The science of cooling down.


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Some say ice is the most important, and most neglected, component of the cocktail craft.

“I have definitely learned a lot about ice,” says Ryan Dierks, co-owner and bar manager at Truckee Tavern and Grill. “It seems a myth that a large cube keeps your drink colder longer than small cubes. While it won’t melt as quickly because of less surface area, it won’t make it colder, since chilling is directly correlated to dilution.”

This self-proclaimed bar geek breaks down his ice ethos for cocktail neophytes, explaining that the size of the ice should match the desired outcome. For instance, an old fashioned should have minimum dilution, so large cubes are preferred. But when it comes to a mint julep on a hot summer day, use crushed ice for rapid dilution and chilling.

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Most top drinking establishments enjoy the luxury of ice machines, but such contraptions aren’t feasible for home bartenders. Fortunately, online sources, such as, offer a myriad of food-grade rubber ice molds rendering assorted-sized cubes for various purposes. Look for ice ball molds that feature tops, designed to avoid freezer odor and flavor. Because no one wants his or her perfect Manhattan tasting like that batch of chili that was stashed in the freezer three months ago.

For those who like their ice to do double duty, try infusing cubes with spirits, fruit juice, and various natural flavorings.

Cantaloupe and Coconut Ice Cubes

(courtesy of Makes 12 cubes)

½ cantaloupe

2 tablespoons lime juice

400 milliliters (8 fluid ounces) coconut milk

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Peel and cube melon. Purée with lime juice. Spoon into an ice-cube tray, filling halfway, then freeze until solid. Mix coconut milk and powdered sugar. Pour over melon and freeze again. These cubes are a wonderful addition to any island-themed cocktail.




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