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Cool as Ice


Cocktails come in countless variations. Yet there is one ingredient that unites them… ice. Mads Voorhoeve, founder of the European Bartender school and Entree’s Best Bartender 2018, and Paul Swaen, director of ice maker specialist Hoshizaki, share their tips on how to use ice properly.

Source: Iris Kranenburg – Entree magazine – July/August 2019

Use a lot of ice

Swaen: “When ice melts into a drink, it dilutes it. This is at the expense of taste and it’s quite likely that the last sip will be just water. My tip: the more ice you use, the slower it melts.” Voorhoeve knows from experience that guests often misunderstand this: “It happens quite often that guests ask for less ice, believing that they are being tricked with a glass full of ice. Quite the opposite is the case, as a generous amount of ice actually enhances the quality of a cocktail.” Shaking a cocktail also requires a lot of ice, Swaen explains. “By using a cocktail shaker full of ice for ten to fifteen seconds, less ice will melt, the taste is maintained while also bringing the cocktail to the right temperature.” Voorhoeve: “Ice is the basis of every cocktail. Chefs have fire, bartenders have ice.”


Not every ice cube is the same, as Swaen underlines. “The harder and clearer the ice, the less oxygen it contains, the slower it melts. The hardness and clarity are partly determined by the technology in the ice machine.” And what about the size of the cubes? Swaen: “Ice cubes come in all shapes and sizes, but the usual size is 28x28x32 millimetres. In general: the smaller the surface area in proportion to the volume, the less dilution you can expect. There’s a reason why crushed ice melts fast. Nugget ice, however, is very hard and is compressed using a special technique and cut into pieces by a machine.” Voorhoeve adds: “As a bartender, you want to control the ice and how it dilutes the drink. A Mojito requires quite high dilution, whereas a Gin and Tonic doesn’t.”


Make sure to calculate your ice consumption”, a recommendation by Swaen. “Many people underestimate their ice consumption and end up loosing a lot of time with refilling lapses from the ice maker to the bar . An average of 0.75 to 1 kg of ice per seat in a cocktail bar is consumed every day. For example, you need about 300 g of ice per cocktail and additional ice to chill the glass. Based on these figures, you can also determine the required size of the ice maker.”


Voorhoeve: “ It is a common misconception that bacteria inside or on the surface of ice are destroyed due to sub-zero temperatures. Actually, bacteria populations continue to grow, as soon as the conditions change, for example, as soon as the temperature rises. This is why you should never touch ice with your hands, but use an ice scoop instead.” Swaen says: “In fact, you should never leave the ice scoop, which is constantly touched by hands, inside the bin. This will minimize the risk of transmission of bacteria to the ice. You should also clean the ice bin regularly to prevent black mould, which is bad for your health. Ice is basically a nutrient – it’s food. So treat it that way.”

It happens quite often that guests ask for less ice, believing that they are being tricked with a glass full of ice.

Paul Swaen