right.
posted by hoboynow at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2009


Does anyone, outside of the Patrick Bateman's of the world, really give that much of a shit about the way the ice was prepared for their pretentious cocktail? Really? Don't people just do things any more? I remember people going out and having a couple of drinks, now you have to worry about the fucking flavor profile of the ice.

And get off my lawn.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2009


On the other hand, if want to cool a drink without imparting any flavor or affecting its strength, use chilled stainless steel ball bearings in the shaker. The bearings will cool the drink rapidly but don't have the staying power of ice, so they'll have to be re-chilled after each use and won't do for keeping a drink cold. Great for martinis, though.
posted by jedicus at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would have to either be a hipster or James Bond to care about this...
posted by HuronBob at 10:36 AM on June 12, 2009


jedicus: I love a good martini, but I find the ice-melt to be crucial to the mix of the drink to help it do that "slow layers of flavor" reveal that they produce as they slowly warm up.

That being said, I love the idea of the chilled ball bearings. There has to be SOME drink I can make with those...
posted by hippybear at 10:38 AM on June 12, 2009


James Bond had terrible taste in liquor, and hipsters drink PBR.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:38 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


At some point I assume there will be a vintage ice craze.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:44 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh. I went to a cocktail competition yesterday sponsored by /showcasing Maker's Mark, and two out of the five competing bartenders brought their own ice. In both cases, it was so they could have giant cubes or spheres of ice to serve with an old-fashioned or variants thereof. Plus they could make corny jokes about servings drinks "on the rock."

(Toronto-filter: The two bartenders in question were Jeffrey from Sidecar on College, and Moses from School.) I've talked with Jeffrey about the ice they use at Sidecar; apparently he fashioned a sheet-metal mold to make the cubes himself.
posted by chalkbored at 10:46 AM on June 12, 2009


At some point I assume there will be a vintage ice craze.

Like from a glacier?
posted by exogenous at 10:51 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The trend towards using different shapes and kinds of ice sprang out of the cocktail revival movement to go back to the pre-Prohibition aesthetic and practices of cocktails, bars and mixology in general. At a minimum, most good cocktail bars in the country use Kold-Draft ice cubes, and plenty of these use extra-large ice for rocks drinks. In Japan, it is not uncommon for the bartenders to carve an ice sphere to be used in rocks drinks. Further still, some bars have done away with ice cubes altogether, and instead have gigantic blocks of clear commercial ice delivered, which they break down to different sizes and shapes according to their needs. This all reflects an overall aesthetic that thinks of cocktails as a culinary/gustatory experience rather than primarily one of alcohol delivery mixed with "scene," and is actually at odds with the majority of Vodka Soda and PBR drinking hipsters.

WRT the metal ball bearings (or cubes of rock, etc.)... this is a bad idea for a few reasons. Primarily, as hippybear points out, a well-balanced cocktail requires dilution. But beyond that, the phase change from solid water to liquid water requires a lot of thermal energy, and there is just no way this can be done as effectively with metal or rock instead of ice. I guarantee that if I'm shaking with a shaker packed with ice from the freezer and you're shaking with steel ball bearings from the same freezer -- my drink is going to come out a lot colder than yours.
posted by slkinsey at 10:55 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


hoboynow, you can get them here. You might also try the ice kebabs.
posted by Houstonian at 10:57 AM on June 12, 2009


Everyone knows it isn't a party without Crystal Clear Party Ice, and isn't party ice unless it's crystal clear. Have you ever been to a party without Crystal Clear Party Ice? How did that make you feel?
posted by filthy light thief at 11:00 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


HumuloneRanger, you're rather interested in ice for a beer guy. And welcome to the Blue.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:04 AM on June 12, 2009


I guarantee that if I'm shaking with a shaker packed with ice from the freezer and you're shaking with steel ball bearings from the same freezer -- my drink is going to come out a lot colder than yours.

