Should bartenders use hand-carved ice?

10th September, 2018 by admin

No: Samuel Jeavons, group head bartender, London Cocktail Club, UK

Samuel-London-Cocktail-ClubObviously the main goal of using ice in cocktails is to get your drink cold and to consistently get it to the same temperature with the same level of dilution. I can’t argue with some of the benefits of using slowly frozen ice that has been hand carved because it will fit the glass better and will give you less dilution. But that technique doesn’t always work for every bar.

For us at London Cocktail Club, as a high-volume bar with nine sites, using slowly frozen, hand­-carved ice isn’t that feasible. With our bartenders at different levels, and some who we’re teaching as they go along, it could lead to all sorts of unusable ice – and even injuries. Because of that, across all our bars we tend to favour ice moulds and good quality ice machines that we keep well maintained so we can have really solid ice that, theoretically, will not melt as quickly as bad ice.

We also don’t hand carve our ice because when you start to tie in prep times, and the cost of those prep times, we would be talking about one person at each venue spending an hour-­and-a­-half cutting ice every night, and this all adds up.

Across all our London Cocktail Club bars last year, we sold something like 140,000 Old Fashioneds. So when you take that into consideration, the amount of ice cutting, the training and the work that would go into that means it just wouldn’t be feasible.

For us, using high quality ice machines is the best way to provide consistency in a high-volume bar like ours. When you look at it, the most important thing overall is providing the best consistency you can from the ability of your bartenders. You can only ever be as strong as your weakest link, so you have to make sure that everything you do is within your bartenders’ reach while you teach them the next steps.

If you’re using the best machines for your ice – we only use Hoshizaki ice machines at London Cocktail Club – and if you’re keeping them well maintained to produce good quality ice to shake with, you’re going to be getting the same level of dilution each time. This is what gives you consistency for all your drinks.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our newsletter