Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The $8 Ice Cube

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Drinks Over Dearborn celebrating their one year anniversary and Kyle, the owner, told me about these $8 ice cubes from a company called Glace Luxury Ice (pronouned gloss - because you know - they're $8 ice cubes and the company has to be fancy like that). The 2.5 inch balls are made from purified water and are supposedly hand-carved in Canada and delivered in “elegant packaging” complete with dry ice. A pack of 5 will set you back $40 and a bag of 240 spheres is an astonishing $1440.00. According to the company website, these chunks of frozen water are "designed to occupy the top position in the premium ice market." The website also goes on to compare the product to wine and suggests, "the ice may be 'aged' for a period of three to four minutes. This aging will allow the ice to acclimate to room temperature and cause 'frost' to form on the surface." And then if that is not fantastic enough, they offer this gem, "Glace Luxury ice will "crackle' and 'spider' but it will not break apart like less deserving ice or home-made ice." Surely you knew that your ice did not deserve you.

(image via Luxury Ice Co.)

The whole idea of luxury ice harkens a time before the world went into a financial meltdown where excess was all the rage and bars were in a frantic race to see who could come up with the most ridiculous, over priced cocktail. Diamond stuffed olives anyone? You have to admit, it takes balls (hee hee) to charge $40 for a bag of something that people are used to getting for free.

Now I like to keep an open mind about these sort of things since after all, I am in the beverage business and we're not exactly known for our prudence. The fact of the matter is, ice is one of the most important ingredient in a cocktail. Without it, now matter how good the base spirit, bad ice will ruin a drink. It would be like cooking a prime piece of Kobe beef with rancid fat. The meat is doomed. Ice will also absorb odors in the freezer and pick up surrounding flavors. it me or does this gimlet taste like salmon? The shape and size of the ice can greatly influence how the drink tastes therefore bars devoted to the craft of mixology will often stock ice in several shapes: cube, block, cracked, and shaved. Shaved ice melts quickly which is great if you want to dilute your drink. Enjoying a nice whiskey or scotch? Try a big block of ice which melts at a slower rate allowing you to enjoy a more concentrated drink. Respect for ice has even spawned a new generation of ice snobs.

The Glace Luxury Ice company has decided to shape their ice in the form of a 2.5 inch sphere but this idea is not a new concept. The Japanese have been enjoying their brown spirits over hand carved ice balls for quite some time now. According to a post detailing the spherical trend in Japan in Wired Magazine earlier this year, “a 2-inch diameter ball of cold has a lower surface-area-to-volume ratio than a typical cube. That means it melts more slowly, preventing vintage hooch from warming up and getting watered down.” Check out this video of a Japanese bartender chipping out a spherical cube by hand. Now this would be worth $8!

I certainly appreciate the thought process and reasoning behind offering this product and if there are people out there who are willing to fork over the cash for it, well good for them but I'm not one of them. And why would I when I can use filtered water and make ice spheres of my own using a round ice tray? Oh, but where can I find such magical round ice trays? The MoMA store sells them for $16.


  1. I'm a bit of an ice snob but $8 ice cubes seems a bit silly. My wife laughs at me for buying the $5 bag of Chicago Classic Cubes, which are 2" square cubes that are fantastic and have that slightly decadent feel.

  2. I hear ya Alpana. $8 for one ice cube is downright crazy pants. Imagine what a place like Violet Hour would have to charge for a premium cocktail w/one of those?!? $25-$30 I'm guessing. Yikes!
    Like you, I try to keep an open mind. I dutifully listened to the "Water Sommelier" in NYC at some foo foo joint, but ultimately thought the whole thing was ridiculous.
    p.s. I totally respect you for giving this post a label of "ice balls".

  3. "Ice, my biggest profit. Just water, cold and time"

  4. To Anonymous: Just like a diamond, a chunk of coal, pressure and time.

  5. Meanwhile people are starving on the streets and losing their homes... enjoy your fancy ice.