Cocktail 101: How to Crack Ice


A few weeks ago, I wrote an entry about ice—crushed, cracked, and whole. This week, we'll go into a wee bit more detail about cracked ice and how to make it.

Why would you want to use cracked ice? Perhaps your whole ice cubes don't move smoothly in a mixing glass when you stir, or they're too bulky to be crushed in a blender. Or maybe you just like the texture of cracked ice in a beverage.

The easiest way to crack ice might be to wrap it in a tea towel or napkin (or pile it into a plastic bag) and slam it to shards with a mallet or rolling pin, while pretending it's a former flame or your landlord.

But if you just want to crack three or four cubes to stir a martini over, or you're looking to impress a date or guest with your flashy technique, try this nifty method for cracking it in your hands with a bar spoon.

What you'll need:

  • Ice
  • Bar spoon
  • Mixing glass or cocktail shaker

What you'll do:

  1. Take an ice cube and set it in the palm of your non-dominant hand.
  1. Hold the bar spoon in your dominant hand, with the inside of the bowl of the spoon facing you.
  2. Whack the outer bowl of the spoon against the cube. Turn the cube in your hand so another face is exposed and whack again. Your spoon should strike the ice like so:
  1. You normally will only need to smack the cube about three or four times before it breaks apart.

You'll wind up with small shards of ice, larger slivers, and still-larger chunks. That's fine. The small shards will melt into your drink while you're stirring, providing dilution, and the slivers and chunks will stay pretty solid, providing chill.

More Cocktail 101

Bitters: History and a Comeback »
All About Bitters: Angostura and Peychaud's »
How to Flame an Orange Twist »
Five Essential Cocktail Books »