Although they’re called “cubes,” ice cubes can take on many different shapes depending on the type of ice tray or ice maker you use. Many ice makers buck tradition by offering a slew of other shape options, such as nuggets, crescents and spheres. Meanwhile, some makers produce crushed or shaved ice, which can benefit certain beverages.
Not only do ice cubes keep your drinks cool, but they also add some extra flair and can be the perfect finishing touch to any drink. Although you may not have put that much thought into what type of ice cubes you’re serving to your guests, when you purchase an ice maker, the type of glassware you have is a major consideration.
Follow this guide to find out which ice shapes your prefer.
The standard and most popular ice shape is, of course, the cube. This classic shape is offered by most ice maker brands, including Marvel and U-Line. The top-of-the-line Scotsman also features the option of small cubes that can chill your beverages more quickly than larger cubes. Cubed ice also melts more slowly than other types of ice, which means your drink will be less likely to become diluted. If you’re more traditional and enjoy sipping on your drinks, then you can’t go wrong with cube-shaped ice.
More bars are moving from cubed ice to spherical ice – and with good reason. Water must account for 20 to 25 percent of a cocktail – any more can seriously dilute the drink, ruining the taste and reducing the alcohol content. Because ice is the primary water source for a cocktail, the type of ice used is significant. Sphere-shaped ice has the smallest surface area of any shape relative to its mass, so they melt less slowly than both crushed and small-cubed ice, making them the ice shape of choice for bartenders. Fortunately, there are many ice makers on the market that produce sphere-shaped ice, including Tovolo. Many brands also sell ice tray molds with spherical shapes, some of which are designed especially for use in cocktails. When it comes to chilling a cocktail, remember that for strong drinks, the larger the ice sphere, the better.
Some ice-maker brands, such as U-Line, produce crescent-shaped ice. U-Line’s crescent ice maker model can create up to 25 pounds of ice each day with less than three gallons of water. Marvel also has a crescent ice maker with a daily ice production of 15 pounds that comes in both a free-standing and undercounter unit. Crescent-shaped ice works best for soft drinks.
Because of its shape, these ice pieces can pack together than full or half cubes, which means they displace more liquid, ensuring that you get the most out of your drink.
Ice nuggets are small pellets that are soft and chewable. Because of its texture, this ice shape has become more popular among consumers. Aside from its easy-to-swallow quality, nugget ice displaces more liquid than cube-shaped ice and has fast-acting cooling abilities. It also blends easily in drinks and retains their color and flavor, ensuring a full, rich taste. Nugget ice is great for blended cocktails and smoothies. Many health care facilities also use nugget ice because it’s easier for their patients to chew and digest.
Many appliances make dimples in their ice cubes, produced dimpled ice. This kind of ice provides more surface area than square-shaped ice, striking the perfect balance between cooling and melting. Dimpled ice is ideal for any drink, and can also be easily chewed.
When our customers call to inquire about icemakers, we review where in the home the icemaker will be, how much ice capacity they need and the shape of their glassware. We learned to ask about glassware after a customer called to let us know how much they appreciated having ice for entertaining but ended up replacing their glassware because of the shape of the ice. It’s an odd but important aspect to icemaker ownership.
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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on September 19, 2018. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.