Ice in drinks: time and dilution | Giovanni Ceccarelli

Ice in drinks: time and dilution

ice ghiaccio nei cocktail giovanni ceccarelli cocktail engineering

On 20/04/2016 I published on this blog an article entitled ‘How much ice in drinks?‘. In that post I  tried to explain the ice chilling mechanism and how much of it you should use. The variables I took into consideration were temperature and dilution.

In this article I will be talking about time, temperature and dilution. Furthermore, I shall demonstrate that putting more ice in a drink dilutes it faster, contrary to what many bartenders believe.

Let’s proceed step by step.

In the previous article I stated that two identical drinks, poured inside two glasses with insulating walls but over a different amount of ice, chilled until they reach the same temperature, they will have the same dilution. This happens because the ice does not chill because it’s cold, but because it melts and all the heat absorbed to melt comes from the drink. Nothing comes from outside the glass. In that particular situation the time is not relevant.


Let’s now demonstrate what I stated at the beginning: when taking into consideration the same length of time the drink poured over more ice will be more diluted (but colder) than the one poured over less ice.

The experiment I carried out, which was in fact rather rudimentary, but close to everyday work, is as follows:

– I took two glasses and poured the same amount (by weight) of liquid (I used a mixture of vodka and water) into both. Afterwards, I added different amounts of ice in the two glasses: one full and one half full.

ice2 8 The quantity of vodka-water mix I poured into the glasses
ice2 11 The quantity of ice definable as ‘glass with little ice’
ice2 12 The quantity of ice definable as ‘glass full of ice’

– I left both drinks in contact with the ice for 60 seconds, then filtered into a new glass and weighed the amount of final liquid.

ice2 9 ice2 10
The ice doesn’t touch all the liquid, rather ”it floats”.
The glass isn’t full.
The ice touches all the liquid. The glass is full.
ice2 5 ice2 6
After 60 seconds the dilution in case 1 (little ice) is roughly 30gr. Final temperature 10°C. After 60 seconds the dilution in case 2 (more ice) is roughly 40gr. Final temperature 7.8 °C.

As can be seen in the photos, the drink that had more ice was more diluted than the one with less ice.

The reason for this is quite simple: more ice has a higher thermal exchange surface and therefore cools faster. However, a greater cooling effect is possible only with greater dilution: the drink that has more ice will be cooler but also more diluted (within the same amount of time). In different word we can say that a lot of ice cools faster than a small amount of ice.

If a customer tells you he wants little ice because he doesn’t want a very cold or very diluted drink, he’s right.

A clarification for those of you who are meticulous: the greater dilution results from the melting and not just the part of water inevitably present in the cube (only in the case of crushed ice does this become quite evident). This is demonstrated by the different final temperature of the cocktail.

You may wish to read the third article on this topic ‘Ice in drinks: sphere, chunk or cubes?’, by clicking here.

Happy mixing,

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