Types of ice are full cube, half cube, crescent ice, nugget ice, Collins spears, flake ice, dry ice, ice balls, crushed ice, and gourmet ice. Down below, we will explain each type and suggest the best ways to use it.
1. Full Ice Cubes
Full cube ice (also knows as square ice) is the most popular type of ice that provides maximum aeration and cooling for any beverage. It melts at a slower rate, which reduces the amount of dilution. Full-cubed ice is hard and tough on teeth, which is why chewing it can be painful.
When to use full cube ice?
Use full cube ice for all chilling drinks, whiskeys, and bourbons, as well as for cocktails like Manhattan. Full cube ice is often 2-by-2 inches and clear, which is why it fits most glasses and it is commonly found in restaurants and bars. Bartenders typically use large full cubes for shaking.
2. Regular Ice Cubes/Half Ice Cubes
The regular cube is the most versatile type of ice. It is easily made with just a refrigerator and an ice tray and reminds of a butter pat. This type of ice uses less energy to create and freezes and melts at a quicker rate so it is easier to chew than the square ice. On the other hand, half-cubed ice dilutes drinks relatively fast.
When to use half-cubed ice?
Half cube ice is widely embraced in the hospitality industry but also has therapeutic use. The cubes are often 1-by-1 inches, which makes them easy to fit into any glass and blend into any drink. They mix well with tea, soft drinks (cola, orange soda, lemon-lime drinks), cocktails such as Margarita, Tonic, Gin, and coffee.
3. Crescent Ice
Crescent (also known as half-moon) ice is similar to standard and half-cubed ice but it boasts a different shape and fills the glass better, which reduces the number of spills and provides almost instant cooling and exceptional liquid displacement. It melts slowly and has rounded edges so it is harder to crush and chew.
When to use crescent ice?
Use crescent ice with soft and mixed drinks as well as for dispensing and bagging.
4. Nugget Ice
Nugget ice (also known as pellet, pebble, soft, or sonic ice) has a soft and chewy structure and blends with almost any type of drink. It cools down the beverage in an instant and keeps it cooler for longer. Also, it melts slowly while not absorbing the flavor but actually enhancing it. However, it takes more space in the glass, which reduces the amount of liquid. Nugget ice is quite dry and gentle so it doesn’t jam dispensers.
When to use nugget ice?
Nugget ice is versatile and used for cooling sodas, smoothies and frozen drinks, juleps, and cocktails. It is also used in salad bars to keep the salad cool and fresh as well as in other food service establishments for keeping the food in produce displays.
5. Collins Spears
Collins spears, specifically made for serving beverages in tall Collins glasses, are elongated, think ice blocks that slowly chill the drink and keep it cold and flavorful for an extended period of time. Because they melt very slowly, Collins spears don’t dilute the drink but keep both the drink and the glass cold.
When to use Collins spears?
This type of ice is ideal for whiskey soda, Mojito, and Gin&Tonic (highball cocktails in general).
6. Flake Ice/Shaved Ice
Flake (or shaved) ice has a texture that reminds of snow and thus doesn’t have a specific and uniform shape. It is very soft and thin and melts rapidly when used with liquids with a few exceptions.
When to use flake ice?
Flake ice makes the best choice for food displays (vegetables, meat, and seafood) and keeps the food cool, hydrated, and well preserved better than any other type of ice. It goes well with frozen desserts such as snow cones and blended drinks. Flake ice is easy to mold and makes the best ice choice for treating sports injuries.
7. Dry Ice
Dry ice is the type of ice that creates a smoky effect when blended with drinks. It doesn’t melt into a liquid but sinks to the bottom of the glass and keeps the glass and the drink cool for a long period of time. Since it is extremely cold (around -78.5 degrees Celsius), using protective gloves when working with it is mandatory (at least if one wants to avoid burns). Also, it is best not to ingest it. Dry ice is sold in a pellet/block form so you would have to crush it using an ice cracker and goggles to protect your eyes.
When to use dry ice?
Dry ice goes well with cocktails made for Halloween night, including Vampire’s kiss, Poison Apple Martini, and Smoking Blueberry Lavender Martini.
8. Ice Balls
Ice balls are similar to full cube ice-both types of ice keep your drink cool for a long period and melt slowly. However, ice balls are believed to melt at an even slower rate than large cubes because they fall to the bottom of the glass where they can keep the initial temperature. They are easy to stir, which may accelerate the cooling and more aesthetically pleasing.
When to use ice balls?
Use ice balls with drinks served in traditional, lowball glasses such as high-end spirits (Jim Beam, Hennessy, etc.).
9. Crushed Ice
Crushed ice is the type of ice one can make by crushing it using a mallet or by putting ice cubes in a blender. However, the best crushed ice comes from dedicated machines (fountain machines and refrigerators). The biggest downside of crushing ice in a blender is wasting a large portion of ice that gets melted due to the heat of the motor. Crushed ice gives any drink a nice texture and fullness, dilutes it at a relatively slow rate, and makes it ultra-refreshing.
When to use crushed ice?
Crushed ice is used with beverages that have a slushie-like consistency and use juices and syrups, such as tiki drinks (Pina Colada, Mai Tai, Frozen Daiquiri), swizzle cocktails (Rum Swizzle), cobblers, and strong spirits that need a lot of dilution.
10. Gourmet Ice/Clear Ice
Gourmet ice is crystal-clear, cylindrical, sometimes hollow in the middle, adds a high degree of aesthetic to the drink, and provides rapid chilling and an even melt. It comes in a range of shapes, although the top hat (also known as octagon-shaped, or clear ice) makes its most common variant. Gourmet ice doesn’t dilute the drink and, thus, doesn’t spoil its flavor.
When to use gourmet ice?
Gourmet ice is a preferred choice for upscale bars, restaurants, and special events and goes best with non-blended drinks like whiskey.
The art of ice making goes far beyond knowing how to produce it. You should know about various types of ice and what can you do with them first, and we hope this post made it clear for all cocktail, high-end spirit, and frozen dessert enthusiasts out there.