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By Korinne Munson | Photo: Jason Dewey | February 12, 2013
Artisan ice is the key to cool cocktails.
In Aspen, we usually raise a glass to snow, the promise of powder or its welcome arrival, but two local watering holes are raising the bar for craft cocktails by raising their glasses to ice. Both Jimmy’s and Justice Snow’s have elevated their bar programs with handcrafted cubes, giving their drinks a superior chill and aesthetic appeal.
Jimmy Yeager of Jimmy’s has a freezer in his garage—not the typical man-fridge packed with microbrews, but a sophisticated system of water purification and circulation designed to ensure the 300-pound blocks of ice he makes are both crystal-clear and flavorless. He and his staff saw the giant blocks into 3-inch cubes, which are used as is or are further transformed barside by loading them into a brass mold—the heavy bell-like contraption pulls the heat from a block of ice and melts it into a perfect sphere in just 30 seconds.
So why all of this extra effort for ice? Yeager says it’s a question of both taste and presentation. “It’s a clean, pure flavor, a more consistent chill, and it just looks sexy.” When they place your order at Jimmy’s, if your favored brand is a premium one, the bartender will call for a no-extra-cost custom cube by hitting what they call the BFIC button—we’ll give you a hint, the B stands for big; you take it from there…
At Justice Snow’s, it’s not just about the craft ice, says Joshua Peter Smith, but also the water it produces. “I don’t get people who take their cocktails neat; most spirits are designed to open up with a little bit of water,” he says. Sipping a premium liquor or liqueur feels even more luxurious at Snow’s when you realize your rough-hewn cube or sphere has literally been carved by hand
As usual, Aspen is right on trend; ice
has become an essential ingredient, and not just an afterthought, with top mixologists at the world’s most celebrated bars and restaurants. Celebrity-chef Daniel Boulud has featured a serious ice program for years at his restaurants, and, at Daniel, his flagship namesake in New York, Boulud even goes a step further, freezing a single purple orchid in an icy orb for his white cosmopolitan.
So to take your favorite libation to the next level, head to Jimmy’s or Justice Snow’s and try it with artisan ice. One caveat, though, with melting at a minimum, it will pack even more punch than usual.