Photos: Making Craft Ice With Mike Ryan
Let's talk about ice - cut, clarity and consistency. Like diamonds, these gems of the beverage industry can be things of beauty. They might not last forever, but in the hands of ice expert Mike Ryan, they can redefine the drinking experience. Along with partners Rosanna Lloyd and Nicole Heigh, Ryan recently launched a new company called Just Ice Inc. They're cranking out cool cubes of perfectly translucent, crystal clear oversized ice that is perfect for shaken and stirred cocktails.
The start-up operates out of a West Side warehouse known as the Fortress of Solitude, and was born out of necessity. With increasingly more cocktail bars in the city, the demand for quality ice has risen. Currently, many bars hand chip chunks of ice for stirred cocktails - a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Bars like Sable, where Ryan works, can go through hundreds of cocktails a night, and speed is just as important as quality. Just Ice cuts out the dirty work by making large batches of clear cubes and selling them at 65 cents a pop. The ice does not have any of the deformities, air pockets or cracks that common ice suffers from, which means it melts slower and doesn't dilute cocktails. An Old Fashioned will taste relatively the same from the first sip to the last sip when chilled on Ryan's rocks.
To learn how this hot commodity is created and turned into very cool cocktails, we spent a day making ice in the Just Ice warehouse, then sampled the goods in Ryan's iced-out cocktails.
Photos by Nick Murway