It's true, I do, and I'll share it with you.
You may notice one ingredient used in just about every tiki drink we've got here on the recipe page, other than glassware of course, which is generally recommended. I'm talking about Crushed Ice. This is the not so secret secret that can make or break your cocktails, and turn heavy, cloying booze brews into mystical magical yet potent potions.
Why crushed ice in tiki drinks? Well, to start with, your typical tiki drink is a boastful blend of syrups, strong booze, sharp citrus, and flavor-potent spice and bitters. Try drinking a Zombie straight out of the tin, slightly lukewarm. Not altogether the world's most pleasant experience. Toss in some regular cubed ice, and you'll get a darn good drink, but still, something doesn't quite let it tie together. Change that to crushed ice, and suddenly the sunny shores of paradise await at every sip. Flavors of the ingredients combine into a full, solid flavorful roller coaster of a cocktail. This is the difference that good crushed ice makes.
But what makes using crushed ice so different? Two factors, cooling, and dilution. The two go hand in hand though, so let's discuss them as such. Crushed ice has far more of something than cubed ice, and that something is surface area. More liquid can cross the surface of the ice, leading to more efficient cooling of the often lukewarm spirits and syrups. A cooler drink mellows out the booziness of the spirit and allows greater enjoyment of the spectrum of flavors, particularly is it warms on your palate. Much better than a punch in the face of boiling booze, which I don't recommend, but is a learning experience worth having once. ONCE.
With all of that surface area, the liquid melts a little more of the ice too, leading to greater dilution. "But, isn't dilution a bad thing" you may ask, and rightfully so. Who wants a watered down drink? Well, watered down in the right way, a drink can go from disgusting to dazzling. Take for example the 151 swizzle, it is an overly potent drink taken by itself, harsh on the palate and the senses in general. But given time, just two minutes or so to sit after being served takes it from tough to tender, a gentle joy of flavor, instead of what it starts off as, 151 proof rum, lime, and sugar, neat. *cough*
Are you a crushed ice believer yet? Got a great way to get crushed ice? Comment below!