That presumes a lot of things. For example, how long are we shaking the drinks for? How cold do we want the drinks? And of course you assume that we used the same freezer. There's no reason the ball bearings couldn't be sitting in a dewer of liquid nitrogen or resting on a bed of dry ice.

As a matter of physics, you can work out the number of ball bearings cooled to a particular temperature needed to chill a given volume of drink to whatever end temperature you want. It might not be as efficient as ice, but it's doable. And if the idea is to dilute the drink somewhat, then using ball bearings gives you the ability to precisely control the addition of water, whereas relying on ice melt is inexact and unreliable.

Is any of this particularly efficient or even reasonable? Not really, but by the time you're worrying about the ice beyond 'is it fresh?' efficiency and reason are but distant gin-fogged memories.
posted by jedicus at 11:21 AM on June 12, 2009


I only drink cocktails made with ice that has been shaped in molds cast from the navels of virgins. I stand around with my drinking buddies and we make fun of those misguided audiophiles who claim Monster cables make a difference in the sound of their music.

As if.
posted by bondcliff at 11:22 AM on June 12, 2009


I would have to either be a hipster or James Bond to care about this...

Or Hemingway.
posted by ryoshu at 11:24 AM on June 12, 2009


One of my coworkers bought a water-carbonating device for our office, since he quit drinking regular soda. I've discovered that I can mix up some pretty decent fizzy absinthe by mixing it backwards -- crushing up the sugar cube in the glass, pouring in the soda water, and then slowly dribbling the absinthe in on top of it.

I'm pretty sure this could get me shot in certain places.
posted by rifflesby at 11:27 AM on June 12, 2009


Scrutiny: Shhhhhhh! Please don't tell. It's kind of our secret.

(and agreed. it inspired me to bacon-infuse my own bourbon. Note: don't use Bulleit. It's too spicy and fights with the bacon flavor)
posted by indiebass at 11:31 AM on June 12, 2009


Serious drinkers, a question. Martini on the rocks: okay, or not okay?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:33 AM on June 12, 2009


Serious drinkers, a question. Martini on the rocks: okay, or not okay?

Depends on what you mean by "serious drinkers." Do you mean alcoholics or people that want all sorts of ritualistic obsessive compulsive stuff done before they will drink or people that like drinks?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:39 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Martini on the rocks: okay, or not okay?

Depends on what you mean by martini. If you mean a modern, ultra dry vodka martini, then you have to ask yourself how you like vodka on the rocks with an olive garnish because that's basically what you'd get. I think the intense, sustained cold of the ice coupled with the ongoing dilution would demolish the subtle flavor of the vermouth.

I think a traditional, fairly wet gin martini would probably be able to withstand the cold and dilution. Consider the gin and tonic, for example.
posted by jedicus at 11:44 AM on June 12, 2009


Do you mean alcoholics or people that want all sorts of ritualistic obsessive compulsive stuff done before they will drink or people that like drinks?

To answer my own rhetorical, I believe the answers in order would be:

Alcoholic - Who's got time for ice?

Ritualist - Heavens no!!

Drinker - Whatever.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:45 AM on June 12, 2009


a traditional, fairly wet gin martini would probably be able to withstand the cold and dilution

Which is exactly how I like my (very infrequent) martini. I guess the question was, really, how much am I missing by choosing a rocks martini. Not that it'd stop me from having one when I want gin flavor without quite so much booziness. Mostly idle curiosity.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:51 AM on June 12, 2009



Serious drinkers, a question. Martini on the rocks: okay, or not okay?

Depends on what you mean by "serious drinkers." Do you mean alcoholics or people that want all sorts of ritualistic obsessive compulsive stuff done before they will drink or people that like drinks?


I'm ok with the ice, but before I make the drink I don the ceremonial robes and ascend to the kitchen in a procession of people swinging censers and carrying various scepters, orbs, and the sword of state.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:51 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Martini on the rocks: okay, or not okay?

Do you like it like that? Then sure, okay. Do what keepeth thou from wilting shall be the loophole in the law.

