The Art of Making the Perfect Cocktail

Ice is a bar ingredient that many people often overlook. In simple terms, it’s frozen water. It is frozen water that is shaken or stirred with spirits to chill or dilute a cocktail. Take a look at the ice that you have in your freezer – it is cloudy because of the natural impurities and gases in the frozen water. Now imagine ice that you can see through.

There are two things that I like to observe when I am at a bar – if my bartender automatically pours me water, and the quality of the ice that they use for their cocktails. Those two things say quite a lot about a bar’s standards.

First, it says a lot about for bartender who cares enough about the basics – they knows that at some point, the guest will need water during their time at the bar and that they have already has taken care of that for them. That is pre-emptive service at its finest.

Second, the type of ice that is used. Ice, clear and devoid of impurities, one that you can see through, is the best kind. Many bars use regular ice which has a lot of impurities, melts faster and doesn’t look as aesthetically beautiful as clear ice. As something used to chill liquor, ice melts very quickly and one that has many impurities will dilute the liquor with water. If you’re enjoying a sipping cocktail with regular ice, chances are 15-20 minutes later, half of your cocktail is water. But if you are sipping it with clear, perfect ice, then you will enjoy your cocktail’s nuances longer. I love having an Old Fashioned or a Negroni on the rock (not rocks) with what I call, an “‘iceberg” – fancy!

We recently overhauled our bar program at The Fearrington House Restaurant, highlighting oft overlooked classic cocktails like Vieux Carré and Sazeracs, as well as twists like Martinez and Boulevardiers. My two favorite cocktails are also on the menu now – The Penicillin and Jungle Bird, one that highlights the pungency of ginger and honey, and the other a long forgotten tiki cocktail that originated in Malaysia. It tastes like coffee and pancakes in the morning — it is hard to have only one of these!

Keep a look out for our posts showcasing these new cocktails in the coming weeks. They are now available at The Fearrington House Bar.

– Paula, Beverage & Service Director

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