Pick the right type of ice for your at-home bar sessions

Making a cocktail at home tonight? Then make sure you know what type of ice you should be using.

An ingredient often overlooked by many, ice has more to it than just keeping your drink cold. You might be thinking about how the shape and size of ice affect the quality of the drink? From binding fresh aromas to watering down intense flavors, it can at times elevate a cocktail from one rank to another.  

The role ice plays in cocktail-making can be witnessed with flavor profiles. Most cocktails taste better when served chilled, with ice adding strength and texture. As the ice melts, it forms a part of the mixture. This is where the ice types come into play, bringing different elements with them. From slow-melting spears to refreshing pebbles, bartenders employ ice in their drinks with a set motive, exemplifying its importance in the cocktail industry.

Here are five ice types every cocktail lover should have knowledge about:


Also known as nugget ice, small cubes work well with cocktails that require extensive dilution. Pebbled ice is a popular pick by bartenders when crafting refreshing summer cocktails like the swizzle, julep, mojito, and more. It helps bring down the potency and consistency of hard spirits to make slurping more desirable.

Bourbon Mint Julep

Recipe by The Humble Garnish

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Bourbon Mint Julep cocktail made with pebbled ice, Source: Website

Gluing the refreshing mint flavor with bourbon, the Bourbon Mint Julep bursts with the refreshing coolness of the fast melting pebbled ice. The Cowboy Bourbon is a strong 131 proof whiskey that simmers down on its potency with the ice and simple syrup.

3½ oz bourbon (try Cowboy Bourbon, gold medal, USA Spirits Ratings)
1¼ oz simple syrup
8-12 mint leaves spearmint or peppermint
Pebbled ice

Place fresh mint leaves in the bottom of a highball glass.

Add a small portion of the simple syrup and muddle until leaves are well-torn. Add the simple syrup.

Add half the bourbon and some pebbled ice, then stir.

Pack the glass to the top with pebbled ice, pour the remaining bourbon over the ice, then top off one more time with ice until it is cresting the top of the glass. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh mint and add a straw.

Large cubes

The 2x2 inch cubes are perfect when it comes to enjoying long sipping sessions. Whether it is a fine Scotch or a cocktail like the Manhattan, large ice cubes melt slowly. It is an ideal candidate for shaking up a cocktail or resting a top-quality spirit that requires a bit of time to gulp.

Kentucky River

Recipe by Liquor

largeicecubes kentuckyrivercocktail

Kentucky River, Source: Website, image by The Venetian

Sip on Kentucky River with a large ice cube in the middle, keeping the drink cool. With a slightly bitter palate, the cocktail is suitable for those who like to take their time while sipping on a high-quality brown.


    2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
    1/2 oz Tempus Fugit crème de cacao
    3 dashes of peach bitters
    Garnish: Lemon twist
    1 large ice cube

Add all the ingredients and a large ice cube into a double Old Fashioned glass and stir. Garnish with a lemon twist.


Yes, we are talking about the oxymoron round ice cube. The ice balls can be found floating in cocktails like the Old Fashioned in low-ball glasses. They melt slower, cover more area, and have a slow dilution effect, a combination hard for its counterparts to match on the list.

Old Fashioned

Recipe by Home Sweet Jones

spheredice oldfashioned

Old Fashioned, Source: Website

The classic Old Fashioned made from Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel starts off with honeycomb and orange peel aromas, leading to a sweet caramel and vanilla palate. A spherical ice cube plays its part in holding the flavors together, slowly diluting bitter notes with sweet ones.


1 sugar cube
2-3 dashes angostura bitters
2 oz (1/4 c) whiskey (try Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel, Whiskey of the Year, 2021 USA Spirits Ratings)
1 splash club soda or water
1 orange twist
1 maraschino cherry
Sphered ice cubes

Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass and moisten with angostura bitters. Add the whiskey and a sphere ice cube. Add a small splash of club soda or water, to taste. Stir with a bar spoon until cold, for about 30 seconds.

Rub an orange twist around the rim of the glass. Garnish with the orange twist and cherry.


The spear or long blocked ice is used in highball and Collins glasses to keep the drink chill for long durations. Due to its size, it makes the process of dilution long and tedious. Many bartenders use this method for storing cocktails, but you can use it for a gin and tonic as well. If you have a glass tall enough to house one with a motive of holding the glass for a while, use this ice type.

Classic Whiskey Highball

Recipe by A Couple Cooks

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Blocked ice cubes in Whiskey Highball cocktail, Source: Website

Scenting with aromas of toasted grains, red plum, and cinnamon, Whiskey Highball basks in Black Whiskey’s rich butterscotch layers. The spear ice keeps the dark nuances intact, keeping the drink assertively cool.


2 oz whiskey (try Black Whiskey, gold medal, 2021 USA Spirits Ratings)
4 oz soda water (or ginger ale or ginger beer, for a sweeter spin*)
Lemon wedge
Spear ice pieces

Fill a glass with ice. Pour in the whiskey and soda water. Stir gently. Squeeze in the lemon wedge and serve.    


Dominating the slushie game, crushed ice is a popular pick for daiquiri, tiki cocktails, and cobblers. You can either crush ice in a blender or resort to the traditional method of battering the ice with a mallet wrapped in a clean cloth.

Frozen Daiquiri

Recipe by Absolut Drinks

Nothing beats the heat like a frozen daiquiri. The crushed ice perfectly balances the citrusy flavors of lime with strong flavors of Cuban rum.


Crushed ice
1½ parts Cuban rum
1 part lime juice
¾ part simple syrup
Fill a blender with crushed ice. Add all the ingredients. Blend and pour into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lime.

Header image - Cottonbro, Source: Pexels

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