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Recipe: Nice Ice | Monteiths Edinburgh

Scottish Food Recipes & Tasting Notes

We’re a passionate bunch at Monteiths with a real flavour for freshly prepared, locally sourced Scottish food alongside great cocktails. Our team have curated a selection of great food & drink Scottish recipes for you to try at home. Hopefully these give you a taste of what we’re all about.

Nice Ice

A lot of amateur cocktail enthusiasts ask us what the single most important element in their drink is and they always get a shock when we give them the answer – ICE. Indeed, cocktails as we know them wouldn’t exist as we know them today without the humble ice cube.

As with so many things in life great Scots were at the forefront of technology and the first artificial refrigeration system was created by William Cullen at Glasgow University in 1748. Despite his invention the modern day fridge-freezer didn’t catch on for some time and until the early 1900’s bars and restaurants had their ice delivered in large blocks from ‘ice houses’ where natural ice from frozen lochs was stored in cool conditions underground.

These large chunks of ice would then be cut by hand by bartenders before being added to drinks. This is a long way from the bags of ice cubes you’ll find in supermarkets today but in the best bars across the world the use of carved or ‘craft’ ice is more and more common.

At Monteiths we make our own ice using a tried and tested method that gives us crystal clear, hard ice with no impurities. While there is great debate in the cocktail world about how to create the perfect ice the technique we use is insulation. Tap water is placed inside a cool box and left in our chest freezer with the lid off. Ice forms in layers and the air and other minerals that cause affect clarity freeze the slowest and are left at the bottom where we caneasily saw them off and discard them.

Our ice is frozen for five days before we thaw it a little and cut it to whatever shape we require. Why not just use ice cubes I hear you ask? This seems like a lot of trouble to chill a drink. Well, the larger pieces of ice that we use dilute slower as a result of their size and surface area and as a result drinks are not diluted and retain their flavor longer. Our hand carved ice also looks really great and although it’s a time consuming process creating and carving the ice we feel it adds a lot to our drinks.

Next time you’re in the bar ask for a look at our block of ice. Chances are you’ll see us at work on it using our Japanese ice picks, a mallet, a saw and a meat cleaver…

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