The Importance of Ice in Crafting Cocktails


Enhancing Flavor and Presentation

When it comes to having a refreshing, relaxing cocktail, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the mix of spirit, the burst of fresh flavors and ingredients, or the expertly garnished glassware. While each element is crucial in crafting a spectacular cocktail, there is one ingredient that often goes unnoticed. Some say it is the most vital element in the perfect cocktail—the ice.

In this article, let’s delve into the world of ice in cocktail making. From its history to the science behind the cube, you will gain a newfound appreciation for this often-overlooked element that elevates your cocktail experience.

A Look Back in Time

The usage of ice in cocktails dates back centuries. In the early 19th century, ice became more accessible due to technological advancements in ice harvesting and storage. It was during this time that cocktails started to gain popularity.

Jerry Thomas, often referred as the “father of American mixology,” made significant contributions to the cocktail world during his time. In his book, “The Bartender’s Guide,” published in 1862, featured numerous cocktail recipes that called for ice. Not only was ice used for chilling drinks, but Thomas also recognized its purpose in dilution and flavor balancing.


Ice Science

Let’s breakdown the science of ice, it is no secret, ice is simply frozen water. But it’s more complex than just that. At a molecular level water molecules arrange themselves in a hexagonal lattice when frozen. This arrangement creates a solid structure with open spaces.

The most vital property of ice in cocktails is its ability to regulate temperature through heat exchange. When ice is added to a cocktail shaker or glass, it absorbs heat from the surrounding liquids, causing it to melt. This process is crucial for achieving the desired temperature and dilution in cocktails.

Ice Forms and Their Uses

Not all ice is created equal, and bartenders have long recognized the importance of using the right ice type for different purposes. See below for a list of Hoshizaki’s specialty ice and their uses.

Sphere Ice

Sphere ice, also known as ice balls or ice spheres, is the perfect ice cube shape for bourbon, scotch, and whiskey. Unlike traditional ice cubes, which have a low surface area-to-volume ratio and melt quickly, sphere ice has a low surface area-to-volume ratio, which means sit melts more slowly.

1BY1 Ice

Similar to sphere ice, Hoshizaki’s 1by1 ice melts slowly. They are the ideal ice cube for stirred cocktails where you want a little ice but don’t want to water it down too much, like a Negroni or an Old Fashioned.

2BY2 Ice

To finish up Hoshizaki’s impressive specialty ice line-up, their 2by2 ice cube gives cocktails and spirits a glam look while maintaining a superior cocktail chill with minimal dilution. Increasing flavor and presentation of specialty cocktails or straight spirits like bourbon or scotch

Ice’s Role in Cocktails

Now that we have explored Hoshizaki’s specialty ice types and their uses, let’s dive into the various roles ice plays in crafting the perfect libation:

  1. Temperature Control
    • One of the primary functions of ice is to chill cocktails to the desired temperature. A well-chilled cocktail is not only more refreshing, but also allows the flavors to shine. Ice achieves this by absorbing heat from the liquid, lowering its temperature.
  2. Dilution
    • Dilution is a critical aspect of cocktails balance. It involves adding water to the drink, which can help mellow the intensity of spirit and enhance the overall flavor. Ice contributes to dilution as it melts. The rate of dilution can be controlled by choosing the right ice type.
  3. Visual Presentation
    • Presentation matters in the world of cocktail. Clear and creatively shaped ice adds visual appeal to drinks, making them more enticing. It’s no secret that we often drink with our eyes first.
  4. Maintaining Consistency
    • Bartenders rely on ice to maintain consistency in cocktail preparation. By following established recipes and using standardized ice forms, they can ensure that each drink meets customers’ expectations.


As simple as it is, ice truly can make or break a good cocktail. While it is not the focal point of the drink, you certainly can’t go without it. When used thoughtfully, it can transform a good drink into a great one.