For many, ice is just frozen water. Yet, for a growing number of people, it’s becoming much more than that. In fact, as the New York Times recently reported, we appear to be in the midst of a new ice age.
No more is designer ice an insider trend exclusive to high-brow mixologists with access to pricy equipment and bespoke services. Over the past few months, armchair ice enthusiasts have taken to TikTok to show off freezers full of specialty ice molds lined with fruit-infused cubes, garnering millions of likes under the hashtag #icetok.
@kaelimaee cute surprise at the end🤍 ib @K A M I #fyp #foryoupage #asmr #asmrsounds #satisfying #organize #ice #icedrawer #shapedice #kitchen #home #restock ♬ original sound - kaeli mae
Oversized square cubes have been the ice du jour in the cocktail world for several years in cities like San Francisco—where neighborhood watering holes like Gambit Lounge in Hayes Valley and Finders Keepers in Nob Hill make their own.
But now, the dominant trends focus on eye-catching shapes and colors. Specialty molds create immaculate, small cubes, pebble-shaped nuggets and frozen spheres. Ice takes on an otherworldly rainbow glow when water is combined with food coloring or fresh juice with fruit or flowers suspended within it.
Some next-level ice fanatics invest in designer ice machines. Bar Nonnina, the hidden bar inside Fiorella’s Inner Sunset location, serves a Lambrusco red wine slushy with shaved ice from a Japanese ice machine.
In March and April, Turntable at Lord Stanley, a Michelin-rated modern European eatery-turned-pop-up space in Polk Gulch, will showcase a limited menu of cocktails chilled with artfully filled ice cubes.
Catherine O’Brien, Turntable at Lord Stanley’s general manager, told The Standard that specialty ice is one of her favorite new ways to gussy up a simple drink. She recommends “Le Spritz”—a cocktail that combines Le Sot de L'Ange red vermouth, Cocchi Americano aromatized wine and lemon juice topped with sparkling rosé pet nat and garnished with large cubes filled with fresh flowers and herbs.
“You can order a cocktail that suits your tastes, but when you receive something that is beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, it turns into more of an experience than just another beverage,” O’Brien said.
Questions, comments or concerns about this article may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org