The Rise of “Premium” Ice

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Suntory’s printed premium ice sculpture (yes, this is a real picture with a real piece of ice in the rocks glass).

Everyone knows that Bourbon of the Day is a big proponent of enjoying bourbon in the best way possible; spherical ice cubes, king cubes, and stones have proven to be the best way to keep your bourbon perfectly chilled without over-dilution.

But if you find yourself paying more for the ice that goes in your bourbon than what you pay for the bourbon itself, something is wrong.

So apparently its not enough that the spirits industry has given us the $1,200 margarita and the $2,000 mint julep – now some businesses have decided that the world needs $75 premium ice.

Whats even more mind blowing is that these businesses are thriving!

At the forefront of this new industry is a company called Gläce Luxury Ice. Gläce produces a perfectly spherical, 2.5″ premium ice cube that sells in packages of 5 ice spheres for $40, which is $8 per ice cube. According to the company, what makes Gläce so special is their proprietary manufacturing process that creates a zero-taste profile ice. You dont want to go polluting your premium hooch with tapwater ice, so you should pay them $40 for premium ice that has no taste or impurities.

If Gläce  is beneath your lofty ambitions, At Williams-Sonoma, the aluminum Cirrus Ice Ball Press uses gravity to press an ice block into an ice sphere, one at a time. The kit, with freezer molds for creating the ice blocks, retails from $700 to $1,200. There has been plenty of interest despite the price tag, says Michelle Foss, the chain’s vice president of merchandising. Splurging on premium ice “adds a sense showmanship to what you’re doing,” she says.

Its not just the molds that are driving up ice prices. Suntory, the parent company of Jim Beam, is producing 3D “printed” ice cubes at an estimated cost of a few hundred bucks per design. The ice cubes are cut into almost-scarily intricate shapes, from a guitar with ice strings to an ice horse with a realistic mane.

Then there are bars and restaurants that are flipping the script by putting cocktails inside of ice. Literally. At The Aviary in Chicago, there is a walk-in refrigerator devoted to nothing but premium ice—nothing else is stored there for fear that it will contaminate the flavor of the ice. At last check, a shipment of peated water from Islay, Scotland had arrived. For what? Ice.

The Aviary's Ginger cocktail. Vodka and simple syrup is poured into the mixture and is then stirred with a stick of lemon grass. The cocktail is sipped from the narrow end of the glass. "This one is all about change over time," says Mr. Schoettler, proprietor. "If I give you an 8-ounce cocktail, by the time you take three sips you palette's already dull. This way, you never get acclimated to one flavor profile."

The Aviary’s Ginger cocktail. Vodka and simple syrup is poured into the mixture and is then stirred with a stick of lemon grass. The cocktail is sipped from the narrow end of the glass.

 

I will admit, these are bad ass, but…its ice. Give it 5 minutes and you are still left with water.

The Aviary is so serious that they hired a chef whose sole task is to make ice—nearly 20 varieties. Ice infused with cloves. Distilled lemon ice. Hollow globes of ice filled with Old Fashioneds (see more pics on our Facebook page).  There is ice the size of peas made from custom silicone molds—just for tiki drinks. They also have a blast chiller that enables their mixologists to line the insides of glasses with a thick layer of ice. Yea.

I dont care if you build a mini distillery inside of an ice mold that produces bourbon while you drink it, I cant justify paying upwards of $100 for ice.

My Wife: “Hey honey…what is this $450 charge on our credit card?”

Me: “Its for premium ice for this drink I bought…its from a glacier in Nova Scotia and there’s a lemon ginger terrarium inside of it, and…”

Joan-Vase

By | 2014-06-02T19:41:29+00:00 June 2nd, 2014|Speakeasy|