Mixology: ice, the must-have in your freezer
Small is beautiful, and the humble ice cube is without doubt one of the smallest - and the most essential - elements of your party. Ice turns up in just about every cocktail recipe you can think of, and even if you are not mixing cocktails, many drinks are greatly improved by being served 'on the rocks'.
Ice: exceptionally basic and yet exceptionally easy to mess up. Perfecting this art will seal your status as a master host.
The rate at which ice melts depends on its surface area. Crushed ice has a large surface area since it is made up of several of smaller pieces. As such, it melts faster than ice cubes and is ideal for keeping cocktails at a steady temperature of zero degrees Celsius.
Crushed ice is easy to make. If you have a blender or food processor (preferably a heavy duty one), simply place some ice cubes into it and switch it on. No blender? Find a clear, sturdy plastic bag, fill it with ice cubes, place it on a wooden chopping board, and using a wooden mallet, hit the bag repeatedly until all the ice is crushed. Do this slowly for two reasons: to get an even texture and, more importantly, to ensure that the bag does not split!
Best in … Mint Julep
SMALL ICE CUBES
Small cubes will cool your drink faster than large ones (on the downside, they will dilute them faster too). Ice cubes that have been frozen to minus one degree Celsius should chill your drink to zero.
In order to get crystal clear ice cubes, either use bottled still water or boiled tap water. Experts recommend that you boil tap water more than once to ensure that you've eliminated all the impurities before filling your ice cube trays with it. Don't forget to let the water cool first!
Best with… Moët Ice Imperial or a Belvedere Spritz
LARGE ICE CUBES
For a more concentrated drink, choose large ice cubes as they take longer to melt. You make large ice cubes in the same way you make small ones; simply use an ice cube tray that has larger moulds.
If space allows, dedicate one drawer in your freezer for making ice cubes. That way, they won't pick up unwanted smells or flavours from other frozen foods you have stored. If you don't have much freezer space to spare, pack food into airtight plastic containers before storing them in the freezer – and make sure their lids are firmly shut.
Best with… Hennessy X.O Cognac