The ice scene in New York should get pretty interesting in the next few months. Many cocktail bars have made quality ice an issue in recent years. But they've taken on the matter themselves, either finding and creating their own custom ice or buying a Kold Draft machine. But now Sasha Petraske and Richard Boccato and the gang at Dutch Kills have created their very own ice company, hoping to sell ice not just to themselves, but their friends and colleagues' bars. On top of this, I know of another entity, just as well connected in cocktail circles, which will be launching a custom ice company this summer. Ice War!
Here's my New York Times article:
Ice With a Pedigree
By Robert Simoson
Anyone who has patronized Dutch Kills, the cocktail bar in Long Island City, Queens, has probably noticed the showy supporting role ice plays in its drinks. Long frozen spears skewer highballs.
Paperweight-size cubes weigh down rocks glasses. For other drinks, bartenders hack away at microwave-oven-size blocks, hewing custom chunks perfectly suited to each cocktail. Now, the Dutch Kills team will be exporting their vision of frozen water beyond Queens.
Sasha Petraske, Richard Boccato and Ian Present, who own and operate Dutch Kills, along with Zachary Gelnaw-Rubin, who has been a bartender since the saloon opened in May 2009, have together founded Hundredweight Ice and Cocktail Services, with Mr. Boccato, Mr. Present and Mr. Gelnaw-Rubin acting as the operational core of the outfit. Hundredweight will operate out of the same industrial building that Dutch Kills calls home.
“The other side of the building has been vacant since we moved in a couple years ago,” Mr. Boccato said. “We always had our eyes on those rooms.” The company has bought two pricey Clinebell CB300X2 Carving Block Ice Maker machines, with another one on the way. The machines produce two 300-pound blocks of pristine ice every three to four days through a slow-freezing cycle.
While companies that provide ice to bars are hardly a new idea, Hundredweight will focus specifically on high-end, custom ice beloved by the creators of craft cocktails. “I believe we are the first of our ilk in New York to say that this is our m.o.,” he said, “to make this kind of ice for cocktail bars.” Hundredweight’s first customer is, natch, Dutch Kills. The company is also in talks with Milk & Honey, Mr. Petraske’s neo-speakeasy on the Lower East Side, and has reached out to the prominent cocktail consultancies like Contemporary Cocktails and aka wine geek, as well as the mixed drink conventions Tales of the Cocktail, in New Orleans, and Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Mr. Boccato’s newly opened bar, Tribeca Weatherup, which he runs with Kathryn Weatherup and Matthew Maddy, will not be a client; last fall, Mr. Boccato made the bar ice self-sufficient by installing a Clinebell machine.
Without revealing specific numbers, Mr. Boccato said that the prices at Hundredweight would be “extremely reasonable,” and that the company would work with any bar to create ice that suits their purposes and glassware. Want to festoon your drinks with ice spheres or diamonds? It can be done. But if you are having a wedding or a bar mitzvah and are looking for a decorative sculpture, look elsewhere.
“No penguins,” Mr. Boccato said.