Ice follies

Photo credit: Martin Kouprie

This picture features a glass of iceberg-cooled scotch my husband drank earlier this summer in Newfoundland. While Martin loved this drink experience, I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that it never crossed his mind to have iceberg chunks shipped to our home in Ontario. That would be crazy, right?

After reading a few recent articles, I’m not so sure everyone reading my blog will agree. If the recent news about ice cube aficionadoism is the tip of a trend iceberg, then harvesting and selling glacial and ice floe ice may not be such a far-fetched idea after all.

Early last spring I wrote in my Topline Trends newsletter about ice aficionados who covet the disc-shaped ice chips available at quick service restaurants in the US such as Sonic and Taco Time. At these restaurants a glass of tap water is free of charge but a cup of ice cubes will cost $1 or more.

I thought this was pretty silly stuff but now I learn from a recent NY Times article that the ice snobbery trend is accelerating. From bottled ice to consumer awareness of branded cube makers such as Kold-Draft ice makers (which produces ice in three unique forms) and Hoshizaki machine (which can flake or cube ice in various sizes).

As result, ice is now a product that, at least for a select and privileged few, has gained an element of connoisseurship.

When I received a sample of Ice Rocks almost two years ago, I thought this product would be pretty much impossible to sell except as a novelty but now, I wonder if I was wrong.

What about you? Do you have strong ice preferences? Do you go for cubed or crushed? Do you chew it, suck it or let it melt in your drink? Go ahead, take the plunge and reveal your frozen water secrets.

12 Responses to Ice follies

  1. adrian says:

    Et tu, Dana?
    We’ve discussed the recent trend to ice snobbery off-line and you know how ridiculous I think it is but I’ve heard from friends who are quietly coming out of the closet: they’re squeamish about fridge smells, chemical leakage from plastic trays, cloudy drinks. I thought soft-serve ice-cream was the new cupcakes, but it could be ice-cubes.
    (By the way, Oxo sells a ice-cube tray, with a lid, to help with fridge smells. They’re at the Bay)
    And I’m very disappointed that Martin would put ice near his scotch – Michael Jackson (no, not that one) recommends fridge-temperature filtered water, but never ice.

    p.s. I know I’m painfully politically and environmentally correct, but does anyone else cringe at the idea of using the disintegrating ice-caps to chill our drinks?

  2. Got to agree with Adrian. Ice-cap ice cubes is environmentally wrong.

    I like the idea of the lidded ice cube tray since cubes can pick up freezer flavours, but honestly, do you have to use water trekked from Nepal or Antarctica?

    As for your husband’s scotch? Many single malts “cannot withstand the assault of the ice.” I am quoting now-retired Master of the Quaich Anthony Burnet. He was speaking of Glenmorangie single malt. Perhaps your husband was drinking a blend?

  3. Jen says:

    Lovely pic but inquiring minds must know: How did Martin drink the Scotch with the ice protruding from the rim of the glass like that? I think that would bug me. You’d bump your nose into the ‘berg every time you took a sip, no? And it’d make it difficult to get a sip of the drink. What a tease!

    But seriously…or not-so-seriously, really. There’s an iceberg in that glass? Hmm…that’s interesting. I’m sure iceberg ice is refreshing but for me, if the ice looks, smells and tastes clean it gets my approval. My fridge has one of those automatic ice maker thingies and I don’t like the way the ice smellls or tastes. I don’t think it’s absorbing smells from other foods in the freezer and as far as I know, the water line to the fridge is fine. Anyone else have malodorous ice issues?

    Ice, ice, baby! (Sorry, I had to!)

  4. danamccauley says:

    I started out writing a defence of the ice cap scotch cubes but changed my mind since I wasn’t there and I don’t have my facts straight.

  5. Martin Kouprie says:

    Environmental Correctness is a big important issue to me. Very few restauranteurs in Toronto have a practice with as many levels for a sustainable environmentally sensitive approach as we do. We work hand in hand with the Vancouver Aquarium for our seafood selection (100% certified by Ocean Watch), we work with the local farming community for our seasonal produce including meats, and draw from a network of independent foragers for the hidden gems in our forests and fields. We offer our guests carbon filtered tap water and only use bottled water by request (we are phasing out our bottled water sales).

