This Is Why Americans Love Ice in Their Drinks and the British Don’t

You won't typically find a glass of water with ice on the other side of the pond.

Have you ever noticed how Americans fill up their entire glass with ice and then pour their beverage in, but Europeans take their drinks at room temperature? In the U.S., we’ve created fridges that give you cold ice at the press of a button, but in Britain they typically serve their tap water warm. Something else that the British do differently—driving. This is why Americans and Brits drive on opposite sides of the road.

This tradition— if that’s what you want to call it—dates back to the 19th century. During that time, it was already commonplace for most American homes to have an ice box. Ice would be harvested in northern America or Canada and shipped across the Atlantic and sold at a high price in British department stores. Can you imagine heading to Macy’s to treat yourself to a block of ice? This is why Americans and Brits have different accents, in case you were wondering.

Putting ice in your drink started to become somewhat of a fashion trend for the wealthy in Britain. Some would put a few cubes in their champagne and sip on their chilled drinks at high-class parties. But, like with any fashion trend, it eventually faded, mainly because the ice was just too expensive. And even once ice boxes began appearing in homes in Britain as well, Brits never took a liking to ice in their drinks.

So, next time you travel overseas, don’t feel offended when your server gives you an eye roll when you ask for ice water—and make sure to follow these British etiquette rules.

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Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for rd.com, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.