The quest to make a perfectly balanced cocktail often comes down to one thing: ice.

And today, mixologists are carefully attending to the look, clarity and taste of the frozen stuff in drinks more than ever before.

“Ice is indispensable in a cocktail,” says Duane Sylvester, head bartender at Bourbon Steak restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. “It’s as important an ingredient as the spirit, the chaser or the person building it.”

Impurities can cause cloudiness and a minerally taste in your cocktail.  And size does matter.  Large blocks of ice are generally believed to be better for drinks because larger ice melts more slowly, which doesn’t dilute the drink. Ice melt is often one of the reasons that your homemade drinks do not taste as fresh as bar drinks.

“Ice is very much important to the cocktail; how it can be built, how much space it takes up in a glass, the way it’s going to keep your cocktail cold, or its flavor,” Sylvester says.

Ice balls are the latest craze that give a drink fantastic presentation and adds a new dimension.  With different shapes and sizes, combined with hints of flavor or exotic smells, designer ice has become a major actor—even star-- of a killer drink.

Check out the video above as Sylvester whips up some new cocktails on Bourbon Steak’s spring menu -- or try making them at home.

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