We know well the effort, frustration, and periodically mangled fingers that go into making your own clear ice for cocktails. Most of the time, it’s worth it; large, clear cubes melt more slowly and don’t water down your drink as much as the little cloudy ones from the door of your fridge. Plus, they make for a pretty sexy-looking Old-Fashioned.
Sometimes, though, you don’t want to spend an hour preparing your favorite cocktail after work. The Tudor Ice Company, in what might be one of the most quickly-funded Kickstarter campaigns we’ve ever seen, has set out to rectify that.
It might be hard for some of us to imagine the days before modern refrigeration technology, but it wasn’t all that long ago in the grand scheme of things. The household refrigerator didn’t really exist until the 1910s, and it took a good number of years after that to become an affordable product for the average family.
Prior to that, people were reliant on companies that harvested ice in the winter and sold it to warmer climates year-round. Originally founded around the turn of the 19th century, the Tudor Ice Company was one of many that made a fortune shipping the stuff from New England to destinations as far-flung as Cuba and India.
Though the ice business has endured something of a slump over the last century, the recent explosion in popularity of craft cocktails has marked an opportunity for the brand to find a new niche. Their flagship product is an individually-packaged ice cube that’s designed to cut the hassle out of making your own.
Because it’s made from distilled water and sealed in plastic, Tudor emphasizes that their ice is essentially flavorless and completely sanitary. Apparently, they’ve even patented their own filling method that removes most of the dissolved oxygen from the water, preventing the cloudiness of standard ice and causing it to melt more slowly.
It’s been fairly impressive to see how quickly bars and individual consumers have latched onto the idea. While it won’t likely sway cocktail joints that hand-cut their ice, there may well be a market for less craft-oriented venues looking to elevate their image to match the competition.
There are, of course, a few potential issues with the product, not the least of which is the environmental concern of needing to throw away a plastic wrapper for each drink you make. Tudor has at least acknowledged that on their website, and says they’re working to make the packaging completely recyclable.
Additionally, our own experience has shown that simply using distilled water isn’t enough to produce crystal-clear ice. We’ll have to wait and see how that dissolved oxygen-reduction works in the final product—and for many drinkers, simply getting better clarity than the existing options may be plenty.
The fact that this product can succeed on Kickstarter is a testament to how far drinking culture has come in the last few decades. These days, it’s simply not good enough to be served a Negroni with low-quality crushed ice. The sophisticated set is making itself heard in the market, and the Tudor Ice Company seems to be taking advantage of it brilliantly.