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Lay Off the Artisanal Ice, You Ignorant Hipsters

on 31/10/14 at 2:19 pm

Booze News

indexHere’s the cold, hard truth about those giant ice cubes in craft cocktails.

If you want to understand the latest trend in craft cocktails, you could do worse than to listen to Outkast. What’s cooler than being cool is indeed ice cold. Specifically, it’s stored at minus-2 degrees, sculpted with a Japanese band saw, and retails for $1 a cube.

Yes, artisanal ice is now a thing. In hipster meccas from Portland to Williamsburg, bars are serving up their drinks on extra-dense, extra-clear cubes, produced through a laborious process of freezing and carving. Cocktail connoisseurs swear the difference in flavor is worth the extra effort: In addition to being more aesthetically pleasing, the cubes’ density and relatively large size mean they melt more slowly and dilute your drink less. But there’s evidence that the fancy ice might not be the coolest thing ever to happen to the environment.

Demand for artisanal ice grew out of the past decade’s “cocktail renaissance“—the rise of small-batch liquor producers, the rediscovery of pre-Prohibition recipes, and an increasing emphasis on fresh, homemade ingredients. The roughly two dozen establishments buying from DC-based distributor Favourite Ice include foodie destinations like Jaleo, a tapas bar, and the Capitol Hill seafood restaurant Hank’s Oyster Bar. Favourite Ice co-owner Joseph Ambrose says that since he founded the business in 2012, he’s had a steady stream of orders. “I basically haven’t slept in two years,” he laughs.