Water without Ice

One of the hardest things for me in the US of A is getting a glass of water (or any other not hot beverage) without ice. The default, even in the very depths of winter, is a glass that’s at least half ice, half water.

They even put ice in orange juice! In bubbly water! It’s INSANE!

I do not get it. Why so much ice? Why do USians want to have their teeth painfully assaulted with sub-arctic temperature liquids?

Is that truly what they want?

I will never understand it.


  1. Word Lily on #

    My husband usually asks for his beverages without ice. The cold drinks don’t hurt my teeth, and I actually do enjoy water, especially, cold.

  2. Grand Fromage on #

    I do want my cold drinks as cold as possible. I calibrate my fridge to keep the water pitcher just at the edge of freezing, with a little ice forming around the rim but nothing more. I don’t like ice in drinks other than water, either, not because of temperature but because it dilutes the flavor out of them.

  3. Michelle Sagara on #

    I almost always agree with what you have to say, but…

    I want ice in everything. I want more ice in anything that already has ice in it. I want water with ice, soda water with ice, coke, anything that’s supposed to be cold at all. Even fortified wine.



    It is probably the fault of people like me πŸ˜€

  4. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    Sing it, Justine! They’re nuts. All of them.

    Ice is an option that some people prefer (even I do, sometimes). It’s not an ingredient of anything called “a drink.”

    Glad it’s not just me. If you could see to having this fixed, I’d be grateful.

  5. Patrick on #

    I don’t drink with my teeth.

  6. Barry Lyga on #

    One of my best friends is a Brit who’s lived in the States for twenty years. It’s both heartening and depressing to see how she STILL, after all these years, keeps trying to get “water, no ice” in restaurants. It’s such a SIMPLE request, and yet waitstaff seem incapable of honoring it.

    Two possible answers to your question: 1) it’s cultural – American simply like cold drinks, 2) it’s economic – the more ice you put in the glass, the less beverage you’re giving away for whatever you’re charging. πŸ™‚

  7. Elizabeth Zwicky on #

    As I sit here with the sweat dripping down my back, in a house where I could count the number of ice cubes, I must say Yes! Yes! I want ice! More ice! In fact, forget the drink. Just bring me a mango and a glass of ice.

    In defense of the sanity of the American populace, I must point out the existence of the granitΓ© and the granizado, exciting European slushies. And the only way to get enough ice in Europe without going to MacDonalds.

  8. Justine on #

    I have no desire to stop anyone having ice. Bathe in it for all I care. All I want is to ask for water without ice and it not be a total drama.

    Patrick: You must not have any teeth if you can drink without liquid making contact with them. I’ve long suspected you were a freak. This confirms it.

  9. David Moles on #

    Funny, that’s just how I feel about getting lukewarm sticky drinks all the time over here in Europe. Only backwards.

  10. cbjames on #

    I’m with David. How can everyone in Europe drink warm drinks in the summer? Didn’t they have an industrial revolution?

  11. Kaia on #

    (Most) Americans are weird about their ice. I spent five years trying to get my drinks without it. I hate watered down drinks more than I hate getting-slightly-warmer-the-longer-I-drink-it drinks.

    On a side note, I do love ice. I eat ice plain and call it a day. But in my drinks? Hell no.

  12. capt. cockatiel on #

    My friends always think that it’s so odd that there isn’t any ice in my house for drinks. I’m not a big fan of ice.
    One friend that I have puts ice in her tea. Her Supposed To Be Hot tea!!

  13. Pamela on #

    My oldest son dislikes ice in his drinks and always orders them that way. I’ve never noticed it to cause much drama, however, at least not from the waitpeople. Are you with friends who are less understanding, or have you had a run of waitpeople with bad service manners?

  14. Mitch Wagner on #

    I don’t match your experiences trying to get beverages without ice. I don’t like ice in cold beverages either, and I have no problem getting it that way in restaurants. Must be my forceful personality and charisma. Yeah, that’s it.

    I don’t really like cold beverages at all. Even on a warm day, like today, I like my drinks room-temperature or warmer. I just had a room-temperature can of Diet Dr Pepper and I’m about to go make a pot of hot tea. It’s now 84 degrees F outside and in my home office, and it’s going to get hotter.

