Back in 2014, NPR wrote about the “artisanal” ice trend, pointing to a Washington, D.C., restaurant that was charging $1 per “handcut” rock. In this age of $15 cocktails topped with fancy flourishes, expensive ice just comes with the territory.
Milwaukee-based Beaker & Flask Beverage Co. is in the business of carving – and yes, they use chain and band saws – crystal-clear cubes from water put through reverse osmosis to remove impurities. The ice’s clarity, which comes as a result of slowing down the freezing process, produces denser, harder and colder ice that lasts longer in a drink.
Cube men Joey Houghtaling and Mike McDonald, who managed the bar at now-shuttered Blue Jacket, supply the slow-melting hunks to bars such as Boone & Crockett and Lucky Joe’s Tosa. And let’s not forget the needs of the home cocktail enthusiast.
In December, Ray’s Wine & Spirits in Tosa started carrying 12-packs of Beaker & Flask cubes for $7.99. Ray’s president Orey Laev says one of these cubes left out at room temperature would last eight hours. That means a cocktail is diluted less, so what remains stays agreeably, well, stiff.