The Coolest Post Yet

[image courtesy of the Onion]

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Move over, frozen water.

Ice used to be a colorless, tasteless addition. It chilled a drink as it melted, and lowered the alcohol level to a palatable strength. In today’s current renaissance of cocktail culture, bartenders have become mixologists, dilution is a dirty word, and every aspect of a mixed drink is subject to fetishistic scrutiny.

Now we have artisanal ice. Yes, I said ice.

Regular old cubes just won’t do. Instead, the ideal form is matched to each cocktail; the size and shape custom-fitted to each glass. You might find a single tennis ball-sized sphere for scotch on the rocks, gin and tonic in a highball glass chilled by height-appropriate tube-shaped ice, and hand-chipped bits crushed in muslin (to capture the rogue particles) for the perfect julep. An ice- and shaker-free martini might be made with a spritz from a vermouth atomizer and a bottle of gin pulled from the freezer.

The water that goes into the making of the perfect ice can be distilled, boiled, infused with minerals, or put through a reverse osmosis process. It is double- and triple-frozen to remove gases  and  aged 48 hours for extra hardness. The goal is ice that is colder, denser, clearer, slower-melting, and longer-lasting than typical cubes. Bars and restaurants that can’t support their own ‘ice programs’ are turning to a new breed of luxury ice makers that can charge a dollar or more for a single ice sphere.

The new thinking is that drinks should be kept as strong as possible. Dilution has become a dirty word. This means in a few of the world’s more epicurean watering holes you may witness young bartenders shaking drinks without ice or loading in large hand-hewn chunks, with less surface area to melt, then shaking furiously but briefly and “double straining” through fine mesh to remove any rogue ice particles.

The devil is in the details.

The ice in your cocktail could just be the best thing you’ve never tasted.

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3 Responses to The Coolest Post Yet

  1. Wow, very interesting…This is the first I have heard of this. Great info:)

  2. Jillyan says:

    Hmmm… that was actually very interesting. I guess I’m just kind of “geeky” that way..LOL

  3. we’ll have to look out for this, although i doubt we’ll see much of it in columbus. the drink scene is mainly targeted toward OSU and football season. who knows, they may try to have buckeye shaped cubes though 🙂

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