Dress up Your Drink with Trendy Specialty Ice

Ice: It’s an easy concept, right? Well, it actually depends who you ask and where you’re enjoying it. Here at KaTom discussions about obscure kitchen discoveries are not exactly rare. From one-upping each other with lunch-time foodie creations to attempting to guess Kitchenaid’s next stand mixer color, there is no telling what the topic of the day will be.

Recently, the discussion revolved around ice and the debate was deciding which type of ice is best. It turns out that we aren’t the only group having this discussion. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, bars are focusing on gourmet ice as an integral part of the drink experience experimenting with different flavors, shapes, and sizes.

Bar managers from New York to Beijing are using infused ice that carries the flavors of exotic flowers and herbs, hand chiseling shapes best for specific melt rates, and even shipping specialty ice in to fulfill the desire for ultra-purified additions to fancy cocktails.

Jack McGarry of New York’s The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog stated that, “The quality of ice that bars serve has become just as important as the quality of their spirits, juices, or mixers, and has a bearing on the presentation of finished drinks equal to the choice glassware.”

The Dead Rabbit is internationally known for their hand-carving of crystal-clear ice blocks for each 19th Century-inspired beverage. The reason behind this old-school approach is to create a tastier, less diluted, and, of course, more attractive drink.

Ice cut from crystal-clear blocks is typically highly filtered and void of impurities and air bubbles that make ice melt faster. The benefit behind this is a much less diluted and colder beverage. These blocks yield ice shavings, mini blocks, and round spheres, amongst other more creative shapes.

Ice spheres have been touted as the best for whiskey drinkers seeking to balance the perfect chill and water dilution rate while shaved chips and flakes are being used in juleps and smashes.

If you’re looking for infused ice, look no further than the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, where they have just the right touch for a complex palette. There you will find blast freezer formed two-inch cubes individually frozen with rose petals, raspberry stock, blackberries, cinnamon-apple flavoring, and pineapple flavoring. This flavored ice, coupled with gourmet spirits, yield rich and rapidly evolving flavors.

With flavors, shapes, and hand carved options in the mix, it’s obvious that the future of ice may not be as simple as we once thought. Despite the ever-changing landscape of the food and beverage industry, there is one constant when it comes to the flavors we so enjoy: The promise of change and innovation. Cheers to creativity and may all your drinks be perfectly chilled and never diluted!

Chelsea B. Sanz
Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.

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