Just don't ask about ketchup on hot dogs. That's filthy and immoral.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:56 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for the relative merits of the different types of ice they use, but the bartenders at The Violet Hour are magicians. I'm not usually a flavored cocktail person (I lean more towards the gin martini), but I have been impressed by a number of their recipes. It's about the only tolerable thing left in Wicker Park.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:56 AM on June 12, 2009


The MrsMoonPie and I recently celebrated our 5th anniversary with dinner at the ultra-ritzy Inn at Little Washington. When the waiter asked me if I wanted my pre-dinner martini "up," I was confused, as I'd never heard of them being served any other way. Prior to this, I was clear in my desire for "a traditional, fairly wet gin martini," as I think anything else is an abomination, so I know he didn't think I was looking for a glass of vodka and ice. It made me wonder if on the rocks was, at one point, a common way of serving martinis.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:58 AM on June 12, 2009


I'm largely on the side of the casual drinkers, but my OCD-style tendencies compel me to take ritualism, history and semantic accuracy into account. In this case, I enjoy Tanqueray on the rocks with an olive, but I'd never call it a martini.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:02 PM on June 12, 2009


It made me wonder if on the rocks was, at one point, a common way of serving martinis.

I don't have the wherewithal to find it right now, but I did read recently that this was, at one time, the case and, in certain parts of the US, is still the done thing. From the standpoint of low-quality, bathtub gin, it makes a bit of sense, as does the transition to the "up" cocktail as the flavor of the spirit improved. That's wild conjecture, though.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:03 PM on June 12, 2009


That presumes a lot of things. For example, how long are we shaking the drinks for? How cold do we want the drinks? And of course you assume that we used the same freezer. There's no reason the ball bearings couldn't be sitting in a dewer of liquid nitrogen or resting on a bed of dry ice.

Sure. And we don't know the size of the shaker either. Your shaker could be a 5 gallon shaker that you've packed with ball bearings from your dewer of liquid nitrogen!

This strikes me as a strawman. No one is going to do this. The reson I said "from the same freezer" is because I was speaking from the standpoint of what a normal person in a practical home or bar situation would do, which is why the only meaningful comparison would take the ice and the ball bearings from the same freezer and shake the drink in equivalent shakers. If we were to do that, the drink with ice would turn out colder. Try it for yourself. Shake the one with ice 20-30 seconds. Shake the one with the other stuff as long as you want. Strain it out and measure it. I've done experiments with everything from ball bearings to those "plastic ice" spheres to "rocks cubes" made out of actual rock. Ice always resulted in a colder drink.

As a matter of physics, you can work out the number of ball bearings cooled to a particular temperature needed to chill a given volume of drink to whatever end temperature you want. It might not be as efficient as ice, but it's doable. And if the idea is to dilute the drink somewhat, then using ball bearings gives you the ability to precisely control the addition of water, whereas relying on ice melt is inexact and unreliable.

There are lots of ways one could chill a cocktail. But there's a reason we continue to use water ice. It's because it's the best practical solution. A good cocktailian bartender knows his ice and his equipment, and knows how to load the tin and shake or stir the cocktail in order to get the dilution and temperature he wants.

Meanwhile, if we're going to go running off into absurdist alternative techniques, why shake/stir with any cold solid to chill the cocktail? Just add water to achieve the desired dilution and chill the premixed cocktail to the desired temperature in a calibrated freezer or chilling bath. If you want aeration, shake the storage vessel hard before you pour it out.