    Now about chilling my drink with some ice off an iceberg. Anyone who has been along the coast of Newfoundland knows that good Scotch is really hard to find. What you do find, Michael Jackson (not the singer but the scotch guy) wouldn’t even wash his car with. I mean the stuff is crap so you need ice to take the edge off of it. Next, these icebergs where floating past us all day and I said hey I can use some of that in my drink! (I didn’t go to some continental glacier and chip away at it to begin with) I mean you do the math: bad scotch + good ice=happiness.

    Now remember I didn’t club baby seals who got between me and the iceberg so that I could tow one and melt it down en mass and sell the water commercially. That would be bad. I’m simply using what nature has given me freely without adding to the carbon footprint (it’s totally off the grid!!).

    In fact taking that small piece of ice out of the Atlantic Ocean may have saved thousands of lives (butterfly effect) by not allowing the influx of its cooling water to change the ocean current which could have increased the risk of a hurricane forming and destroying lives and property. Touché!

  6. danamccauley says:

    It’s true that freezing water and keeping it frozen until you need it , does use a lot of energy.

    Martin: Sorry to open up so much criticism of your ‘cool’ drink. I know how committed you are to sustainability and the evironment and I never would have used your photo and your diving vacation story if I’d known it was going to lead to you being scrutinized negatively. I was (and still am) making fun of all the people willing to pay money for ‘special’ ice.

    And, I figure that anyone who will swim with ice burgs can and should be allowed to take a little to chill their drink. People who want to harvest that same ice to sell = different story. I really don’t think that many of us would brave ice cold water to get kitchen ice and that the burgs are safe.

    Also, since i share a bank account with Martin, I also know that he knows good scotch well and I’ll cut him some slack about icing his drink, too. t

    By the way, for any readers interested in scotch, you might like to read about the Scotch Tasting Martin and I hosted last spring:

  7. adrian says:

    I bet when Martin took that photo he didn’t think the entire blogosphere would be come crashing down on him. He probably needs a good Scotch now.
    To be fair: if there’s an iceberg floating by, I don’t even think Al Gore would resent you chipping a bit off for your drink. It’s the ice snobs who are importing the stuff to an urban metropolis and then triple-distilling it before making geometric mini ice-sculptures in suv-sized freezers who worry me.

  8. Cheryl says:

    When I was in the Peace Corps in Eritrea (East Africa), we had some friends from California who couldn’t wait to get back home to go to 7-11 and have their Cokes with crushed ice. I thought this was the nuttiest thing I’d ever heard. I missed a lot of things about the comforts of the modern, industrialized world, but crushed ice wasn’t one of them.

    Ice just doesn’t do it for me. In fact, I prefer my drinks room termperature! (Sensitive teeth and gums, I suppose…)

    Martin, don’t feel attacked. I personally have no beef with you at all, and your scotch looks very refreshing.

  9. Interesting concept. I still haven’t gotten over drinking water from bottles…wink…wink…

  10. Peter Moenickheim says:

    In addition to Ice Rocks, there is a product called aquaICE. Their approach is to purify the water not use spring water. They are also coming out with flavored versions such as lemon and lime. Granted it’s a bit over the top. But where water quality or taste is not so hot or in a drink in Mexico, it makes sense to me.

  11. Candace says:

    Sheesh! The crazy things people will spend money on… This reminds me of the bottled water for dogs I saw the other day… I don’t know about most dogs, but mine lick their butts and try to drink out of puddles. This makes me think they would not appreciate bottled water.

    I would guess the people who buy icebergs for their drinks are also buying bottled water for dogs. I need to invent something like this… I’d corner the market and take over the world ::insert evil laugh here:: 😛

  12. danamccauley says:

    Candace, I wrote about the fortified water for dogs earlier this year. You might find this post a good read, too:

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