Well that was a crazy year. Full of sadness and sacrifice. Full of hope and resilience. Through it all, we toasted our friends from a distance or over Zoom calls. We all became our own bartenders in the safety of our homes while restaurants and bars suffered along with all of us around the world.
On the eve of a new year, there is a light rising at the top of the hill with a vaccine on the horizon. Maybe I'll be able to go to an ice vendor. Maybe they will be open. Maybe so many of us will stop dying. Maybe we will be able to hug our friends again. Maybe we can toast in our houses again. Hopefully we can share the privilege of clear ice with more people again.
Stay safe out there. Welcome 2021. We've been waiting for you.
The pandemic continues. As we all hide indoors on the second (or third?) surge... let the life force flow over the crystal cool celebrations. Here's a look into my clear ice life over the past couple of months.
Stay safe out there!
I had the opportunity to catch up with Kaylene Wetzstein at Creative Ice and learn a little more about how they got into the clear ice business.
Trapper: When did you first personally discover clear cocktail ice was an actual thing?
Kaylene: I got the idea to start producing craft ice in 2006 when customers started requesting blocks of ice to cut up themselves. Then I saw some of the questionable methods and coming from a culinary background I thought to myself, I can do this better and safer.
T: What's the mission of your company and how is it striving to be unique in the clear ice space?
K: To provide the best quality craft ice available in a variety of shapes and sizes. We provide top rated customer service and delivery to the hospitality industry and general public.
T: What has been the best part of building a clear cocktail ice business?
K: The reaction of new customer when they see the clarity and slow melting characteristics truly clear craft ice. The satisfaction that our ice has become a standard ingredient that mixologist and consumers no only want but come to expect.
T: What do you think is the next big thing for the cocktail ice industry?
K: More availability to the general public.
Check Creative Ice out in our Makers Directory, online, Instagram, and through the pictures below!
Sometimes you are just hanging around your house and cool things happen. Recently this happened to me when J.T. Caulton of Detroit Ice Works emailed me out of the blue and asked if he could swing by my house and drop off a sample of King Cubes!
They aren't available nationwide yet, but they should be! Luckily J.T. provided me a cooler of amazing goodies!
I can't thank J.T. enough for dropping off the King Cubes samples. I was able to catch up with him on email for a few questions later in the week.
1. When did you first personally discover clear ice was an actual thing?
I remember going to the speakeasies and cocktail bars in New York City and in Chicago in the early 2010's and being mesmerized by the clear ice available there. Specifically, the first time was getting a cocktail at Violet Hour and marveling at how the candlelight bounced off of a beautifully translucent cube. Just as the perfect ambience can really be complimented by a great cocktail, beautiful ice really perfects that cocktail.
2. What motivated you to make the jump to doing it professionally?
It wasn't until the craft cocktail scene gained traction in Detroit that we thought, "why don't we have clear ice here??" We kept asking that question with no apparent answer until it became clear (pun intended) to us.... we were the ones that had to do it! Looking into it, we were fascinated by the craft and science that goes into the production of clear ice. My partner and I are both engineers by trade, so that naturally appealed to us.
3. What's the mission of your company and how is it striving to be unique in the clear ice space?
The mission of Detroit Ice Works is to provide bars and restaurants in Metro Detroit with the highest quality clear cocktail ice and best customer service. Recently, we just launched our King Cubes product, which makes this quality of ice available for the home experience. In the age of COVID, this has become especially timely! We've taught classes on "ice history" (yes, it's a thing!) and done Japanese ice carving demonstrations. Our goal is to share our passion for the craft of clear ice with everyone.
4. What has been the best part of building a clear ice business?
The best part has been hands down, the people! The people we've met and the relationships we've built have been incredible. We've met the most creative, inquisitive, and talented people through Detroit Ice Works. Whether it's trialing a new concept (hello, color-changing pea flowers!) or brainstorming a new cocktail (ever try a cube that glows under UV light?), it's been heartwarming and fulfilling bringing a little joy and excitement to people through cocktails. Some of our favorite moments have been sitting at a customer's bar while overhearing someone two seats down exclaiming, "Wow! This is a gorgeous cocktail! Look at this ice!"
5. What do you think is the next big thing for the cocktail ice industry?
I think the hospitality industry will be fundamentally affected by COVID. Returning to just a model where tables are turned won't be the only plan going forward. I think bars and restaurants will want to have a solid carry-out and home meal prep program, as people dine-in less and cook at home more. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing - we will all just need to adapt going forward. At Detroit Ice Works we've launched carry-out cocktail ice (2 cubes in bag) for bars and restaurants, as well as our King Cube retail product (8 cubes in box) for grocery and liquor stores. As always, we are looking for ways to collaborate, whether that is other ice companies, distributors, event companies, or bars and restaurants. You can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our King Cubes website is www.kingcubesice.com!
I had a chance to catch up with Misel Bosancic of Ice Qube and learn a little bit about how their company started.
How did you get into making clear ice personally?
I was a bartender for 19 years and the topic of ice cubes has always fascinated me, so I always looked to Japan and their ice cube culture. Like my numerous colleagues, I have found that ice cubes are the most important ingredient in drinks. So I left the bar scene and used Ice Qube to make ice cubes for the bar scene. It's a wonderful and cool trip. :)
What motivated you to make the jump to doing it professionally?
To make it professional, I was moved by the love of the bar scene. The bartenders were finally able to develop their drinks and inspire their guests even more. It is a higher level for the optics, taste, and the experience of the consumer and bartender to work with our ice cubes.
What's the mission of your company and how is it striving to be unique in the clear ice space?
The mission and aim of the Ice Qube is to make clear ice available in the market. The topic of clear ice is still relatively unknown, at least here in the region, in contrast to Japan. We reckon that this will change in about two to three years and that people / consumers will place more value on clear ice. And that's where we will become clear ice pioneers in our region.
To learn more about Ice Qube, check out their website and photos below:
The clear ice is flowing... at pandemic speeds around here...
Thanks to Zymna Voda Ice Company for contacting us about their business with a request to add them to our Maker page!
Zymna Voda Ice Company is based in Lviv, Ukraine and sells premium ice for more than 800 customers in 25 cities in the country. They also build the ice producing machines worldwide under the BF Technology brand with clients in France, Portugal, Germany, Denmark, Australia, etc.
You can learn more at http://www.vodaZ.com.ua
Here's an article from Home World Business talking about how consumers are Elevating their Aspirations around bar ware and the home cocktail experience.
It’s no question that the craft cocktail movement has certainly had an influence on the at-home bar. Consumers enjoying creative and handcrafted cocktails, or tasting new spirits out at restaurants, have a renewed appreciation for proper techniques and ingredients. However, as consumers become more confident, so has their desire to refine their own bartending skills. Such aspirations have led to an increased demand in elevated wine and bar accessories for the home.
Craft ice is also a critical trend in this:
Ice, too, has become a focal point, as consumers expand their cocktail making knowledge. Larger, clear cubes of ice are sought out more often for consumers who wish to slowly sip on spirits such as whiskey and bourbon, savoring the flavors and aromas of the brands they have invested in.
For June 2020, the household was low on clear ice options. After buying in 40 pound blocks, it's hard to go back to a routine of making your own four cubes at a time. With MA in Phase 3 of opening, I should be able to restock the clear ice this month! Looking forward to it just in time for the hot Boston weather.
Welcome to the show!
ClearIce.Life is maintained by Trapper Markelz in pursuit of elevated cocktail experiences at home, and with friends.
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