8 Different Kinds of Ice for Drinks

Try each of these different ice shapes and sizes for a different drinking experience.

You’ve probably noticed that there are different types of ice, but maybe you’ve never stopped to consider how they affect a drink.

Close up Of Ice Cubes In Freezer Tray

Ice is ice–right? You grab a few cubes from your ice maker when you want a cold drink. There’s not much to know about it. Or is there? 

I’m here to tell you that something as seemingly simple as ice can make a difference. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of the most common types of ice – and choosing accordingly – can take a mediocre drink from good to great.

You should also know what kinds of ice you should never drop in your glass. 

Types of Ice

If the world of ice is uncharted territory for you, not to fear. Today, I’m going to talk about the 8 types of ice and what they’re best for. Keep reading to learn more!  

Crescent Ice

It’s easy to see how crescent ice got its name: it has a distinct half-moon shape.

It looks fantastic, and because it has a unique design, it floats freely through the glass. Crescent ice has a solid build, which helps it cool the beverage quite effectively. 

Another thing I find interesting about crescent ice is that it was designed to reduce splashing. It’s got a slow melt rate that’s perfect for many applications.

It works well in soft drinks, mixed drinks, and ice bagging and dispensing. Plenty of restaurants use it too, and you can usually find it at grocery stores.  

Full Cube

Next, we have the full cube, which is the most common type of ice.

As its name suggests, the full cube is a piece of ice with a square shape. It’s what comes out of your freezer if you have an ice maker. Don’t get it confused with the big cube, which we’ll go over below. 

What you should know is that there is nothing super special about full cubes. They’ve got a solid build and serve their purpose without much pizzazz.

You probably use them every day and for good reason: they work for a lot of different things. If you’re not worried about aesthetics, you can put them in any drink. 

Nugget Ice

Nugget is also called chewable ice, and anyone who’s had it knows why.

The cylindrical, bite-sized shape of nugget ice is super easy to chew, which makes it many people’s favorite ice – myself included.

Sometimes it has a hole in the middle, which helps nugget ice absorb the flavor of the drink it’s placed in. Its characteristics make it many bartenders’ ice of choice in frozen or blended drinks.

It also seems to enhance the flavor of soft drinks – not to mention, chewing on the soda – infused ice at the end is a delicious way to cool off on a hot day. 

Want to use nugget ice at home? Just remember that it has a relatively quick melt rate.  

Flake or Shaved Ice

Flaked ice or shaved ice is soft and looks a lot like snow. It has a high surface area, so it cools things quickly.

On the flip side, it also melts quickly, so it’s not the type of ice you would use in a drink. 

Instead, it’s a favorite at markets and restaurants. These places take advantage of flaked ice’s high surface area to display or present foods.

You’ve probably seen flaked ice a thousand times underneath a bed of fish or seafood. It’s also an excellent way to keep food cold during transport and doesn’t damage delicate foods like produce.  

Here’s a non-food-related fun fact for you: if you need to put ice on an injury, opt for flaked ice. Due to its design, it’s malleable and will adapt to any body part you put it on. 

Crushed Ice

If your fridge has an ice maker, chances are crushed ice is one of the two types it makes (cubed is the other). Crushed ice is pretty similar to shaved ice, thanks to its snowy appearance. 

However, unlike shaved ice, crushed ice works well for drinks. You’ll find it a lot in blended drinks, where it’s favored over other ice types because it won’t get stuck in the blender’s blade.

I, for one, love crushed ice in a slushy margarita, where its fluffy texture adds to the overall experience. It’s also perfect for things like Slurpees. 

What to do if your fridge doesn’t have a crushed ice feature? Grab a clean towel, wrap the ice, and gently break it using a mallet.  

Ice Sphere

Ice spheres are also known as round ice. These perfect, sphere-shaped cubes are not one of the most common types of ice, but boy do they make a statement.

If you’ve ever been served a drink with round ice, you’re likely to remember the impactful visual effect created.   

Bartenders like them because they are the perfect marriage of form and function: they look fantastic without diluting the drink too much.

I’ve seen ice spheres in cocktails, but they also work well in straight spirits. Basically, they’re perfect in any high-end drink whose flavors you want to shine through. 

Whatever you use them for, they fill a large part of the glass and generally melt slowly. You’re sure to wow your guests with this one.  

Big Cubes

Another way to impress people at your next gathering is by bringing out the big cubes.

Trust me: the big cube is a fail-safe if you want to go the extra mile. It’s larger than a full-size cube, often measuring two-by-two inches, and it has a very slow melt rate.

The big cube is also highly aesthetically pleasing, making it a mainstay in the restaurant industry. 

I’ve seen big cubes in lots of different settings. They’re right at home at a fancy dinner party, and you’re likely to run across big cubes in an upscale restaurant or bar.

People love them in whiskey on the rocks, where the cube takes up a large portion of the glass. You get a cool drink within no dilution, and there’s no better way to enjoy whiskey–am I right?  

Types of Ice

  1. Crescent Ice
  2. Full Cube
  3. Nugget Ice
  4. Flake / Shaved Ice
  5. Half Cube Ice Cubes
  6. Crushed Ice
  7. Ice Sphere
  8. Big Cubes

Final Thoughts

Freezer ice has its place, and it gets the job done in most situations. But hopefully, I showed you in this article that there is a whole ice world waiting to be discovered. Sometimes branching out can take things to the next level. 

So, I challenge you to think outside the box at your next gathering and try something new. Something as simple as changing the type of ice can impress people–not to mention, it takes little effort. 

What’s your favorite ice type? Let me know in the comments below. 

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin is an editor and food writer who loves traveling and trying new foods and fun cocktails. Erin has been writing and editing professionally for 5 years since graduating from Temple University, and has been on the Restaurant Clicks team for 3 years. She has a long background working in the restaurant industry, and is an avid home chef and baker. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.