If you ever have unexpected company and want to serve canned or bottled drinks — sodas, beer and wine — do you know a great way to chill beverages quickly?
While you can always use ice in sodas and juices, not everyone likes their drinks to get watery — not to mention that beer isn’t so great with ice. (And if you’ve ever had a can of soda explode in the freezer, you know why sticking it in there is not such a good idea.)
How can you quickly cool beverages?
If you need icy cold drinks ASAP, here’s how you can cool a soda in just two minutes — and you don’t need any fancy equipment.
To get a quick chill without the watery extras, think back to those old-fashioned hand-cranked ice cream makers. They use a combination of ice, cold water and a bit of salt. (Plain old cheap table salt will work fine — you don’t need rock salt.)
Why? Salted water has a lower freezing point than regular water, so it helps keep the water frigid without actually freezing. You need only about a tablespoon of salt for every quart of icy water.
Put the still-unopened beverages in the ice bath and rotate them gently to allow the warm fluid within to reach the cool walls of the bottle, can, juice box or juice bag. You will only need a few minutes to chill each container, but the more completely you can cover the container, the faster it will cool.
The possible downsides of cooling a drink fast
There are a few things to watch for when using this process. One, you will end up with salt water on the cans or bottles, which doesn’t taste so great.
You can avoid this by bagging the beverage (but this adds another layer of insulation to the liquid), or simply make sure that you rinse off the drink container before you pour the beverage into a glass.
It’s also worth noting that an extra chill (slightly below normal freezing point) may cause carbonated beverages — including beer — to fizz a lot, so be aware of that when opening those cans and bottles.
Side note: Diet sodas with aspartame will lose flavor and sweetness when they’re stored above room temperature, and that missing oomph won’t come back even when you cool it down.
MORE: What’s the more popular term: soda or pop?
What about wine?
This trick will work for wine, but because the bottle tends to be thicker, and there’s also more liquid within that larger bottle, wine will need a little more time than a can or soda bottle.
Another potential issue especially for wine connoisseurs: If a bottle’s label is made of paper, it might get soggy, wrinkly, and could even fall off.
A party plan
If you have some room, your best bet would be to keep several bottles chilling in the refrigerator, and some juice boxes in the freezer. That way, as soon as your guests arrive, you can pass those out while you chill some more in icy water.
Just don’t forget to restock your fridge and freezer right away and to keep refilling those ice trays or bins (or get a dedicated countertop ice maker) so if a short visit turns into an all-day event, you will be able to serve up cool drinks for hours and hours.