i was reminded last night of just how essential ice is as a cocktail ingredient.
in order to properly warm a cliquot-loving friend's new apartment, i brought a flask of pre-measured gin and st. germain and a bottle of prosecco to make elderfashion royales. the only thing i didn't bring - and hadn't thought i needed - was ice. like habit, i put the glassware in the freezer and started looking around for the clear stuff...but alas! after some playful admonishing, i went ahead with the drink, swirling it in a frozen pint glass and then topping the chilled flute with prosecco.
ah, but there's the rub. a drink is not stirred, shaken, or built with ice for the bracing chill alone; dilution is - i would argue - the most important side effect. you don't want to poison your guests, after all.
so, i ended up trying two versions of the cocktail - one straight up, and one with 1/4 oz of water to simulate a little bit of dilution. and there was definitely a difference...the 'watered down' one was indeed rounder.
the cocktails turned out nicely (as st. germain and bubbly usually do), and made the night's conversations all the more pleasant.
now, i've been trying to restrain myself from becoming an ice snob, as bartenders are wont to do. i don't boil my water beforehand, or purify it, or do two stages of freezing...but i will admit to buying some tovolo trays, which give very solid one inch cubes. they've got a lot more shaking power than chipped ice, and they look sexy in a collins glass.
however, i think this might take it too far: physicists have discovered a new kind of ice, dubbed ice xv. it is formed only at high pressures and is a little strange, being antiferroelectric. i don't know how it would change a drink, but it'd be impossible to find out anyway. i guess those scientists will have to celebrate their achievement with some champagne chilled in regular ol' ice ih.
as a final ice news note, check out this slideshow of different kinds of solid water and then tell me people aren't obsessed with this all too common, all too weird substance.