Some cocktails benefit from added water

Escrito por Simon Difford

Some cocktails benefit from added water image 1

The size, and shape of the ice you use when mixing cocktails will affect the amount of dilution added when mixing. Large cubes in a cocktail shaker have a reduced surface area compared to the many smaller cubes needed to occupy the same space. Hence, a shaker filled with smaller cubes has a larger surface area of ice to melt than larger cubes.

The temperature of the ice used is equally if not more influential. Bar ice tends to be drawn from an ice machine and the collection bins of these machines are not frigerated but rely on fresh ice continually falling to keep the temperature low. While the surface of the ice held in a machine's bin may not be wet to the touch, the ice is not that cold so it quickly becomes wet when drawn from the machine. The ice then tends to sit in the ice-chest of a bartender's station for ten minutes so bar ice tends to be on the wet side.

The other extreme to wet ice is cubes taken straight from a domestic freezer. Such cubes have a dry surface and can be so cold that they will stick to your finger as they freeze the moisture on your hand. If using ice straight from a freezer consider leaving it at room temperature to temper as would ice cream to make it easier to scoop.

I use large 28x28x32mm (1x1x1¼") ice drawn straight from an ice machine with limited time in my ice chest before use as my ice machine is next to my station. It's drier than the ice used in many bars but is nowhere near as cold or dry as ice drawn straight from a domestic freezer. This is what I consider perfect cocktail ice.

A drink shaken with the kind of ice I use will gain roughly 25% dilution from the ice during shaking but many cocktails, such as the Daiquiri, benefit from higher levels of dilution. Some bartenders achieve this by shaking such cocktails with a combination of cubes and crushed ice. Levels of dilution produced by this method tend to be inconsistent. And, if you shake for a very prolonged period you still won't at much more dilution than a standard circa 12-second shake.

Stirring contributes less dilution than shaking, circa 20% with my style of ice but the same principles apply to ice used in stirred cocktails.

I recommend using ice straight from an ice machine or ice from a freezer that has been left to temper. Even then, some cocktails benefit from a measured amount of chilled water to add controlled additional dilution. Hence, in my recipes, it is common to see "10ml (1/3oz) of chilled water (omit if using wet ice)" as one of the last ingredients. Or occasionally a larger measure with "reduce if using wet ice".

If guests are coming store some water in an attractive, preferably not clear, bottle in your refrigerator and when used in front of your guests refer to it as "the secret ingredient." A splash of additional water can be the secret to a great cocktail!

Never use very wet ice! To test how wet your ice is, fill the large tin of your shaker with ice. Place a hawthorn strainer over the top and holding this in place upend the tin and move up and down briskly. Ice water comes out then your ice is too wet and may overly dilute your cocktails.

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