Whether you're celebrating a special occasion, unwinding after a long day, or just want to end your evening with a nice little nightcap, there's only one thing that might be just as bad as not having the drink of your choice on hand. (Whether it's alcoholic or not.) And that's not having your beverage chilled. But before you settle for a lukewarm libation, stop what you're pouring. We've rounded up a few easy ways to cool down your drinks quickly thanks to the help of Colleen Weeden, senior brand manager in the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen.
Before we get to the methods, it's handy to know the ideal temperatures for different beverages. The American Homebrewers Association notes that as a general rule of thumb, all types of beer should be served from 38 to 55°F. (Although exact temperatures do vary depending on the brew.) As for vino, WineSpectator.com also gives a range for serving wine, which is 40 to 65°F. Similarly to beer, the temperature depends on the type of wine. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping your refrigerator at 40°F or below, which is probably where most of us are storing our drinks. Now, here's how to more quickly get your drinks down to that desired refreshing temperature.
Wrap With a Wet Paper Towel
A trick that has worked for Weeden is the wet paper towel method. All you have to do is wet a paper towel, wrap it around your beverage, and place it in the freezer. Although she's only tried this with bottles of wine (prosecco, specifically), Weeden says this idea can work with any canned or bottled beverage. If you're trying this out with a can of soda, Weeden warns to watch it carefully. If you leave it in there too long, it will expand and explode. "I usually leave my bottle of wine in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes and it comes out at my ideal chilled drinking temperature," Weeden says.
Soak in an Ice Bath
The paper towel method works pretty quickly, but just placing your drink inside the freezer doesn't. (Of course it will eventually chill your drink, but you do run the risk of accidentally freezing it.) Weeden says to instead place your cans or bottles in a tub ice of water and to leave them in there for one to two hours. You could also do this in your sink—just insert the stopper and fill it up with ice and cold water. Being submerged on all sides in cold water will cool drinks faster than just popping them in the freezer.
Store Glasses in the Refrigerator
As for herself, Weeden likes to stay prepared. She always keeps a few beer glasses in the fridge that are chilled and ready to go. She says if you decide to store glasses in your fridge, to make sure they're not too delicate and will not break if they're bumped. She adds to be very careful when pouring a lukewarm liquid because severe temperature changes can cause non-tempered glass to shatter.
Related: Beer Guide
Add Frozen Fruit
Another idea Weeden suggests is to keep frozen grapes or berries on hand. Not only do they make a delicious snack, but you can use them in lieu of ice cubes, so they won't water down your beverage. Of course, the fruit will slightly change the taste of your drink, so keep that in mind. We recommend trying it with soda water, seltzer, or liquor.
Although each technique gets the job done, they might not all be ideal for specific beverages. (For example, we're not so sure of giving our bottle of beer a fruity flavor.) But regardless of which method you try out, even if you only have warm bottles and cans on hand, you can get them cooled down in virtually no time.