I'm sure that, for fun, it would be possible to chill ball bearings in liquid nitrogen, pre-dilute the cocktail, precisely program the shaking routine and arrive at a target temperature with reasonable consistency (shaking by hand does introduce some limitations and variability). But I have my doubts as to whether this would be worth the trouble.
posted by slkinsey at 12:06 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aw, now, Jedicus, you can't claim physics in order to precisely cool your drink with ball bearings and then say that ice melt is going to be necessarily inexact. Knowing the specific temperature of water, controlling the temperature of the ice and the liquor and the volumes of each, you'd have no problem using those fancy physics again to neatly control your ice melt for proper dilution and end temperature.
posted by amelioration at 12:08 PM on June 12, 2009


Depends on what you mean by martini. If you mean a modern, ultra dry vodka martini,

I'm amongst the school which holds that a martini without gin is simply a few shots of very cold vodka.
posted by hippybear at 12:16 PM on June 12, 2009 [10 favorites]


WRT a Martini on the rocks: I'd be the first person to say that one should drink whatever drink he likes however he likes to take it. From a historical perspective, afaik the Martini came into being during a time when it was common practice to strain cocktails off the ice (recipes for the Martinez, one supposed progenitor of the Martini, going back to the later 1800s specify straining). Therefore, I suppose that one can say a "proper" Martini should be strained, and some might suggest that the addition of ice in the glass would make it a different cocktail. After all, the only think differentiating a Whiskey Cocktail and a Whiskey Old Fashioned is the presence of ice in the glass. Notwithstanding, however, there are plenty of traditions across the country for serving the drink on ice, so there's no putting that cat back in the bag. I'd be happy myself if people would stop calling a class of chilled vodka served in a V-shaped class a Martini. I know... good luck with that.
posted by slkinsey at 12:17 PM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


This strikes me as a strawman. No one is going to do this...[T]here's a reason we continue to use water ice. It's because it's the best practical solution.

I reiterate: "Is any of this particularly efficient or even reasonable? Not really, but by the time you're worrying about the ice beyond 'is it fresh?' efficiency and reason are but distant gin-fogged memories."

Knowing the specific temperature of water, controlling the temperature of the ice and the liquor and the volumes of each, you'd have no problem using those fancy physics again to neatly control your ice melt for proper dilution and end temperature.

True enough, but I was comparing the ball bearing method to traditional ice-in-a-shaker methods. You could get very fancy indeed with ice but it'd be as impractical as the ball bearing method and thus a toss-up in the end.
posted by jedicus at 12:22 PM on June 12, 2009


I'd be happy myself if people would stop calling a class of chilled vodka served in a V-shaped class a Martini.

Amen to that.
posted by jedicus at 12:22 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


A vodka martini has a proper name. It is called a kangaroo. For a while I found it a perplexing drink, as vodka's primary use is a dilutant, as it is, in its modern form, relatively free of flavor. And so what do you end up with? A drink that tastes, ever so slightly, of vermouth and ever-so-slightly of olive. But then I discovered most vodka martini drinkers refused the vermouth, and so they were simply getting a shot of vodka with a olive in it. In which case, why call it a martini?

I presume that some people want the classiness of drinking a martini without having to develop the acquired love of gin that would let them earn that classiness, and so, like alcoholic Russians, they down vodka straight, but unlike alcoholic Russians, they pretend to be fancy about it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:30 PM on June 12, 2009 [12 favorites]


By the way, if the vodka martini were the worst monstrosity to call itself a martini, my blood pressure would be a lot lower.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:34 PM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


When will it be cool for ladies to have Manhattans?
posted by WeekendJen at 12:46 PM on June 12, 2009


. . . by the time you're worrying about the ice beyond 'is it fresh?' efficiency and reason are but distant gin-fogged memories.

I think this all depends on how much you care about the quality of your cocktails and your tools. There's nothing inefficient about using 1.25-inch cubes of Kold-Draft ice in a bar. It comes out of the ice bin just the same way shitty shell ice does. But it results in drinks that are way better than you can make with that shell ice.

Part of the reason they use these different kinds, shapes and sizes of ice is for culinary reasons. An Old Fashioned served with a single, big lump of ice in a frozen, heavy rocks glass will stay colder longer, and won't dilute as much as an Old Fashioned made with many small pieces of ice. Or, if you have a single fist-sized chunk of super-dense commercial ice in your shaker, you can shake the drink extra-hard and extra-long with an extra-long movement without worrying that you will shatter the ice or overdilute the drink -- the end result being a cocktail that is bracingly cold, with no ice-chips on top, and also with an amazing foamy "head" on the drink. I have not found this to be particularly possible with smaller ice.

