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!
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ClearIce.Life is maintained by Trapper Markelz in pursuit of elevated cocktail experiences at home, and with friends.
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