Why the Shape of Ice Matters in Craft Cocktails and Beverages


Craft cocktails are now the norm in the bar and restaurant industry, and they are here to stay. Across the U.S., trendy and inventive drinks with clever names are claiming higher prices, with $20 per drink in some cities.

With the continued craft cocktail trend, the move toward superior ice is becoming a requirement, as it can make the difference between a good drink and a great one. It can also be the difference between a profitable beverage and an even more profitable one. Operators can’t charge $20 for a well-balanced craft cocktail but have poor ice quality. This begs the question for many bar owners, does the size and shape of ice really have such a strong impact on the drink’s outcome? The answer is yes, but it’s important to understand why.

The Types of Ice

Many types of ice are created to give specific drinks a better and more balanced taste, along with multiple benefits.

Clear Ice

Clear ice is made by freezing warm water for up to 24 hours then cutting it into cubes with a serrated knife. For the highest-end bars, clear ice shapes for beverages become any design by using an ice pick. Clear ice is best used for high-end cocktails because they melt slowly, thus decreasing the rate of dilution, and have fewer impurities, which could impact the flavor of the drink. Given the beauty and luxe of clear ice, having it at the bar can greatly increase profits, and now there are ice makers that can make this job easier, removing the manual labor.

Cubelet Ice

Although the cubelet ice may not be best for cocktails, it has its place in bars and restaurants. Cubelet ice is most used for soft drinks because they do an amazing job of taking the liquid in the glass and turning it into a “munchable” format. Many describe cubelet ice as tiny pieces of candy when it’s contained within a soft drink. In a cocktail bar, it can make a great ice format for drinks like punches and mixed drinks.

Large Square

Larger square cubes are an excellent option because they can be stirred or shaken to create an incredible drink. As opposed to cubelet ice which melts faster because they are thinner, large square cubes won’t melt as fast and stack well in glassware. Large square ice is most found in traditional cocktails like rum and coke or vodka and soda water.


Spheres or king cubes are the leading craft cocktail ice types in bars today. They are ideal for maintaining a consistently cold temperature with less dilution. This shape of ice is perfect for high-end cocktails or spirits in rocks glasses. For instance, whiskey often uses a spherical shape of ice because it melts slower due to its geometry.

Bar and restaurant experts advise having large-format square and sphere cube molds available at the very minimum for higher-end drinks. These ice shapes for beverages add a higher-end touch to each cocktail while still being affordable. Utilizing several types of ice can go a long way to impacting the bar or restaurant’s bottom line by increasing profits amongst the higher-end clientele.

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