Another part of the reason, of course, is aesthetics and style. The same reason restaurants use pretty plates. It looks cool if you're sipping that Improved Holland Gin Cock-Tail out of a old-style rocks glass with a massive lump of ice lurking in the center and twists of lemon and orange slid down beside it.



WeekendJen. . . it's already cool.
posted by slkinsey at 12:48 PM on June 12, 2009


By the way, if the vodka martini were the worst monstrosity to call itself a martini, my blood pressure would be a lot lower.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:34 PM on June 1


astro zombie i made this for you because i hear you like martinis

it's triple sec a tablespoon of sugar 1/10 of an ounce of vodka eight gummi bears a dash of red dye #5 some red bull and a hint of sour apple
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:53 PM on June 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


Overthinking a shaker full of frozen ball bearings?

I prefer ice that has been hand chipped from a cube into a sphere.
posted by snofoam at 12:53 PM on June 12, 2009


When will it be cool for ladies to have Manhattans?

Seeing as a lady supposedly invented it (Winston Churchill's mother), it's always been cool.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:53 PM on June 12, 2009


There are lots of ways one could chill a cocktail.

But only one way a real man will chill a beer.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:54 PM on June 12, 2009


When will it be cool for ladies to have Manhattans?

A woman drinking whiskey is always cool.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:04 PM on June 12, 2009


Especially rhye whiskey.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:11 PM on June 12, 2009


(Men drinking whiskey are also cool. NOT SEXIST.)
posted by uncleozzy at 1:12 PM on June 12, 2009


When will it be cool for ladies to have Manhattans?

Seeing as a lady supposedly invented it (Winston Churchill's mother), it's always been cool.


Alas, Lady Churchill was in England giving birth to little Winston at precisely the time the myth says she invented the Manhattan Cocktail at the Manhattan Club while throwing a bash to celebrate the election of Samuel Tilden as governor of New York State. The story apparently arises from the fact that, in later years, the Club was located in a building belonging to her father.
posted by slkinsey at 1:15 PM on June 12, 2009


I prefer ice that has been hand chipped from a cube into a sphere.

Japanese bartending techniques are pretty cool.
posted by slkinsey at 1:22 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


That ice ball thing is pretty cool. At what point do they then wash the ice to rid it of every coliform resident from the last twenty years left in the creases of the bartender's hands, though?
posted by docpops at 1:39 PM on June 12, 2009


Presumably the bartender washes his hands before handling the ice.

But if that's a concern based on what you saw there, I suggest you never drink in bars or eat in restaurants ever again. Because everyone is touching everything with their hands.
posted by slkinsey at 1:44 PM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I kid of course. All that alcohol should do quick work on any bugs anyway. But in this debate over optimal icing and mixing, has anyone actually ever looked at the average time spent drinking a cocktail? The only time I recall icing being a problem was when a gin martini at a fundraiser warmed too fast and was as palatable after that as spittle, and took only 4-5 minutes. I usually find the conductive properties of the glass, handling it so as not to conduct heat to the drink, and a reasonably expeditious journey into my gullet to more than make up for the vagaries of size and shape of ice.
posted by docpops at 1:53 PM on June 12, 2009


Old school martini glasses were quite a bit small than they are not, and I have found that size to be preferable. Unless you are looking to get very smashed very very quickly, there is no way to down a martini in a contemporary glass before it warms to a point where it is unsatisfying. Martinis need to be cold. Glacially cold.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:55 PM on June 12, 2009


