Dilution in cocktails: 3 kinds of water for success

Dilution in cocktails primarily comes from our good friend ice and is absolutely key to mixing well balanced drinks.

However, we sometimes require more dilution that the ice we are using readily affords us. In these instances, we encourage you to use water, where it suffices.

Thankfully, water is (currently) highly accessible, so wherever we are we should be able to furnish ourselves with the following incarnations of water:

  • Chilled water
  • Soda water
  • Boiling water

You should seek to have each of these at hand as your cocktail making session requires. As required, you will use the water to dilute drinks to an optimal level, making them easier to consume and creating the perfect balance of taste.

In this post, we’ll explain the basics of dilution and how it’s essential to making great cocktails.

water dilution in cocktails using chilled water

Chilled water in Cocktails

When starting a drinks mixing session, fill a mixing glass/jar with ice and halfway with water.

This will do 2 things:

  • Firstly, the mixing vessel will cool well, so any stirred drinks you mix will benefit from a well-cooled bed.
  • Secondly, you will have ice cool water on hand.

This icy water can be added wherever a smidgen more dilution, but no temperature increase is required. 

Sometimes, ice can be excessively dry (eg if stored too cold). Pouring a small amount of very cold water over very dry ice can temper it slightly before the actual ingredients are added, preventing the apparent absorption of liquid into the dry ice.

Soda water

For soda, choose bottles between 8 and 14 oz in volume. 

If a bottle is not finished shortly after being opened, a limpness is noticeable in the finished drink.

Whenever you see the words “topped with soda,” adopt an antipodean philosophy and invert.

Pouring bubbles onto a drink with a texture different from water will almost guarantee overflowing mess.

Instead, pour the majority of soda into the glass beforehand and then add the other ingredients on top of the soda. Much more controlled. If you need to add a tiny splash of soda at the end to bring the liquid to the required level in the glass, this is much easier than needing to add eg 3floz.

Some dilution in cocktails is achieved by using boiling water

Boiling water; Don’t forget the hot drinks

Much of modern cocktail culture is an American creation and cherishes the idea of cool refreshment . But many of the early mixed drinks (from days before ‘cocktail’ existed as a word) were forms of sustenance and often served warm.

Flips, punches, mulls and toddies have all been enjoyed warm through the ages and can totally hit the spot during the coldest times.

A steamer attachment on a coffee machine is a great way to heat and texturise a drink.

Mastering water dilution in cocktails

Water is a fundamental part of making great cocktails and though often overlooked, can make a huge difference in the quality of the drinks you make.

Utilizing the three forms kinds of water detailed here; chilled, soda and boiling, you can fine-tune the dilution of your drinks for a perfectly balanced experience. Experiment with water dilution to create perfectly balanced, gorgeous drinks for every occasion.

Marrying up your water selection with a variety of ice and your selection of bottles, your home cocktail bar should be well equipped to make a vast array of drinks.