Although mixing cocktails may just seem to entail combining alcohol and serving it in a glass, nothing could be further from the truth. Ice can make or break a proper drink, and mixologists around the world are now becoming more interested in ice shapes and quality.
The Importance of Ice:
Ice plays an important role in a great cocktail, but is one of the most overlooked ingredient. First and foremost, ice cools down the drink during the mixing process. This process is important because when the temperature of a cocktail is lowered, the taste receptors in the tongue are inhibited. Thus, the drink becomes more palatable and less “alcoholic" tasting. In fact, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article, Christian Frizzell, co-owner of Redwood Bar and Grill in Los Angeles, states, “So long it's all been about mixology or infusion of liquor for flavor. But a perfect pour is not just about adding a bunch of stuff. It's got to be the perfect temperature. " Furthermore, ice is such an important subject to bartenders that every year during the Tales of the Cocktail mixologist's convention, there is a seminar on “The Importance of Ice" which discusses this very subject.
Of course, some bartenders take the issue of ice to the extreme. Many bartenders working in upscale bars in metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago may use bottled or triple distilled artisan water such as Fiji to make their ice, while others make ice in large blocks and hand crack it with a hammer and ice saw. This results in cubes that are larger than crushed ice and perfect for drinks on the rocks.
NewAir AI-100S Portable Ice Maker:
However, if you're just a casual home bartender, you may not want to resort to hacking away at a huge block of ice with a pick just yet. To ensure great tasting ice (and sufficient amounts of it) at all times, a portable ice maker will do just fine. As such, with summer already here, our product team thought it would be the perfect time to test out some of the finest portable ice makers on the market today. Some of the leading brands we found were Franklin Chef and Sunpentown, but NewAir, a company better known for its line of cooling and heating products, also has a line of excellent home ice makers that are quite affordable.
Whether you use cubed ice, ice nuggets, chopped, or crushed ice, a portable home ice maker such as the NewAir AI-100S is a great choice for the seasoned mixologist or home bartender. Perfect for those who entertain often, this portable icemaker combines style and convenience in one unit. With the ability to produce up to 28 pounds of ice in a 24-hour period, this icemaker ensures that you have a steady ice supply when entertaining large groups of people. For this week, we were fortunate enough to be able to test the NewAir AI-100S compact portable ice maker, and here were our findings:
First Impressions of the AI-100S:
When we received the unit, we were amazed at how compact it was. It weighed approximately 34 pounds and featured a sleek silver case that complemented our test kitchen. Furthermore, we appreciated the fact that unlike larger industrial-sized ice makers, the NewAir AI-100S fit nicely on our countertop next to our toaster. The AI-100S connected to a standard household power outlet and best of all, permanent installation was not required. Instead, the unit could be used with either tap or bottled water. In fact, we used Fiji artisan water (just like many top bartenders) in the AI-100S for our Glen Livet on the rocks, and we could definitely taste the difference.
In terms of ice production, we were impressed that ice was made within 15 minutes of turning the machine on, and we were able to choose from three ice sizes - small, medium, or large, with nine pieces of ice produced per cycle. Also, NewAir claimed this unit could make up to 28 pounds of ice per day, and we did find this to be true. Maintenance was also a breeze: the side mounted drain allowed us to empty the unit directly into the sink, and all we had to do was clean the inside tank with mild soap and water after we were done.
Overall, we really enjoyed using the NewAir AI-100S. At less than $200, it's definitely more affordable than some of big-name models out there, but offers the same great features and then some.
More Information on the NewAir AI-100S Ice Maker:
Jeanie Wong is a marketing writer and product specialist with extensive knowledge of ice makers and other home appliances.