Ice makes up to 70% of some drinks…ever thought about your cocktails from that angle?
Ice is King and if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon of educating yourself about the ins and outs of it and implementing that into your bar, then you are jeopardising the quality of your product and experience for your customers.
Let’s tackle the obvious – the purpose of ice is to dilute and alter temperature along with mouth feel (your selection of the type and consistency of ice, coupled with the specific cocktail preparation method will influence what the drink feels like in your mouth. Example – using crushed ice blended into the drink versus shaking that same drink with a large block of ice.)
Contrary to popular or perhaps even logical belief – the larger and clearer the ice block is (less trapped oxygen), the slower the dilution process will be. Generally, in a quest to avoid quick dilution, imbibers try to minimize the amount of ice in their glasses, however, this causes more dilution to occur at a faster rate due to the ice being such an effective conductor of heat within the liquids that it’s placed into, as well as the surface area of the ice being smaller (think of your home fridge’s standard ice blocks).
You want to be able to get the balance of ice or ‘chill’ in your drinks to serve up the perfect drinking experience. In order to do that, you’ll need to do some research…
Questions to consider about your bar’s ice program
So now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s look into what you should be considering about your own bar’s operational ice programs. With consumers’ education around their drinks being on the up rise, bars can no longer afford to skimp on ice programmes. There is also a shift towards having an ‘Instagram worthy’ venue and menu – creating drinks and a culture that makes your guests whip out their phones to get the first snapshot detailing where they’re spending their night and what gorgeous drink they’re delighting in. This is a sure fire way to boost marketing and sales via social media / word of mouth. So yes in short – a beautiful, crystal clear block of ice contributing – at the very least – toward your drinks’ beauty, will go a long way.
What is your ice made of?
Not every country has delicious, sweet water coming out of their taps. It is generally safer to use filtered water in your ice to avoid unwanted tastes of sodium, chorine and other chemicals. Using filtered or even boiled water will also assist in reducing the impurities within your ice. The cloudiness that you usually see in a piece of ice is created by the freezing process occurring inwardly towards the end of the process. Filtered water will also assist in reducing this to an extent (however you will need to consider different freezing methods such as directional freezing to get that crystal clear ice you desire)
What type of filtration is used in the production process?
Water filtration systems can be as simple and inexpensive as a simple filtration system purchased from any respected hardware store to something as complicated and expensive as an industrial reverse osmosis system. Reverse Osmosis – a technique used in one of the world most talked about bar ice programs – Aviary, Chicago – goes beyond the abilities of typical water filtration by using a semipermeable membrane to remove impurities from water.
Do you use an ice machine and if so, which one?
There is an ongoing debate in the industry about which ice machine create the best ice. The Hoshizaki is technically a spin off of the long standing Kold Draft machine and is generally favoured by industry experts now. The Kold Draft has a rep for producing the best quality ice, however is not great on running and maintenance.
These machines create ‘hard’ ice which is best for slow dilution and bringing the taste out in a cocktail. Two stainless steel plates hold an evaporator (‘upside down’ tray) – which allows the pure water to start freezing from the top and sides and allows impurities to be washed away. This is what creates that perfect, clear ice production that everyone is after. This production process also cuts out the need for filtration. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but these machines are well worth the heavy sum they go for – around $5000. Something to consider when purchasing an expensive piece of equipment like an industrial ice machine is ensuring one the purchases these machines from are reputable seller/importer that can provide ogoing maintenance needed.
They will pay off in the long run as opposed to purchasing blocks of ice for the bar. So start saving if you want that perfect ice.
Have a look at our Ice Tools to add to your Ice Program.