Which ice buckets are best?
When you’re entertaining, there’s one thing almost every guest shares in common: the refreshing taste of chilled beverages. It’s worth investing in an ice bucket before your next party so that you can serve beer, water, soda and even champagne at optimal temperatures.
There are countless ice buckets on the market, ranging from upscale designs made with fine materials to ice buckets that have double-wall insulation. If you’re looking for an ice bucket with curb appeal, Oggi Insulated Ice Bucket is the top choice.
What to know before you buy an ice bucket
Popular types of ice buckets
Although ice buckets all share the same goal of storing ice and chilled beverages, there are several designs on the market. Traditional ice buckets feature cylindrical designs and typically come with a lid and tongs. Some modern ice buckets forgo lids, including tub and cooler-inspired designs with larger capacities. Several ice buckets have onboard storage to hold accessories.
Ice buckets are available in a broad range of capacities, expressed in quarts or gallons. It’s recommended to convert the ice buckets you’re considering into the same units, so you know exactly how they compare.
- Smaller ice buckets start at approximately 3 quarts, ideal for holding a single bottle and a limited amount of ice.
- Mid-size ice buckets, closer to 10 quarts, are suitable to hold a few bottles or several cans.
- Some ice buckets may have 20-quart capacities or larger. They’re ideal for holding a significant amount of ice or several full-size bottles and cans.
How to use an ice bucket
There are a few schools of thought about the proper way of filling an ice bucket, and it sometimes depends on the type of beverage.
For champagne, some people recommend filling the bottom with ice and ice water, then adding the bottle and adding more ice around it. Those chilling white wine may fill the bottom half of the bucket with ice water, followed by the bottle and then insulating it with ice. As far as beer cans and water bottles are concerned, many people fill the ice buckets or tubs with two-thirds ice and then fit cans and bottles inside.
What to look for in a quality ice bucket
Most ice buckets use stainless steel, copper or high-grade polypropylene materials. Stainless steel is aesthetically pleasing, durable and easy to keep clean. However, it may develop stains or spots over time. Copper ice buckets are known for their rich color and ornate designs, but unfortunately, very few of these are insulated. Polypropylene ice buckets are generally affordable and the easiest to keep clean, though they lack curb appeal given their practical designs.
Ice buckets, like many types of serveware, are designed to be easily moved. Smaller ice buckets, for example, usually have a single tote handle that may have an ergonomic grip. Larger ice buckets, particularly tub styles, tend to have two large handles similar to those on laundry baskets. A few minimalist ice buckets lack handles and drips altogether, though they’re usually small and slender enough that they are easy to hold or lift.
Ice buckets usually come with tongs or a scoop to retrieve ice; however, they’re far from the only accessories you’ll find. Some ice buckets come with garnish trays to hold wedges or olives, whereas others come with bar tools like bottle stoppers, cocktail shakers or muddlers. A few deluxe ice buckets come with matching glassware.
Many modern ice buckets have double-wall insulation to maximize cold time for beverages and ice. Double-wall insulation places a barrier between the chilled ice bucket and warm outside air. Then, the added space slows down the melting time of ice, and it may keep ice and beverages cold for several hours. In contrast, ice buckets that lack double-wall insulation may have their beverages reach room temperature after a couple of hours.
How much you can expect to spend on ice buckets
Entry-level ice buckets with smaller capacities cost $20 and below. Ice buckets with better insulation and construction quality, as well as ice tubs, range from $30-$75. Decorative and designer ice buckets cost anywhere from $100-$400.
Ice bucket FAQ
Do I need an ice bucket with a lid?
A. If you only intend to store ice in the ice bucket, a lid is a feature worth having. Not only does it keep cold air inside the bucket, but it also prevents debris from landing inside the bucket, which in turn may transfer onto the ice and into drinks.
Why is a drainage mechanism important for ice buckets?
A. Ice buckets with drainage mechanisms make it much easier to empty liquid, namely in a mess-free way. However, some of these mechanisms have tiny crevices that are hard to clean. Unfortunately, it may result in mold and mildew accumulation.
What’s the best ice bucket to buy?
Top ice bucket
What you need to know: The stainless steel ice bucket has a no-sweat bottom, which means no condensation rings on tables.
What you’ll love: A matching stainless steel scoop is stored in a built-in compartment on the side. The bucket has double-wall insulation that keeps ice frozen and beverages cold. It’s easy to carry around a room thanks to its soft-grip handle.
What you should consider: It has an acrylic lid, but the hinged mechanism is more fragile than expected.
Top ice bucket for the money
What you need to know: If you’re looking for a casual cooler suitable for outdoor use, this Igloo bucket is ideal.
What you’ll love: The bucket is made with high-density polypropylene that is durable and easy to clean. It has a leak-resistant drain plug that makes for mess-free liquid drainage. The spacious design is ideal for storing larger cans and bottles.
What you should consider: The design isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as traditional ice buckets.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This modern ice bucket is a space-savvy design that makes serving beverages simple.
What you’ll love: The bucket has a removable garnish tray that holds plenty of wedges. It has an internal reservoir that eliminates mess by separating ice from liquids. The hinged lid is durably made, unlike other buckets with similar designs.
What you should consider: Because it’s on the smaller side, it’s not ideal for holding much more than ice or a single bottle.
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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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