What does ice have in common with women’s shoes, you ask?
Amazing! That’s been on your mind too?
In their basic form, both serve a purpose and serve it well. Shoes make feet happier; ice cubes make drinks colder. Perfect.
But both stray to the extreme. Sure a pair of platform, sling-back, strappy, open toe, 5-inch heels make legs look awesome. But those shoes aren’t made for walking and the only way my feet are happy in that style is if propped up in admirable repose. Yet these shoes are on feet everywhere.
Designer ice is everywhere too.
The first time I saw perfectly cubed ice, I thought it was unique to that bar – their special cocktail accent for their cool designer drink. But the cubes fell like dominos and bar after bar clinked artistic ice into their drinks.
I bumped into the height of ice, for both the cube and artifice, at H2 in Healdsburg, CA. They served my margarita with a single cube frozen to fit, cube edges scraping the inside curve of the glass. This was not a cube casually thrown. It was placed. No scooping. A precision maneuver involving tongs and a steady hand was necessary.
The cube rose above the rim making a normal sipping stance impossible. Could it have been a test of mouth agility or maybe sobriety? I put the glass to my lips but couldn’t get a lock on it. Acrobatics were required; lower lip on the glass outer edge, upper lip planted on the giant cube, mouth agape. The cube was too big to shift and make a margarita tidal wave, but it could spin. I was afraid to tilt the glass should cube twirl and squirt the margarita like a sprinkler from one of the four gullies where the liquid collected along the giant cube’s sides. H2 must have hoped I’d be so impressed with presentation that I’d want to keep it and not drink.
Fedora in NYC, served a margarita with three or four outsized cubes stacked in the glass so that the top cube stood over the glass by half. When I tried to sip, the cube fell into the tip of my nose. Unless you’re a seal, it’s hard to look sophisticated with an ice-cube leaning against your nose while you drink.
The same thing happened at Nobu (NYC). And what do these places have in common besides ice aesthetic? They don’t believe cocktail straws. This conundrum gave the Nobu bartender a chance to shine. He took out a pocket knife and cut a tall straw in half.
I’m left thinking artistic ice is the frozen equivalent of high heels – It looks great, it’s a statement, it’s memorable. And I know there’s more than looks behind it. Someone can probably explain how ice surface area, melt point and glass size work together to cool a drink while avoiding dilution. (And if anyone does know that, feel free to weigh in!)
But I’m pretty sure that if I have to hold an ice-cube in the glass with my nose while I drink, that ice wasn’t made for drink sipping.
Wow. Sharing really lifts a burden, doesn’t it? I think I might go shoe shopping and grab a drink.
Coming Soon: Guacamole and Margagogo’s new look.