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Chris Amirault

Workable, Real-World Solutions to Wet Ice in Warm Bins

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So does anyone want to take a crack at a list of workable, real-world strategies?

Shake your 0C ice hard, one drink at a time, in a capacious Boston shaker to get that energy release and temperature drop?

Store your 0C ice in a perforated hotel pan over another pan, to keep it as dry as possible?

Or...?

A normal ice bin that would be used in a bar or restaraunt should be draining water off the whole time, indeed I think this is a health code requirement.

I think that chilling glasses is a must for all 'up' drinks, using as much ice as possible (which usually means making drinks one at a time) and lots of practice and tasting drinks along the way while acclimating yourself to the conditions to produce proper dilution are all good things to do when working with inferior ice. Higher proof spirits and more concentrated (ie, 2:1) syrups can both tolerate dilution better as well and can be a help when applicable.

Hmmm...there was something else I was going to add here but I lost it.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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No one here, I'm pretty sure, is laboring under the illusion that properly made cocktails lack water. But, to your point, Shalmanese isn't stipulating that which need not be stipulated. He's suggesting "topping...off" drinks with water after they've been strained, which makes no sense to me at all.

I can't imagine he means literally "topping it off," but I can't figure out what it does mean. Do you stir the water in the glass, or strain it into another mixing glass and then pour it? Temperature is hard to figure out too: I like my drinks around 27-29F, and that means any water is going to warm up the drink. So, under-dilute and chill with supercold ice, shake/stir, strain into another mixing glass, add water, stir, strain again... I don't get it.

It's not a bad drink, it's just not a martini. Adding ice-cold water after the fact makes it a martini, although the technique leaves something to be desired, style-wise.

We are in agreement that it leaves something to be desired!

I mean literally topping off. Make an underdiluted drink, pour into a glass where you know what the right level is, add just enough chilled water and stir. You don't need to reshake and strain, a quick stir with a swizzle should be enough to incorporate the water. It shouldn't affect the temperature overly much since it's only a tiny amount of water.

All of this is leading up to a much larger rant about how poor a technique shaking is for making a good cocktail. Sure, good training can make up for poor technique but it seems unnecessary to have to continue to deal with the inherent imprecision of shaking unless you absolutely have to.


PS: I am a guy.

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As regards real-world solutions... After I measure ingredients into a shaker tin (without ice), I push the tin into the ice well, spin it, and leave it on the ice for at least 30 seconds (while I prep a garnish, sugar a rim, or prepare another drink on the ticket, for example). The hope is that doing this will lower the temperature of the metal and prechill the liquid inside without dilution. Then I add ice and stir or shake. I'm not sure if this makes much of a difference, however.


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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I mean literally topping off. Make an underdiluted drink, pour into a glass where you know what the right level is, add just enough chilled water and stir. You don't need to reshake and strain, a quick stir with a swizzle should be enough to incorporate the water. It shouldn't affect the temperature overly much since it's only a tiny amount of water.

I can't say what about this confuses others but for my own part I'm missing the advantage to doing this over just making the drink properly to begin with. If you can measure dilution with such precision that you would know the exact amount of water still required by the drink to come to full volume then certainly you can just stir or shake the drink until the ice has provided this water without adding an additional (and seemingly cumbersome) step.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Right, the logical conclusion to this method would be to just not shake at all: keep the liquor in the freezer and measure everything directly into a chilled glass, then add the appropriate amount of water.

To be honest, I'm surprised that no one has tried this yet (that I've heard of) since I think it's occurred to everyone at some point or another. It seems like something the molecular mixology movement might love.


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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I mean literally topping off. Make an underdiluted drink, pour into a glass where you know what the right level is, add just enough chilled water and stir. You don't need to reshake and strain, a quick stir with a swizzle should be enough to incorporate the water. It shouldn't affect the temperature overly much since it's only a tiny amount of water.

I can't say what about this confuses others but for my own part I'm missing the advantage to doing this over just making the drink properly to begin with. If you can measure dilution with such precision that you would know the exact amount of water still required by the drink to come to full volume then certainly you can just stir or shake the drink until the ice has provided this water without adding an additional (and seemingly cumbersome) step.

You can't tell the amount of dilution until the drink has come out of the shaker, at which time it's impossible to correct if you over-dilute. Thus, you're only solutions are to wing it and hope you have the right dilution level or always aim for underdilution and correct in the glass for perfect dilution. Don't get me wrong, winging it can be an acceptable solution especially if you have an adequate handle on the ice. But it's the difference between putting a roast in the oven at 10 minutes per pound and hoping it comes out medium rare vs using a probe thermometer and pulling it out when it's at exactly the right temp.


PS: I am a guy.

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To be honest, I'm surprised that no one has tried this yet (that I've heard of) since I think it's occurred to everyone at some point or another. It seems like something the molecular mixology movement might love.

I've tried it at home and can report the following:

1. My freezer barely has enough room for one bottle of gin and one bottle of vermouth. Unless we want to replace bar shelves with a walk-in freezer, that's a problem.

2. Most freezers are set well below the temperature you want for a cocktail, so heating the drink is one of the steps of a cocktail made in this manner. That is to say, the customer has to sit around and wait for his drink to warm up.

3. Part of the point of bartending -- indeed, some say the entire point of bartending -- is that it involves gestures of a la minute hospitality, a dance of front and back of house during which the customer gets a little show that results in a fine libation, all for them. Eliminating the bulk of that has all the romance of pressing a button on a nitro-pour system and slapping down the stem -- which is to say, none. Hell, I missed the ritual when I was making drinks for myself in the kitchen.

In short, it's hard to see a workable set-up using this approach in a bar serving customers, which is what we're discussing here.


Edited by Chris Amirault clarification (log)

Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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As regards real-world solutions... After I measure ingredients into a shaker tin (without ice), I push the tin into the ice well, spin it, and leave it on the ice for at least 30 seconds (while I prep a garnish, sugar a rim, or prepare another drink on the ticket, for example). The hope is that doing this will lower the temperature of the metal and prechill the liquid inside without dilution. Then I add ice and stir or shake. I'm not sure if this makes much of a difference, however.

Unfortunately, not only does this probably not do much to lower the temperature of the liquid in the mixing tin, but it also contaminates the ice in the well. There's a reason we're not supposed to use the mixing tin to scoop ice.


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Ah. Well there is that. Guess I will be abandoning that practice.


Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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