    My wife, on the other hand, loves iced tea, and likes it American style, a glass full of ice with tea poured over it. When we travel in the UK, we end up instructing restaurateurs and publicans how to make it, with varying reception: Some enjoy learning something new, others want us to sod off and take our imperialist Yankee cold beverages with us.

  15. Shutterbug on #

    I had a friend from France come over to the US and stay with my family. She expressed exactly the same argument as you did. I love cold beverages, but ice is a great nuisance, especially in water. Asking for a straw usually helps with the frozen teeth problem. (Preferably crazy, hot-pink straws.)

  16. Shell on #

    I don’t like any of my drinks with ice in them, with the exception of iced coffee. It is always so much trouble to get any drinks without ice. I not only don’t like the ice there, but it also leaves much, much less room for drink. I never like going through the trouble of having to pointedly state “no ice, please,” and therefore I usually put up with it.

  17. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    My mom likes LOTS of ice. When she orders iced tea in a restaurant, she asks for “ice tea, with an extra glass of ice”.

    I don’t make special requests regarding ice in my drink, but when eating at a place where I fill my own cup I fill it halfway with ice and the rest is drink. It’s enough ice to float on the top and keep the drink cool without watering it down. I don’t think I’d be happy with ice-less soda, but I rarely drink soda at all so it wouldn’t be much of an issue.


  18. m.k. on #

    One of my friends prefers water with no ice and does not seem to have the problem with waitstaff. They usually just pour it out of the pitcher carefully, and taa-daa, no ice cubes, and it’s not a big hassle for them, but she can’t count on them to remember it when they come back to top off her glass.

    On the other hand, I like to carefully calibrate the sweetness of my iced tea and have to guard my glass against waitstaff eager to top it off for me. Wandering a little off-topic, I’m in a state where unsweetened iced tea is usually the default and if you want sweet tea, you need to sweeten it yourself (unless you order a ‘plantation’ iced tea, made with fruit juice). I am mildly entertained by noting how visitors order iced tea because it can tell me things about where they are from and how much traveling they do.

  19. HypotheticalDystopia on #

    I usually end up choking on ice cubes. The only drink I like with ice cubes is too strong, so it has to be watered down. (And I drink it with a straw)

  20. Rebecca on #

    I hate ice in my water. I always ask for water with no ice. Also, I get light ice or no ice in every drink. I think it’s a ploy so the companies and restaurants can charge you for a full drink then fill it with ice so that you get almost nothing. *cough*STARBUCKS*cough*

    In general, though, once I’ve asked for no ice, people are pretty good about remembering.

  21. Paradox on #

    I live in the US, and I don’t like having ice in my drinks, unless it is a blazing summer day. Even then, I wouldn’t put ice in orange juice. But it seems like everyone else around me HAS to have ice in all their drinks. I, personally, don’t like my teeth frozen. At least I’ve never seen anyone put ice in something like milk. I guess that’s too much for anyone.

  22. Tim on #

    I’m a bit in the middle somewhere. I like ice, but I only like a little bit. I hate it when I order a drink and the glass is half-ice. I feel like I’m being ripped off…

  23. Mark on #

    For some reason, it’s just the fashion in America right now. I couldn’t tell you why; I just live here. Maybe restaurant management thinks it’s more impressive or something.

    I used to not drink water unless it were absolutely ice-cold, but now I’ve developed a taste for room-temperature stuff. In fact, I was at a sandwich shop a few weeks ago that had run out of ice, so they only had room-temperature water. I was so happy! I think I drank about a quart of it.

    On the pro-ice side, though, although I don’t usually drink anything other than water, I would say that lots of beverages– definitely any cocktail-type mixed drink– tastes better ice-cold.

  24. Rachel on #

    I have always been anti-ice (personally, not generally), but I’m the only person I know who is; I always drink everything (water on a hot day to soda) without ice, except juice, which is too thick (in my opinion) on its own but yucky watered down. I had no idea everpresent ice was only an American thing (My horizons could be broader) but was surprised; all my friends are ice-lovers who consider me a freak for not being one.

    I don’t know why there is so much ice here except for in one circumstance: I have heard that movie theaters use obscene amounts of ice because it’s cheaper than soda. I assume this is true but I don’t know if it applies to other places.

