Greetings Google Reader,
I just wanted to put my two cents out into the world on the market state of craft cocktail ice or (Artisan Ice Cubes). Is it a Fad or is it here to stay?
1st let me just say i’m a C+ student blogger, my writing style is how I speak with a southern drawl and sub par grammar so I do apologize for any grammatical issues found below!!!
Back in 2011 when I was working for a small company in the south as the “warehouse guy”. (yes I was super duper important), we had a request come across the order board for 2” cubes. At first I thought it was a joke. My then boss Gary said “no really there is a night club that wants 200 crystal clear ice cubes and that’s it”. Being I had only made ice sculptures this seemed very odd to me. “Why would they waster their money? Ice is Ice!!!”. It’s not that I was shocked someone wanted to put clear ice in a glass, it was the fact that someone was willing to pay $.50 per cube! I mean the average cocktail price in our city was $6 maybe so someone spending almost 10% of the cost for a what honestly felt more like a garnish seemed insane. Selling frozen water for a living already seemed like one of the most ridiculous career choices available which is probably halfway why I was drawn to it. That request ended up being the beginning of the FAD phase of the industry. This period of time was ice sculpture companies all experiencing the same feelings and confusion. Ice Sculpting businesses are not generally directly linked to the mixology and craft cocktail network so we were all a bit dumb founded. Sure you can find examples of this trend in early markets from NYC and other large cities but for me personally that was day 2011 was the year it bleeped on radar.
Fast forward to 2013 when Ice Lab opened its doors. It would seem we were getting this odd request on a regular basis making it less odd and more of a “well I guess this is a thing for now”. To be honest I still thought it was just everyone playing copy cat to the trendy, upscale bars first to introduce this invisible floating water levy. I was very wrong! We have since seen companies popup that solely sale cocktail ice. What kind of madness is this! As a business owner I would feel a little nervous having all my eggs in this basket but we have only seen growth over 5 years in this line of items so I suppose it is less and less risky.
Something I had to address in this blog is the advertising strategies. I’ve seen companies advertise that large pieces of clear craft ice reduces the dilution in you glass, melts much slower blah blah blah but lets get it straight… it’s just something visually cool and whether or not it sticks around as an industry standard remains to be seen. I do not think it will forever change the cocktail but it’s a fun period for it! The FAD phase will most likely not go anywhere anytime soon, but I think it to be very possible that folks eventually get sick of getting bonked on the nose everytime they take a sip. National distribution is every ice companies dream but shipping ice is financially crazy. It’s heavy and packaging is 1/3 your cost! Your best bet as a bartender or restaurant manager is to find a reputable company near you and make it happen.
Let’s all collectively check back in 5 years from now and see if we have moved into the industry standard phase. If you read this… who are you and what are your thoughts on the trends?
Casey Lee Conner ( Owner ) Ice Lab Ice Sculptures, Inc.