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How Instagram Sparked the Clear-Ice Trend

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In 2012, if you’d seen Scott Beattie brandishing a chainsaw outside Napa’s Goose & Gander, you might have wondered if the barkeeper had lost his mind. But in his quest to serve clear ice in rocks cocktails at the bar, Beattie had acquired huge slabs of sculpture ice, which he then cut down to blocks with a chainsaw. Very carefully. Then, bartenders would hand chop these into double-rocks size for each drink behind the bar. The company he bought the ice from has adapted to bars’ demands over the past decade and now delivers its ice in more manageable three-inch blocks. “Which is great, you know, because we had a very safe way of chainsawing the ice down, but it’s still a chainsaw,” Beattie says.

Block ice like this is frozen completely clear through directional freezing, usually using one of a few commercially available machines purpose-designed, at that time, to supply ice for sculptures. But bartenders serving carefully constructed cocktails with hand-cut ice in neo-speakeasies began adopting clear ice both for its aesthetic qualities, but also because the cloudiness found in conventional ice from air bubbles causes it to melt faster. So beyond being photo ready, denser clear ice has a much slower dilution rate. Beattie says he saw block ice being used in Tokyo bars and this might have put the idea in his head.