Presumably the bartender washes his hands before handling the ice.
Presumably, yes, but not definitely.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:56 PM on June 12, 2009


oh dear.
posted by docpops at 1:57 PM on June 12, 2009


wrt size of glassware and time to finish the drink: Smaller/faster is definitely better for an "up drink." But drinks with ice are nice to linger over. That's part of the point of having ice. Thus, the Fizz has no ice and is meant to be consumed quickly whereas the Collins has ice and is meant to last. But ice can make a big difference even in up drinks. For example, it's very difficult to get a properly chilled Martini with crap shell ice. Whereas, on the other hand, if the bartender can use a frozen mixing glass and pieces of dense Kold-Draft ice, the drink can be chilled to a much lower temperature without being overly diluted. Different tenders have different strategies for doing this depending on their materials. The guys who work with block ice often crack off several fairly large lumps of ice into the glass before stirring, whereas the guys who work with Kold-Draft cubes tend to hand-crack those cubes with the back of the spoon and fill the shaker with coarsely cracked ice.

MrMoonPie, in most food-service businesses run with any kind of decent oversight, the staff that handles food are trained to wash their hands frequently. One would expect a Japanese bar to be particularly fastidious in this respect. Besides, in cocktail bars the bartenders have their hands in and out of the dip sink constantly. Would it make you feel better if the bartender were wearing latex gloves? Those things can get pretty nasty.
posted by slkinsey at 2:30 PM on June 12, 2009


WRT martinis on the rocks: Rocks martinis are best enjoyed while sitting in a hot bath tub and reading a magazine.
posted by device55 at 3:20 PM on June 12, 2009


Clean ice is important in a real Martini, because it's one of the biggest parts of the drink. When you mix the proper Martini, a goodly amount of ice melts. So, the ingredients that are in a proper martini, *as served*

1) Gin.
2) Melted Water.
3) Vermouth, in noticeable quantities.
4) A garnish.

Lack of 1 means you're not a Martini at all. Lack of 3 means you're basically drinking cold wet gin -- a fine thing, but not a Martini. Lack of 2 means you're drinking serious amount of warm alcohol. Lack of 4 is just wrong. You see, it just doesn't quite make it.

Note: To make a proper Martini in the proper ratio, namely, 4-1 Gin-Vermouth, you must use something stronger than 80 proof. The cocktail was invented to cope with very strong gins.
posted by eriko at 4:08 PM on June 12, 2009


When will it be cool for ladies to have Manhattans?

For as long as I can remember my parents mix-up a pitcher of Manhattans every evening at 5:00 p.m. The tradition continues.
posted by ericb at 4:28 PM on June 12, 2009


Meanwhile, if we're going to go running off into absurdist alternative techniques, why shake/stir with any cold solid to chill the cocktail? Just add water to achieve the desired dilution and chill the premixed cocktail to the desired temperature in a calibrated freezer or chilling bath. If you want aeration, shake the storage vessel hard before you pour it out.

Errr, that's pretty much exactly how I do it if I have a party with martinis as the default drink, but don't want to spend all night playing Pengo. It's an easy way to make decent martinis for 50 people in advance (link).
posted by benzenedream at 5:17 PM on June 12, 2009


Right. That's called a "batched" or "bottled" cocktail. Usually these are better if you batch them without dilution and then shake them out to order with ice. Useful when you want to serve the same cocktail to 50 or 1,000 people. But not really practical in cocktail bar situations, except for a few popular "house cocktails," and kind of lame for a home bar where part of the point of getting into cocktails is mixing and drinking your way through the variety.

Also, drinks prepared this way don't stay good forever. They will eventually degrade faster than the separate spirits would. Not sure why that is, but if definitely happens. This is especially true of batched cocktails with fruit juice or any other fresh ingredients. The exception is for things such as long-aged punch bases (e.g., Fish House Punch) where eventually the citrus throws off a sediment that can be filtered out.
posted by slkinsey at 7:00 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


So basically we wan't a barometer that feeds into a computer which does the vapor pressure calculations, sets up the ice geometry for the given cocktail, and sends it to the CNC machine with the ice block?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:36 AM on June 13, 2009


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