These days, the hottest thing in drinks is the ice. You heard me. They call it artisanal ice, i.e., fancy ice. Rather than regular ice, like the kind you’ve had in your glass since you were a kid, they now have frozen water, shaped carefully. You pay extra to have it. Sounds about right. By the way, “shaped carefully” means perfect cubes, rectangles and the occasional sphere.
We now have restaurants and bars advertising that they have an “ice program” to accompany their “cocktail program.” I’m just going to cut to the chase. What kind of hoity-toity snob needs an ice program and cocktail program before they settle on where to quench their thirst? Really? I can’t imagine that “bartender” is a sufficient enough term in such a place. Maybe a “libation program artist” is a better title. My gag reflex is at full tilt.
I’m not suggesting that artisanal ice has become pervasive. As an example, fancy ice is in short supply at my favorite watering holes. Heck, ice, plain ol’ ice, could be a problem in some corner bars. You know the place. They have beer — cold most of the time. Shots are available — no ice required. There’s still a jar of hard-boiled eggs on the counter and Gus’ Pretzels in a paper bag on the back bar. Ask for fancy ice in this place, and you get a handful of shuffleboard sawdust in the face.
My mom and dad passed before the world started paying for water in a bottle. I can’t imagine the looks on their faces if they knew that their son buys water in a bottle when it is free in thousands of places. So much for the high-priced education they forked up for me years ago. What would they think if they knew that freezing the water into shapes — mostly square or rectangular like the ice that comes out of your refrigerator, only with less of an arc — is being paid for without hesitation? Such a phenomenon would confirm for them what their fear was as I was growing up — the world has indeed gone mad.
There is a cottage industry in supplying fancy ice. Some entrepreneurs are getting $3.70 for a sphere of ice (1 piece), and 70 cents on average per 2”x2” cube. Apparently, profits are thin, but they do exist, which means that demand exists. How much is a drink that requires a $3.70 piece of ice? I’ll never know.
I like a frosted glass with my non-alcohol beer (think O’Doul’s). Here’s a prediction. There will be a method created by which the frosted beer glass will retain its frost for an extended period of time, and for an additional cost per beer, they will personalize art on the glass specific to the buyer’s liking. Here’s another prediction. The guy or gal who does the “artisanal frost” will go broke. After all, the additional cost for artwork cuts into one’s Gus’ Pretzel money. That’ll be $2, please — money well spent.