Like a Portlandia skit come to life, Washington D.C.’s latest haute cocktail development is hand-crafted ice. A boutique ice company called Favourite Ice already supplies a number of fancy bars in the capital, but the Washington City Paper reports that new restaurant Second State will be the first to start charging $1 extra for the hand-cut cubes.
The bar at Second State will charge drinkers $1 extra for artisanal, hand-cut rocks. (Photo: Facebook/Second State)
According to NPR, Favourite Ice makes its premium product by freezing filtered water into 200-to-300-pound blocks, like the type used in ice sculptures. The giant blocks are then broken down to specification using a saw. The resulting cubes are crystal-clear and melt more slowly than regular sized ice blocks—meaning your cocktail or whiskey is not diluted or adulterated with the minerals regularly found in tap water.
While it might seem an unnecessary measure to some, one of the company’s cofounders, Joe Ambrose, thinks of it as part-and-parcel of the high-end cocktail experience: “If you’re gonna get a drink that’s $15, it better have the best ice.” There are a number of similar companies operating nationwide, and Ambrose told NPR that some connoisseurs are so enamored of the slow-melting ice that they’ve complained when it’s in short supply.
Spherical ice by Glace, another artisanal ice company. (Photo: Glace Luxury Ice)
We’re all for attention to detail, but until now the cost of the haute cubes was generally built into the cocktail, and therefore hidden from the consumer. Even though Second State claims it makes a loss on the artisanal ice, the surcharge on any on-the-rocks tipple illuminates just how far down the rabbit hole we’ve come. What’s next—paying $1 more to have our drink served in a hand-blown glass tumbler?
Why not let customers choose whether they want to splurge for the luxury product? We are accustomed to being asked if we want bottled or tap water, well or top shelf liquor. Let those who value it pay a premium for better ice; the rest of us are content to suffer traces of fluoride and calcium in our whiskey. Not only does it save us some change but, more importantly, it spares us from feeling ridiculous.