Ice cubes are absolutely essential for cocktail parties. You’ll probably use six cubes of ice for every cocktail, at minimum.
But here’s the problem: ice cubes that are stored for too long in the freezer usually absorb some of the essence of the surrounding frozen food. You may have not noticed the difference in the taste, but your guests may notice — especially if the strange taste mixes with the various ingredients of a cocktail.
There are two ways to prevent stale ice cubes from reaching your guests’ glasses: buy a bag of ice cubes on the day of the party, or make ice cubes a day before the party. This way, all the ice that you’re going to use will be fresh and will have none of the awful taste associated with stale cubes. (Sometimes stale cubes taste like uncooked beef or, even worse, frozen fish.)
There are other kinds of ice, and each type of ice has its own peculiar characteristics:
1. Cracked ice – Cracked ice, compared to regular ice cubes, melt easier in room temperature. Cracked ice dilutes a cocktail faster than frozen cubes.
Some people prefer using cracked ice when creating crushed ice because frozen cubes tend to obstruct the smooth oscillation of a blender’s sharp blades. If you use cracked ice instead of ice cubes, a single tall cocktail will usually require 1 cup of this type of ice.
2. Shaved ice – Shaved ice is handy when you want to create liqueur-based snow cones. Cocktails that would look better if they had a thicker consistency can be made to appear thicker if shaved ice is used instead of cracked ice or ice cubes.
3. Japanese ice balls – As the name implies, Japanese ice balls first became popular in Japan. In busy bars in Japan, skillful bartenders create perfectly round ice pieces from blocks of ice manually with an assortment of ice picks. Japanese ice balls are notable for their resistance to melting, as opposed to ice cubes and cracked ice.
Cocktail lovers know that eventually, after a few minutes, a perfectly good glass of gin will taste like water if regular ice cubes or shavings are used. You can create your own ice balls with the help of ice ball molds that come in plastic or metal. Metal molds are more expensive, but are sturdier and last longer than plastic variants.