Food News

New Uptown Cocktail Den Boasts 3,000-Year-Old Ice

Yesterday on the Eats Blog, Leslie Brenner published a blog post about an yet-to-be named bar to be opened by Michael Martensen and Brian Williams, who own Cedars Social. The duo made news last October when they announced a new oyster bar, dubbed the Establishment, which was slated to open this past December in Uptown.

The Establishment is now expected to open in late February, but the big news that came out yesterday was the additional concept slated for the same space. While we wait for the name, a few details about the mixology we can expect at this new bar are trickling out, including the 3,000-year-old ice they plan to offer up in their cocktails.

If you haven't heard of the concept, glacial ice is touted for its extreme density and purity. Thousands of years and geographic pressure combine to form ice that's so dense it melts more slowly than the cheap stuff you buy at your corner market. The age helps with purity, too, at least as far as the marketing goes. Water frozen multiple millennium ago is free from the atmospheric taints of the industrial revolution. And the hisses and pops you hear as your custom ice cube melts at a glacial pace? Yes, that's pristine air from a lost age.

There's more. The product is so pure and dense, it's as clear as crystal and nearly invisible while floating in a cocktail like a tiny prehistoric iceberg.

The trend isn't new. The New York Times published an article in 1988 about an emerging market in premium glacial ice. Luxury ice has been popular in Japan for decades, and bars in New York and LA have jumped into the game as ice dealers like Névé and Hundredweight make the product more accessible. The market is so lucrative ice poachers have sprung up and begun to destroy protected glaciers in Chile and elsewhere. (Martensen says he's getting his ice from a reputable source.)

What's all this high-end ice gonna cost? Martensen says he still needs to run the numbers, just like any restaurant might when considering new ingredient costs, but he envisions the pedigreed cubes as an upgrade to be offered with fine spirits. After all, how can you spend $25 on a fine single malt and then trash it with a substandard ice cube? Thankfully, I drink my scotch neat. But I wonder if they'll sell me ultra-pure water I can add to my whiskey a drop at a time?