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How To Make Crushed Ice

Crushed it. Now you're a professional.

By Bevvy

Among the numerous obscure and inscrutable bartending techniques out there, one of the few you might actually use on a regular basis is crushing your own ice. Whether you’re making a Mint Julep, a fancy Frozen Margarita or an Absinthe Frappé, you’re going to need a whole bunch of the stuff, and making it by hand is a surprisingly fun way to bring old-school charm to your cocktails.

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1 Using the Lewis Bag

While you can use a blender in a pinch, the secret to really great crushed ice is a tool called a Lewis bag.

Essentially, a Lewis bag is just a canvas pouch. You place the ice inside, roll up the end and whack the bejeezus out of it with a wooden mallet. What makes it useful though is the canvas material, which absorbs excess water from the surface of the ice and keeps it from sticking together in clumps. This gives you a nice, snow-like crushed ice that’s easier to work with and won’t melt nearly as quickly.

You can get a Lewis bag online for about $15, usually with a mallet included if you don’t have one. In a pinch, a clean canvas cloth or towel will work, but you want to make sure it isn’t going to leave any lint on the ice.


2 Choosing Your Ice

The best crushed ice comes from really cold, really dry ice cubes. Don’t take them out of the freezer until just before you’re ready to use them, and once you do, place them in the Lewis bag immediately.

It doesn’t really matter what size or shape of ice cubes you use, within reason. What’s important is that they all be roughly the same, so you get even crushing throughout.

Also, note that you’re going to need more ice than you think, so use at least half as many cubes as you’d need to fill up your glass.

3 Crushing the Ice

Once you’ve got your ice in the Lewis bag, roll up the open end and hold it shut to keep everything in place. Then, place the bag on a hard surface that can take some punishment, grab the mallet with your free hand and go to town!

For most cocktails, you don’t want to crush the ice too finely, as it’ll melt much faster. It’ll take some practice to learn what you like, but you can always open the bag and check partway through. In general, the largest chunks should be no larger than ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.

4 Using Crushed Ice

Now you’re ready to whip up a whole mess of classic and modern cocktails, from cobblers to juleps!

Most crushed ice recipes, like the Mint Julep, usually involve a multi-step process: fill the glass most of the way with ice, add the liquid ingredients, then top off with some more ice. The final product should have a mound of ice sticking out the top of the glass like a snow cone, giving it a refreshing, summery look.

 • For more crushed ice cocktail recipes, visit

About Bevvy

Bevvy is a community-focused platform that helps people discover incredible new cocktail recipes, keep up with the ever-changing world of craft spirits, and learn what to drink, what to buy, and how to make it.