User’s Guide

Ice, Ice Baby

A closer look at ice cubes that are currently en vogue— because a drink is only as good as its rocks.

Square Ice, PDT

Owner Jim Meehan: "The ice tray is a plastic mold. If you fill it with warm, filtered water, you’ll get a clear cube. We bought a pretty huge commercial stand-alone freezer. We freeze them, and then when we’re ready to use them we let them sit out for fifteen to twenty minutes just to pop them out of the molds. You can order a whiskey and savor it a little longer than if there are smaller cubes."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Crushed Ice, PDT

"We use a small machine that has a Fleetwood stamp on it. We use that to make [the ice that goes into] juleps and swizzles. Crushed ice works brilliantly in a julep. When there’s so much ice in a metal [shaking] vessel, it freezes in such a way that if you drink it within ten or twelve minutes you have a pretty beautiful drink."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Raspberry Ice, Death & Co.

Owner David Kaplan: "We make large-block ice for our punch-bowl service. That’s roughly about a four-by-three-inch block of ice. We do one with raspberries in it, just for a little bit of color."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Two-Inch Cube, Death & Co.

"[We use] plastic organizer trays [to] make two-by-two-inch, perfect cubes. We actually shake with those kinds of cubes. We double-freeze them: We freeze them in a low-temperature freezer once, and then we drop them out and drop them in a deeper freeze the second time to get them absolutely as cold as possible."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Kold-Draft Cube, Death & Co.

"Kold-Draft is a type of ice machine that’s becoming the standard in cocktail culture. They make perfect one-inch cubes — very solid, very few impurities or air bubbles in them. We use those if we’re serving something in a collins glass, so there’d be three to four ice cubes in a collins glass."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Irregular Picked Ice, Milk and Honey

Owner Sasha Petraske: "We freeze filtered water into a block and then cut it or, in some cases, use a mold to get a particular shape.… A good drink is always going to have the same amount of dilution. The idea is that you want to get it as cold as possible in the process of adding that correct amount of water."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Cheater Ice, Tailor

Mixologist Eben Freeman: "This is what we use when most people are just having a vodka and tonic or something like that.… Really, these are designed to cheat the consumer. They’re designed so as many as possible can be packed into a glass, therefore taking up the most room. If you’re serving just sodas, there’s less ounces of soda that goes into the glass, and if you’re making a mixed drink, it tastes strong, even though there isn’t that much booze in there."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Ice Cube, Tailor

"We went to a place called Plasticland and found these organizer trays. They’re made out of a harder plastic, but that plastic doesn’t smell. Preservice, we take those trays out of the freezer to let the [cubes] sweat a little bit and melt into the trays until we can take them and sort of shake them and the cubes drop out of them. What you get is a perfect two-inch-square cube, which happens to fit just perfectly inside a double-old-fashioned glass or a rocks glass."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

8" Ice, Weather Up

Kathryn Weatherup: "We have rocks that fit into the rocks glasses that we use for the shaken-cocktail drinks. The glasses are about eight inches high, so [the ice is] about eight inches."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Sphere, B Flat

B Flat wouldn’t give up the secret behind its spherical ice, but another mixologist clued us in: "I asked [bartender Shin Ikeda] if they cut them by hand, and he said they did. He showed me the knife they use to cut the ice blocks, and it was a superthick, sharp Japanese blade."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Iced-Tea Cube, Country

Mixologist William Rhodes: "A lot of what we do here is deconstructing and then reconstructing. This is the same organic Chinese tea that we brew, put into a plastic ice tray and into the freezer overnight."

Photograph by Melissa Hom

Orchid Ice, Daniel

Xavier Herit: "I came up with the idea to freeze the orchid flower inside an ice ball. The ice ball keeps the cocktail chilled until the end. The ice is round — roughly the size of a clementine. We use a mold to make it. You can find this mold in the MoMA store, but it’s made in Japan."

Photograph by Melissa Hom