Ice Ice Baby!
Nothing says summer like the sound of ice cubes clinking in a long, frosty glass. But back in colonial days, ice was a rare treat.
The first ice ever seen in Sydney came by sailing ship in 1837, all the way from frozen lakes near Boston, USA. At last, people could beat Australia’s summer heat with iced sherry cobblers, brandy smashes, mint juleps and iced punch. For almost two decades, all ice was imported, and stored by the well-to-do in heavily insulated ice houses. Then, in 1851, Geelong newspaperman James Harrison invented the world’s first practical ice-making machine. He patented the process in 1855 and, this being Australia, promptly sold the first commercial model to a brewery.
Shaken or Stirred?
James Bond got it wrong. Cocktails like Martinis, whose sole components are liquor, should be stirred in a tumbler of ice before being strained into a glass. Shake the ones with extra ingredients like fruit juice, syrups, dairy or eggs.
On the Rocks
Once upon a time this meant, literally, rocks. The legend goes that the 15th century Scots used to cool their whisky with stones taken from ice-cold highland rivers. Ice in Scotch, the Scots say, is an American perversion.
For the perfect drink, choose the right kind of ice. Extra-large cubes are best for Negronis or straight drinks like whisky or vodka, because they melt more slowly and (like the Scottish rocks) won’t dilute the spirits. Standard cubes are fine for mixed drinks while some cocktails, like mint juleps and those old-fashioned cobblers need crushed ice. To crush your own, wrap cubes in a tea towel and bash them with a mallet. (Great therapy if you’re feeling tense.)
Keep the Ice Nice
Ice melts in your drink, right? So ice cubes that have been sitting for weeks in your freezer absorbing frozen pizza odours are not a good idea. Refresh them every couple of weeks, or store them in a zip-lock plastic bag. If you wouldn’t drink your tap water, don’t use it to make ice. And taste bought ice before you add it to your drinks.