Saturday, January 22, 2011

Incredible Ice

Ice cubes don't normally catch my attention. A few years ago, I was in a shochu bar in Japan with my boss, and we were served some mugi shochu on the rocks. I guess I should say, on the rock!! Glistening in our highballs was a single, perfect cube of ice, chilling the shochu and only slowly melting into it. We were very impressed. At the end of our meal, we ordered a whisky, which this time was served with a perfect sphere of ice. This is exactly the kind of thing we like to take away from our culinary trips and bring back to our own restaurant.

We found the clever plastic molds they use to make these show-stoppers. Since then, Portland bartenders have continued to impress me with their innovative ice. This time, it is by incorporating flavors into the ice that become released into the drink as they melt. Laurelhurst Market's bartender, Evan Zimmerman, has a cocktail with smoked ice cubes melting into Tennessee whisky and sherry. Beaker and Flask owner, Kevin Ludwig had a clever coconut milk ice cube melting into tropical splendor. Next time you're making cocktails at home, don't overlook the ice.

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