Bonus Cocktail-Ice Science!
Cocktail ice comes in multiple forms for multiple purposes. There are some shapes, like the long Collins style, or pebbled ice, that you may not work with much at home. But there are others that can really boost your personal cocktail game. For instance, if you’re making a shaken drink like a Whiskey Sour, try shaking with oversized cubes. They’ll increase the aeration and produce a pleasing, lightly frothy head for your finished product.
If you’re making a stirred drink like a Manhattan, cracked ice is the way to go. Take a large or a standard cube, and rap it with the back side of your barspoon. Crack a few of them, and the resulting splintered shards will offer increased surface area to cool and dilute your cocktail properly.
For a next-level tip, take a page from Colliau’s book at The Interval in San Francisco and use a digital thermometer barspoon to stir your drinks. As she told drinks writer Adam Rogers, it’s possible to take a drink’s temperature below freezing by stirring. Thermal energy is expended as you stir and the ice melts into the cocktail; it gets very cold, but it won’t freeze because of the alcohol in it. With a digital thermometer, you can take your drinks to precise temperatures (which equal levels of dilution).
Colliau stirs her Manhattan to exactly 32 degrees, because it’s a naturally balanced cocktail that doesn’t need much dilution. She brings her Old Fashioneds to 35 degrees, then serves them on a Whiskey Wedge to ensure extended cooling and minimal further dilution. For higher-proof recipes, she’ll stir until the drink’s temperature is well below freezing. This slightly prolonged dilution rounds off the alcohol notes in the drink, while brightening other elements like fresh citrus, and yielding a sparkling, extremely balanced final product.