As the saying goes, “what’s old is new again.” It’s funny how things go out of style and come back around over time. Take ice, for example.
Back in the not-so-distant past, ice was big business. In the 1800s, New Englanders Frederick Tudor and Nathaniel Wyeth revolutionized the ice industry by reducing the loss of ice from 66% to 8% with more efficient holding and shipping methods. Tudor, who became known as the “Ice King,” even focused on shipping ice to tropical climates. At the peak of the ice industry, an estimated 90,000 employees generated $28 million in sales ($660 million in 2010 terms).
By 1879, there were 35 commercial ice plants in America, and that number ballooned to 2,000 by 1909. Simultaneously, breweries in the United States were starting to use cooling systems, and by the 1920s, refrigerators became an essential appliance for every kitchen. By 1950, more than 80 percent of American farms and 90 percent of urban homes had a refrigerator. This made the once-thriving ice industry in America all but obsolete.
Fast forward to 2015, when you can now buy specialty ice for your bars and restaurants. A lot of places are even making their own specialty ice cubes to create that perfect cocktail. The first time I heard about someone making a special ice cube for a drink, I had to ask: Is there really a difference? Well, for years I have been telling people that some wines are better than others. My belief is that the wine I enjoy is based on taste and not much else. The same should be true for a cocktail, right?
Once I heard this “ice makes a difference” thing, it got me thinking. I drink a simple drink: Vodka on the rocks or maybe an after-dinner cocktail. Well, I started to notice that at some bars, the vodka tasted better. Was it because of the people I was around? The ambiance of the bar? A different brand of vodka? Nope, it was the ice. One big cube vs. several small cubes. Filtered water vs. non-filtered. Clear ice vs. cloudy ice. It all had an effect on my standard vodka rocks.
Here’s the science behind it: Several pieces of ice in a drink create more surface contact, which in turn melts more water and dilutes the drink faster than one large ice cube. That’s why larger ice cubes are used in traditional sipping drinks like in an Old Fashioned.
How are restaurant owners reaping the rewards of this “designer” ice? Some places are making their own ice by using silicone forms or other molds, setting their freezer right below 32°F and slowly freezing over several days (this keeps the ice clear, by the way). Flavor-infused ice is being created with spices such as cinnamon and anise. Bars and restaurants that have the space are still getting ice delivered in 300-pound blocks that they cut down on-site to add that unique “snowflake” effect to ice in their drinks.
So how can an establishment that uses this “high-end ice” store and protect their investment? Randell FX Series commercial refrigeration is the perfect vehicle for storage of ice at any location. The FX Series drawer holds perfect temperatures so you can hold your ice right below freezing and it won’t melt until you want it to because it doesn’t get exposed to ambient conditions until you remove it from the drawer.
It’s not a refrigerator, it’s not a freezer … it’s an FX, and you can only get it through Randell at Unified Brands. Find out how the Randell FX Series precise-holding refrigeration models and discover how it can help you protect your investment.