What comes to mind when thinking of the basics for a home bar? There’s the essential barware:

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Muddler
  • Jigger
  • Strainer

And of course, we can’t forget ingredients:

  • Liquors
  • Liqueurs
  • Mixers
  • Bitters
  • Garnishes

But what about the ice? After spending valuable time and money to make your dream home bar a reality, what type of ice are you planning to use? And do you have enough to keep the party going? For the budding bartender, these questions might sound absurd. Ice is ice, right?  Well, not exactly. Ice is actually the most important ingredient.

Ice is a vital ingredient in drink-making for two reasons. One, ice lowers the temperature of your drink, thus making it more refreshing and enjoyable. Second, ice has the ability to dilute, balance, and even enhance the flavors in your beverage. Christine Gallary, Food Editor at thekitchn.com, sums it up best in her article, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ice (Yes, Ice), when she explains that “our taste buds have difficulty detecting anything but extreme, bitter alcoholic flavors when tasting spirits straight-up since the alcohol content is so high. Adding ice means you’re adding water as it starts to melt.” In other words, ice has the power to create a refreshing, balanced beverage. But depending on what ice you use, it can dilute your drink too fast, introduce minerals and impurities, and even add odd flavors from odors hanging out in your freezer or cooler.

Old Fashion with Orange Peel

The size and density of the ice you choose is paramount when making drinks and cocktails. Large cubes melt slower, which are best for slow-sipping spirits like bourbon or whiskey. Nugget ice is recommended in rum drinks and blended beverages since they need water to balance out their sweet mixes and juices.

Regardless of its form, ice should be clear, not cloudy like refrigerator ice. When ice cubes are white, there are trapped oxygen bubbles and impurities within the ice. Trapped oxygen leads to a less dense cube, meaning that the ice will melt quickly, regardless of size. Not to mention, any odors lingering around in your freezer or cooler will find their way into your cloudy ice, and when that ice melts, those odors and impurities are released into your drink and change the flavors of your otherwise perfectly crafted cocktail. Simply put, the purer the ice, the better tasting the drink.

The quantity of ice on hand is equally important. Ice is needed for blended drinks, to shake and stir cocktails, and to freshen up guests’ glasses. It can be a pain to lug around ice bags and built-in freezer or countertop ice-makers never have the capacity to keep the party going. To round out your home bar, we recommend a Scotsman Gourmet Cube or Nugget Ice Machine.

Our Gourmet Clear Ice is hard, crystal-clear ice that melts slowly, while our Original Chewable Ice® Nugget is easy to chew and absorbs the flavors of your beverage quickly. Since both types of ice are made in a dedicated ice machine, your essential ingredient won’t have any lingering freezer odors or impurities. No matter which form is right for you, you can rest assured that your Scotsman ice will do its job of elevating your home-crafted beverage experience.

home bar with ice chest