On the surface, making a drink doesn’t seem all that complicated. But there are so many details you typically don’t realize until you stand behind a bar for several thousand hours. Fortunately, Senior Staff Writer Bryan Kim has done that - and he’s here to answer all your cocktail-related questions.
Like these, about ice and chilling cocktails:
Hello. Should a bottle of Cointreau be stored in the refrigerator or inside the liquor cabinet?
“Hello. No need to keep your Cointreau in the fridge. Just leave it out at room temperature. And if you don’t wind up finishing the bottle, donate the rest to your grandchildren. It’ll probably last that long.”
Can keeping my liquor in the freezer do the same thing as shaking drinks over ice? (I never have ice around.)
“Shaking accomplishes two things: chilling and dilution. Freezing, on the other hand, only chills your drink - and without any dilution, your cocktails are going to taste a little too strong. But if you really hate ice, add an ounce of super-cold water to whatever cocktail you make with your freezer alcohol. That’ll help dilute it.”
How can you make clear ice at home? I’ve read random stuff online, but I’ve never had success compared to what I see at bars.
“This is a great question - and the answer might be a little more complex than you expect. The trick to clear ice is freezing one big block slowly in your freezer. If you have a small cooler (something you’d carry a sandwich and a few beers in, for example), that’s ideal, because it’ll insulate your water and make it freeze slower. But I’ve also made clear ice very successfully in a large Tupperware container. So find the biggest rectangular plastic container your freezer can hold (consider wrapping a towel around it to insulate it), leave the top open, then just play the waiting game.
If you want to get really fancy, boil your water first. That might sound strange, but the reason your ice is cloudy is because there’s air trapped in there (which will become concentrated in one section of your large block of ice during the gradual freezing process). And if you boil the water, that dissolved air should dissipate (because the solubility of air in water decreases as the temperature increases).
Anyway, after you freeze your big block, you then have to chop it up. We’re going to need a whole other session for that part.”
Got a cocktail-related question for Bryan? Submit it here.