Why You'll Typically Never See The British Put Ice In Drinks

hands toasting with drinks
hands toasting with drinks - guys_who_shoot/Shutterstock

If you're used to ordering an iced latte at your local coffee shop or getting impeccably clear ice cubes at a fancy cocktail bar, culture shock may set in if you ever choose to travel to the United Kingdom. For many people, there are few things quite as refreshing as adding a few ice cubes to your cold drink. If you agree with this sentiment, then you'll probably be surprised to hear that most folks in the U.K. do not feel the same way. In the United States, almost any restaurant you go into will serve your cold drink with ice cubes. Most households have some means of storing ice to add to drinks. Yet, in Britain, things are different. Most people think you should never get ice in your drink and the reason why is embedded in history.

The practice of keeping frozen water on hand dates back to 1100 BC. By the 19th century, it was common for folks in the U.K. to head to department stores to buy ice from the U.S. and Canada to store in their homes. That may seem like a lot of work for some ice water to most of us. When you don't have ice cubes at your disposal, though, an extra cold drink can feel like a real luxury. During this time, ice cubes became exactly that in Britain; a luxury. The use of ice in drinks started as a trend for the British elite and it ended like one, too.

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Ice Came And Went In The U.K.

person drinking water
person drinking water - Yurii Yarema/Getty Images

In the 19th century, as people in other nations worked to obtain ice, wealthy British folks discovered that people were willing to go to great lengths for it. Consequently, putting ice in drinks became a sign of wealth in British homes. Wealthy British people became known for not only adding ice cubes to things like cold water or cocktails but any drink typically served room temperature or chilled got the extra cold treatment. People would even put ice cubes in champagne.

Still, even when iced drinks became particularly trendy, most people couldn't afford them. As a result, the trend never took off for those who weren't wealthy and ultimately faded for those who were. Even as freezers and refrigerators became commonplace in homes and having ice on hand became easier, most people just weren't used to having drinks with ice. It's difficult for Americans to imagine, but people in the U.K. just never considered it to be important, especially with cooler temperatures. Even as heatwaves rise in the U.K., they aren't used to dealing with higher temperatures and, therefore, don't consider coping with heat as vital as people in the U.S. do. In fact, air-conditioning is still far less common in Britain than it is across the pond. So, if you travel to the U.K., you might want to pack an ice cube tray just in case.

Read the original article on Mashed.