Bartending History - Ice & The Boston Ice King!

Ice in cocktail bars is an essential almost 'secret' ingredient that is largely overlooked by both guests as well as the bartenders themselves. Very often we take things for granted & 'as they are' when it comes to ice in our drinks & even though we assume we know what we're talking about or understand the fundamental importance of ice there is a lot to consider. What is the difference between serving a drink on the rocks, an ice block, over crushed ice or even blended? One of the biggest enemies of ice is glassware as as result of 'just trying to make the glass full' by topping up with crushed ice or blending until the 'wash-line' looks good. Of course this is fascinating subject for the geeky bartender that we can definitely look into later in our 'Better Bartender series' today I'd like to bring it way back to the history of ice in general.


Ice was one of the original supercar, mega-yacht or expensive champagne show-off things expensive hotels or establishments(mainly hotels) used to show status. A very good example of this is when the Ritz-Carlton first opened in Havana they wanted to offer the European travellers a taste of Cuba's favourite cocktail - The Mojito - BUT they had to find a way to stand out of the crowd of bars serving the drink all over the city. So the Ritz opted to use crushed ice instead of cubed ice in their Mojito's with the thought process that the more ice in your drink is equivalent to having more money ergo a higher social status. I have to point out that all of this was during a time of a lack of commercial ice-machines being available. So lots of ice that was available in Cuba actually shipped there by a man also known as Frederic Tudor aka The Boston Ice King.