David and Lesley Solmonson, authors of The 12 Bottle Bar, explain why you shouldn't overlook the ice in your cocktail glass.

[Ed. note: More from the Solmonsons on genever, the 12-bottle bar and how to be a responsible host.]

David and Leslie Solmonson

David and Lesley Solmonson (Photo: Andy Kruse)

David Solmonson: Ice is as important as an ingredient to your cocktail as heat is to a sauté.

Let's just take an average sour as a good example, or a martini even. If you start with 3 ounces of ingredients, you're going to want to end up with a 4-ounce drink. That means that the water from dilution from that ice via shaking or stirring is 25 percent of that drink. That's a substantial ingredient in anything.

It's very important how you apply ice. The bigger the ice, the slower the dilution. The finer the ice, the quicker it will dilute and the quicker it will chill because of that dilution process. In something like a tiki drink or a swizzle, you want that chill. In a mint julep, you want that immediate chill, you want to get that drink ice cold.

You want to use the best quality ice you can get.

Lesley Solmonson: Something worth noting is that if you are going to make your own ice and you do not have a cover on the ice tray, make sure you cover it with plastic. Even the cleanest freezer can leach flavors, and leached flavor into an ice cube is leached flavor into a drink.

DS: Break out those bundt pans, they make beautiful ice molds. Put edible flowers and herbs in there and put it in your punch bowl.

LS: You can do that in your cubes too.

Jennifer Russell

Jennifer Russell is a founding producer at The Splendid Table. Before coming to radio, she made historical and arts and cultural programming for public television. She claims to have come out of the womb a food lover -- when other girls played house, she played restaurateur. Follow her comings and goings on Twitter: @jenejentweets.