Cider and ice? Says who?
Since when has cider-on-the-rocks been the de facto serving method? What started as a monstrous marketing gimmick now seems completely out of hand. The nadir of this ludicrous situation is a poorly-trained server who believes every cider (sometimes even bottled beer, too) aspires to be ruined in a glassful of ice. A glass FULL of ice is often no exaggeration.
I was once given a glassful of ice with a bottle of British Brown Ale, at which I sought an audience with the manager to advise that servers ought to be trained properly or admonished. This is a good example of why a marketing gimmick has been taken to its extreme and become accepted as usual practice.
Nobody should deny consumers the choice to modify the flavour profile of their drinks with the addition of ice — if they wish to do so. However, consumers are being denied the opportunity to savour their drinks in the most appropriate, personal manner by an ill-conceived notion that it’s obligatory to serve cider with ice. Thrusting ice upon consumers who wish to drink their cider in the original, authentic and manufacture-intended way is ignorance, and ignorance is no excuse.
There appears no legitimate reason to add ice to a cider (or beer!) other than to water it down or mask an underlying awful flavour. Let’s be clear: ice does not improve aroma, taste or mouthfeel. The numbing effect of ice, in fact, acts in quite the opposite way and impairs and suppresses any flavour that does exist.
Whisky is often considered the pinnacle of quality, and yet it’s rarely appropriate (if ever) to drink it with ice. It would presumably be foolhardy and laughable to order a “whisky on the rocks” in a reputable bar, so why does the same reputable bar insist upon diluting its cider with excessive ice, especially when ice is not requested?
Ice with cider or most other alcoholic drink is nonsense if the drink is to be enjoyed in the manner for which it was intended. It’s questionable why a drinks manufacturer would produce a premium-priced product that needs to be watered-down to improve the flavour.
However, there is a caveat, insomuch as on a hot, sweltering day a cool, refreshing cider (albeit watered-down) over ice may be the perfect tonic. That is fine — I am even known to do this myself…occasionally. What is important is that it’s personal choice; a personal choice to forego the manufacturer’s intended flavour for a cold drink. Serving cider over ice is not the default way, and unless a consumer explicitly requests ice, cider should always be served in a neutral manner.
It is wrongly assumed cider-drinkers in certain countries only consume cider with ice, but that assumption is little more than marketing nonsense that has become folklore. Self-perpetuating marketing nonsense. Giants of industrial cider manufacturing, such as Bulmers Irish Cider (a.k.a Magners), HP Bulmers and Strongbow, have all heavily utilised ice in their marketing campaigns to give their ciders an appealing, heavenly sheen. Unfortunately, these marketing campaigns have skewed mainstream convention towards atypical serving habits.
Cider, like beer, has an optimal temperature at which it should be served to release the best flavours and provide the consumer with a great drinking experience. Neither cider nor beer should be served ice-cold, although beers are usually served colder than cider. Despite the fact that current tastes prefer chilled drinks, a good quality cider should be at its best when served close to room temperature. However, most cider-lovers and aficionados prefer it a little cooler nowadays, although flavour is still the most important factor to all; the addition of ice is not only sacrilege, but also serves little purpose than to rapidly debase the flavour.
Bar owners and servers ought to cease the practice of mandatory ice with cider, which equates to a worsening of flavour for all consumers. Ice is a personal choice, not an obligatory requirement.