There's No Ice In My Drinks!

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Why is there no ice in my drinks?  Why can't I find ice at the grocery store?  Where on God's green Earth are the ice trays to be found?  Hi!  Welcome to life in Germany!  Here in Germany, most people don't have their drinks with ice in them unless it's a cocktail at a bar that specifically calls for it, and if you're looking to make it to keep it at home, you may be in for a surprise.

Culturally, people in Germany don't drink as many ice-cold drinks as we are used to doing in America.  Whether it's at a movie theater, restaurant, or corner store, you're not likely to end up with a large cup that's more ice than drink (I'm looking at you, movie theaters in the U.S....).  In recent years, there's been an increase in the popularity of ice in drinks (for which you mostly have chains like Starbucks to thank), but historically this hasn't been the case.

Practically speaking, at home, keeping or making ice is difficult for most German families, as refrigerators are much smaller than you are used to in the U.S..  In student housing or in shared flats with university students in them, it's not uncommon for the refrigerator to only be the size you might expect to see in a dorm room, with the small- might fit a frozen pizza- freezer.  For larger families, or people who like keeping more frozen stuff, it's still a challenge, as even for freezers that are larger, it's tough to justify taking up a substantial amount of space for ice trays or bags of ice (I justify this.  I've claimed half my freezer space for ice.  #MURICA).

Additionally, given that the bottles of water that many people carry are large (1-1.5 liter; we've talked about this before), it's impractical to keep them in the fridge, when there is likely already juice, milk, or some other drink that actually has to stay cold in order to avoid it going off.

If you are thinking about asking for ice at a restaurant in Germany, I can't say that I'd recommend it.  To a much further extent than in the U.S., German restaurants sell soft drinks by volume, meaning that if they do give you ice, you're directly overpaying for whatever drink you've bought.  And there's no world in which they're going to give you free refills, either.

If you're looking for bagged ice in Germany, chains like Kaufland, Hit, or Real (which are substantially larger than the average German grocery store, and much more closely match what you'd expect from one in the U.S.) are likely to have it around.  As far as ice trays go, they're becoming more common, but you may have to keep an eye out for normal ice cube shaped ones, as many that you might see around tend to be some form of novelty shape.