New Restaurant Receives a Frosty Reception

8th January 2024

Washington restaurant, Second State, opened its doors to the hungry public on the 21st October 2014. The food looked amazing, and the drinks were creative and fabulous, yet the restaurant has been regarded coolly by critics.
It seems that the choice to serve only artisanal ice is seen as pretentious and unnecessary. The decision to charge an extra $1 on top of the cost of a drink has further infuriated cocktail lovers. The surcharge is printed clearly on the cocktail menu for guests to see, and is only added on top of drinks that do not usually come on the rocks. However, the move makes it the first restaurant to charge for ice.

Bar Manager of the Second State, Phil Clarke, believes that the extra extravagance is essential to creating the perfect cocktail. The ice cubes are large, crystal clear, and melt much more slowly than normal ice. This means that the cocktail connoisseur can sip delicately at their drink, nursing it all night if necessary, without fear of their ice cubes diluting the alcohol. The cubes are designed to fit perfectly into the glass, although the restaurant spends a little time rounding the edges before they are deemed suitable for the drinks.

Clarke also insists that the extra charge is not just a money-grabbing scheme. The ice is ordered from the boutique company, Favourite Ice. The cost of purchasing and delivering the ice means that the restaurant actually loses money.

Favourite Ice supply their hand-made blocks to around 30 restaurants and caterers in the Washington area. They filter the water to remove any impurities. This takes away the minerally taste and helps to stop air bubbles forming which would make the ice cloudy. Then an ice sculpting machine, called a Clinebell, is used to create 2-300lb ice cubes. The block is then cut into smaller pieces using a meat saw. The job is uncomfortable, and slightly dangerous, as the practice sees shards of ice flying everywhere. Founder of the company, Joseph Ambrose, also complains that his hands get very cold.

The idea of custom made ice for drinks is not new. Many bars and restaurants have been using the frozen shapes. However, most bars simply build the extra cost into the price of their drinks. The Darby restaurant in New York used to charge $2 for artisanal ice. It has since closed down.

If the idea of paying extra for ice gives you a chill, then perhaps you should consider purchasing your cocktail straight up.

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Bartender's top tip

A well-chosen garnish can enhance both the flavor and appearance of your cocktail. Beyond the visual appeal, garnishes like citrus twists, olives, or cocktail onions can subtly influence the overall taste profile of your drink. Practice techniques like expressing a citrus peel to release the aromatic oils over the drink, enhancing its aroma and flavor.

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