The most important ingredient in any cocktail. The rule here is that you always needmore ice than you think. The 12 half-filled cubes from the top section of your freezer simply won’t cut it here. Party ice from the service station is a small upgrade from this, but is still a poor relation.
Be prepared – make heaps of ice in advance to avoid major disappointment & a trip to the shops just as your guests arrive. Buy a few large ice moulds & create a space in the freezer to build up a good supply of ice so you’re always party ready. A massive tupperware container dedicated to ice is your friend here.
The biggest principle to understand with ice is that the bigger & harder the ice that you’re using, the better it is. Small bits of ice melt faster and add undesired amounts of water to your shaker / glass, and therefore your drinks. We call this type of ice ‘Shice’ – Shitty Ice. What you want are bold flavours, not diluted, watery drinks. At Black Pineapple H.Q we have an ice machine that makes the largest, hardest ice commercially available, and regularly transport 500kg of said ice to events versus using party ice, because that’s the difference ice makes to drinks.
For the ice that goes in the drink itself (versus the shaker), the rule is that you absolutely fill & pack the glass with ice. Never be the person in a bar that asks for just a little bit of ice (because you think it’s better value somehow). The reality is that less ice = warmer in the glass = ice melting = dilution = shitty quality drinks. The more ice, the colder, less dilution = punchy amazing.
BLOCK ICE – LARGE BLOCKS OF ICE
You can make these at home by freezing water in Tupperware containers (that’s what we do at Black Pineapple!) These blocks melt really slowly so are perfect for putting in the middle of a punch bowl (and they look dope).
LARGE FORMAT ICE
Approx 5Cm Squared Ice Cubes. Used for – Shaking cocktails and amazing for strong, punchy drinks like the Negroni or Old fashioned.
Good news is that you can buy molds for these on our website!
Ideally 3-4 Cm Squared Ice Cubes. Party ice from the servo is your closest best.
Like Cocktail-Ready Snow. Put cubed / party ice in the middle of a large tea towel, then wrap it up & beating into submission with a rolling pin until it’s consistently snowy.
PRO BAR TOOLS
I would say this because we sell premium professional bar kit through our website, but the right tools make a huge difference. You can’t cook with a blunt knife & while there are work-arounds with stuff you can find buried behind the smoothie blender at the back of the cupboard, you can’t beat the using the correct equipment for the best results.
A TIN ON TIN SHAKER
2 bits of stainless steel that when snapped together form a vacuum inside of which to vigorously shake your ingredients into a perfect marriage.
(Don’t forget to add heaps of ice).
A HAWTHORNE STRAINER
Used for pouring the liquid out of the shaker & into your glass. You want one with a nice, heavy, well-coiled spring (trust me).
A JIGGER / MEASURE
You can’t make a cake by guessing how much flour & butter, and you can’t make great, balanced drinks without accurately knowing how much of each ingredient is in there. Invest in a small & large measurer – we sell both.
LONG BAR SPOON
Essential for combining ingredients / stirring long drinks. Also makes you look cool, especially when it has a pineapple on the top of it.
LARGE FORMAT ICE MOULDS
See above section on ice
STYLES OF DRINKS
Cocktails come in all shapes & sizes, and it pays to have an understanding of the different types. Each style requires a different technique for making, different types of ice, and of course glassware.
SHORT & BOOZY
Think (Espresso) Martinis, Old Fashioneds, Negronis. These are strong, booze-forward cocktails that will have few / no ingredients other than alcohol
& therefore designed to sip, respectfully, classily (versus deleted in one go).
Drinks that are lengthened out with citrus, syrups & other ingredients (we collectively call these Modifiers). Think Whisky sours, frozen Daiquiris.
TALL AND REFRESHING
Think G&T, Mojito. Served in large glasses with lots of ice for maximum refreshment.
Designed for sharing in groups & deserve their own punch bow to hang out in. Decorate & garnish them like a cake & invite your friends around.
You wouldn’t serve soup on a plate, so don’t shake an Espresso Martini into a pint glass. Just like with wine, the right glass will amplify & show your cocktail off in the best possible light. Martinis go in Martini Glasses (or better, Coupettes). Shaken short & boozy drinks go in nice solid rocks glasses over ice, Tall & Refreshing cocktails go in highballs or massive wine glasses.
It’s super hard to teach technique with words and no pictures, so I won’t attempt to (we’ll shoot some how-to videos). Just to say though that up-skilling yourself on some of the basic physical techniques of bartending will make your drinks amazing while making you look super cool = double win!
If you made it to the end, congrats – you’re closer to being the King or Queen of the party. Now up to you if you share, or keep your boss-level moves to yourself.