    *please note this does not apply to alcoholic drinks as I am underage!

  25. Patrick on #

    Justine – I don’t feel comfortable saying this on YA author blog – Uhh, I guess I am supremely talented with my tongue?

    Lower lip covers front bottom teeth – tongue forms funnel to esophagus – I do not see the challenge. The less talented may simply use alien technology called “straw”.

    I will neither confirm nor deny freak status.

  26. Elodie on #

    I ask for no ice, usually, but then sometimes they fill your cup less cause really, ice is just a way for places to be cheap–it costs a lot less than the beverage! However I haven’t had anywhere get mad at me or anything for asking no ice xD

  27. Julia on #

    I always get my drinks without ice. Not because of the temperature, but it melts and makes the drink watery.

  28. Bethany on #

    I agree with Rebecca, and some other mentions:
    it’s cheaper. It’s default for that reason. And defaults mean strong habits, though that’s not much of an excuse for forgetting.

    Speaking of Starbucks, I had a friend who would order a hot coffee with a free cup of ice. She made her own iced coffee, just *more* of it. ^_^

  29. Mitch Wagner on #

    Glad to see other people are backing up my assertion that it’s actually not at all hard to get beverages without ice here in America.

    Any statement to the otherwise is a vile calumny against our great nation. You hate us because of our freedom, and ice.

  30. Candace on #

    I love ice water, but I agree that it can be painful on the teeth! Have you tried sensodyne toothpaste? It worked for me.

    I wonder why “water, no ice” is such a hard thing to get in restaurants. Possibly an interesting research topic (this is the psych major in me talking) πŸ˜‰

    How goes the lindy hopping?

  31. Jennifer on #

    Eh, my mother orders drinks without ice all the time. It seems to be easier to get in fast-food joints, but whatever.

    I don’t really care if I get ice or not. If the drink wasn’t refrigerated it’s good, but if the drink was already cold, I don’t care. I don’t even bother to keep ice trays around at home any more.

  32. caitlin on #

    I love ice. For me a glass of water is not complete without several ice cubes swimming in already chilled water.

  33. Camille on #

    Oh, I hate this. Mostly. I used to believe that they’d fill up your cup with ice before giving you soda (something I noticed happening more and more starting in the 80s), as a cost-saving/CHEATING maneuver, but that doesn’t really explain the ice in the water.

    I don’t hate ice in beverages unequivocally. A few cubes can be nice in summertime. And I think ice might disguise the taste of less-than-great water, actually. But I really dislike being frozen from the center of my body on out all year round. And it’s completely unsatisfying to have more ice than water, and then have to wait 20 minutes for the stuff to melt in order to get any thirst-quenching done.

  34. Camille on #

    By the way, I have caught my mother putting ice in her wine.

  35. Amber on #

    They just want more money for less stuff. So if they fill a glass half full of ice there’s less pop, or whatever drink it is. You can ask for no ice, though, at least most places.

  36. Melanie on #

    Ice is WAY overrated. Everyone always looks at me weird when I tell them I don’t want any.

  37. Mitch Wagner on #

    This whole discussion is weirding me out. I’ve never found it difficult to get beverages without ice, and nobody’s ever looked at me funny because of it. I just say, “I’d like a Diet Coke, no ice, please,” and they bring it right away. Occasionally they get it wrong, but when I point it out the waitstaff trots back to the kitchen and brings me a fresh drink, properly made.

    I feel like I’ve fallen into a parallel universe: The World Of Mandatory Ice.”

  38. C. J. on #

    It’s not impossible — it just takes cultivation. In the case of one mixologist, it took fifteen months¹ before he dropped the “no ice… (beat)…are you sure?” response to my request for “$DRINK with water/soda back, no ice, please” from his standard patter.
    I’ve actually trained him to prepare a Long Island Tea² without sputtering.³

    [1] There were at least two —ing cold Februarys amongst the aforementioned fifteen months. Persistence and the occasional blank stare eventually led to triumph. πŸ™‚

    [2] Not a typo. Same ingredients as an LIIT, but all start at >0°C. Tastes better and is slightly less debilitating.

    [3] Alas, other bar patrons will inevitably compensate for mine host’s aplomb by asking “What the **** are you drinking?”

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