Ice seems simple enough, just water frozen, right? However, ice is so much more complex, especially when it comes to drinking fine spirits. Common tap water can easily contain well over 100 impurities ranging from rust from the pipes to sewage, and of course chlorine, just to name a few. So all the more reason that you should be paying very close attention to the water you cook with and use for your cocktails.
Who is to say what ice consisted of 100 years ago. It could have been water drawn from a well which was pristine, or, it could have been from whatever plumbing they had back then. Back in the colonial days of America, people did in fact drink hard cider pressed from apples and ale because water was even poisonous in many instances.
No matter what the situation was, I am willing to bet its far better than the tap we drink now. Then again, with fracking, and so many other factors, there is no way you could be too cautious. There is proof that well over 100 contaminants are in our tap water today. I am not willing to entertain a big dissertation or discussion on all the elements that can and do find their way into our water supply, but if you live in any small town that is supplied from a city you can be sure of just a few things: rust, chlorine, fluoride, copper, lead, etc. Here is how you can do your own research, start here with the official US Government website: water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/#List – and while much of this might not kill you, its good to know that you are aware of it.
Now that we acknowledge that water is the only and most significant to ice which is going to chill and even dilute the drink in your hand, its time to get serious about ice. Do you really want water from your sink with fluoride, chlorine, rust and who knows what else, in your glass of single malt scotch, rare bourbon, or anything else? Especially if that bottle you cherish costs $50, $75, $100 or more, do you really want to destroy the flavor profiles with chemicals like chlorine or anything else? I should hope not. Nothing makes me cringe more then when I see a bottle of fine scotch or Pappy Van Winkle bourbon in a glass with those cloudy semicircle ice cubes that you know came from the tap water that feeds the freezer.
Once you realize all of this, it gets easier. You simply go to the supermarket and buy a bottle of anything that is spring water or better. You will find spring water from France, Norway, Iceland, even down under in the South Pacific like Fiji. Choose your favorite, and yes, people will laugh at you. However, water from different parts of the world will taste different for many reasons. Sometimes its the pH balance, other times its the dissolved minerals, and just to take the point further, water that trickles down through limestone (like in Kentucky) or the mountains in Italy, yes, if you pay attention, it does taste different.
If you have the money and want to get really fancy but not so fancy as to spend thousands of dollars on an industry model ice-making machine, consider Gläce Luxury Ice. This by far is the most beautiful ice you can ever buy. They ship it overnight and it comes to you still harder than a rock because they freeze it at temperatures no household freezer can even come close to attaining. They come in round or square, they are beautiful, impressive, and you certainly don’t want to be pouring your expensive prized spirit over ice made from a home freezer that came from tap water. Think about that next time you are lucky enough to find a bottle of Pappy, Johnnie Walker Blue or anything else that costs over $150/bottle.
With all the focus on the revived cocktail culture these days it is refreshing to see so many products out there which will help you replicate what you might or should find in a fancy cocktail lounge. But you have to be aware of the pitfalls. With just as many bars charging $15 for a cocktail with a fancy name which is nothing more than a highball down the street for a third the price, there are also many products out there which are failures just looking to cash in on the trend. There is ice for every occasion, whether it be your fine whiskey, vodka on ice or tiki drinks… take a look:
- Polar Ice Tray
- Gläce Luxury Ice
- Glacier Sphere Ice Ball
- Rabbit Ice Maker
- Stone Cold Easter Island Statue Heads
- Tovolo Clear Ice System
- Tovolo Tiki Ice Cube Molds