There’s Now A Thing Called Artisanal Ice, It Melts Slower But Costs You More

Depending on where you live, you may be hard-pressed to find a cocktail under $10 nowadays. Drink prices have increased over the past several years thanks in part to more creatively crafted drinks and…ice? Yes, you read that right, artisanal ice is real and apparently expensive.

NPR reports that the super-special artisanal ice, which is crystal clear and melts at a slower pace, is freezing the competition when it comes to regular old ice, and contributing to consumers’ higher bar tabs.

Joe Ambrose, the owner of Favourite Ice, a company that hand-chisels 200- to 300-pound blocks of ice to be sold to local Washington, D.C., watering holes, tells NPR there’s a reason the artisanal ice is doing so well. It’s just better.

But how is that possible? Last time I checked the recipe for ice only had one ingredient: water.

Ambrose says the secret is in the way you make the ice. His company filters the water to rid it of cloudy substances like calcium, then pours it into a huge machine used to make ice for ice sculptures.

After the gigantic blocks of ice have solidified, Ambrose and his partner cut it into more manageable 25-pound slabs to be sold to bars and restaurants.

And there’s been no shortage of business for Favourite Ice, Ambrose tells NPR.

In fact, he says many bars have begun to use the superior ice to justify their already high-priced cocktails. After all, no one wants their $20 finger of whiskey to not taste like whiskey.

“The problem with lots of small ice cubes is that in 10 to 15 minutes, your drink tastes like watered-down booze — it doesn’t taste how its supposed to taste anymore,” he says.

While most bars either eat the cost of ice or build it into their drink prices, Washington City Paper reported this week on a new establishment that actually lists an ice surcharge on its menu.

For the $1 surcharge patrons can have their whiskey or crafted cocktails served on a “rock,” or rather a spherical iceberg-like chunk of ice.

Although the surcharge is a bit outside the norm, the restaurant’s manager says it doesn’t even come close to covering the actual cost of artisanal ice.

“It’s worth it,” the manager says. “When it goes into a cocktail, it’s crystal clear. It’s purified water, so there’s no minerally taste.”

Can Hand-Cut, Artisanal Ice Make Your Cocktail That Much Better? [NPR]
Second State Will Charge $1 Extra for Artisanal Ice [Washington City Paper]