Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ice Harvesting in TriBeCa

The cocktail world's obsession with ice just took a big step forward. Soon, no bar owner will be able to hold his head up if not equipped with their own ice works.

Here's an item I wrote on the new Weather Up in Tribeca for the Times' Diner's Journal:

TriBeCa Bar Will Have Its Own Iceworks
Weather Up, Kathryn Weatherup’s latest eponymously named cocktail bar — set to open at 159 Duane Street in TriBeCa in early November — is one saloon that will never have to send out for ice.
“We’re going to be the first bar on the East Coast of the United States that is doing in-house ice harvesting and production,” said partner Richard Boccato. Whether that’s precisely true or not, as any cocktail aficionado knows, ice — its purity, its size, its shape — is of paramount importance to the modern mixologist. The ice-works will be in the basement, but chunks of the cold stuff will be on display through the bar, cut into pieces by “bandsaw, chainsaw, chisels, hammers, and other torture devices,” as Mr. Boccato put it.
The ice machine is called the Clinebell CB300X2 Carving Block Ice Maker, and costs $6,000. According to Mr. Boccato, it produces two 300-pound blocks of crystal clear ice every three to four days through a slow-freezing cycle. A pump mounted inside the machine’s cabinets circulates the water, thus preventing impurities from freezing into the block, and as well as the formation of troublesome oxygen bubbles and striations which make carving difficult.
“Essentially this ice freezes in the same fashion as natural ice freezes in a lake — from the bottom up,” Mr. Boccato said. “Once the cycle is finished, excess water and impurities are removed from the top of the block prior to harvesting by use of a common wet and dry vacuum. The blocks are then broken down to suit our needs.”
The ice will come in handy chilling the daily selection of oysters and caviar. “It’s basically the best way to put salt in your body,” said Matthew Maddy, another partner in the venture, and one of the founders of No. 7 in Fort Greene. (For the more prosaically hungry, there will be French fries.) Ms. Weatherup and Mr. Maddy founded the original Weather Up (pictured), in Prospect Heights, in 2008. At the time, it was one of the first high-end cocktail joints to brave the Brooklyn scene. Both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bars will share the same vaulted ceiling of white ceramic tiles.
“Because this is a bigger, more complicated project,” said Mr. Maddy, “we wanted to bring in some friends and family.” That includes Tyler Kord, the chef at No. 7; and Mr. Boccato, an owner of Dutch Kills in Long Island City and a fierce proponent of the kind of classic pre-Prohibition cocktails the TriBeCa Weatherup will serve.
The bar will open daily at 3 p.m., offering six to eight draft lines, a selection of wines and an array of martinis and manhattans — what Mr. Boccato calls a “warm-up” cocktail list, made to accompany the oysters. Other cocktails will be available as the day wears on.

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