Now that we’ve entered the “craft cocktail” era, drinks with double-digit price tags are just par for the course. And in many cities, there’s a decent chance that your fancy craft drink now comes with a large, crystal-clear cube or rectangle that melts unhurriedly in your glass. That’s right: Artisanal ice is a thing.
Excuse me? That’s what we said when the Washington City Paper reported that a restaurant called Second State will charge $1 per “hand-cut rock” if you order from its rye whiskey menu. (If you order one of the cocktails, which range from $11 to $17, the fancy cubes are included gratis.)
And apparently it’s a cut above the stuff routinely coughed up by your Frigidaire:
Regular ice is cloudy because of the minerals like calcium in tap water, [Joe] Ambrose says. (Editor’s note: Air bubbles that form as water crystallizes also contribute to the clouds, as some commenters informed us.) So he filters water, and then puts it in a big machine made by Clinebell — the same machine that makes those huge blocks for ice sculptures.
The machine churns out 200- to 300-pound blocks of crystal-clear ice. Ambrose or his partner, Owen Thomson, director of the beverage program at Range restaurant, then cut up these giant blocks into 25-pound slabs or 2-inch cubes with a band saw.
“It’s hard work: You’re dealing with ice and slippery surfaces, and working with a blade that’s made for cutting up cows,” says Ambrose. “It’s a little scary, especially when the blades wear down and pop and metal goes flying across the room. Oh, and your hands get really cold.”
I expect a dispenser for these to show up in next year’s Sub-Zero hyperfridges.