Ice Ice Baby

Let's talk about ice. Almost all cocktails require ice, either in the making or the presentation, and it often takes up a large volume of the glass. Ice can make or break a drink, so let's give it the respect it deserves.

It's crazy to think that something so ubiquitous for us used to be considered a real luxury. Wealthy Romans built insulated ice houses out of tightly packed straw to store the ice blocks they harvested from the alps, whilst Emperor Nero famously packed his wine glass with crushed ice to keep it cold. In 1845 a chap called Dr John Gorrie invented the first ice machine. By the mid 19th century it had become extremely fashionable to chill your food and drink. This kickstarted a new age in cocktails, where ice wasn't just a way of chilling drinks, but was also part of the performance, the construct and the garnish. Drinks such as the julep and the smash were created, with great crowns of crushed ice covered in fruits and flowers. Where the US led the UK soon followed, with "American bars" popping up around England, cementing ice as an integral part of cocktails.

Be it an impressive crown of crushed ice frosting up our julep tin or a great hunk of ice preventing over dilution of our old fashioned, we owe a lot to  frozen water. So raise a cold glass to the unsung hero of mixed drinks.

Hix Julep

Hix Julep

Cherry, vanilla and whisky churned with crushed ice 

Hix Julep

Build in a julep tin, churn with crushed ice. Top with an ice crown. Garnish with a cherry and mint sprig.


For John

Stir down and serve in a rocks glass over an ice block. Garnish with a lemon twist.


Written by Dee Davies