More Than Just a Pretty Cube

Article originally written for and appeared at

It’s become evident that there is a noticeable fascination among Americans with ice, especially when it comes to craft cocktail ice. Posts shared on social media platforms rave about its crystal clear appearance and light-catching edges as it chills extravagant spirits and impeccably garnished drinks. Even images of flowers perfectly suspended in spheres of ice amass comments of amazement. Yet, does this fascinating commodity serve a purpose beyond aesthetics, particularly when it comes to the quality of your drink? Or is it merely a tactic to entice you into spending more on visually appealing beverages and cocktails?

Before delving into the questions above, it is worth taking a brief look at the history of ice. Dating back to ancient Chinese civilization, ice was first harvested from frozen streams and snow for the primary purpose of food preservation. Practices of a similar nature continued up until the 19th century when the first ice-making machine was invented. This innovation paved the way for the development of increasingly sophisticated ice-making technology, eventually culminating in the creation of the tube ice machine, which is utilized today for packaged ice, typically found at gas stations and convenience stores in 18 lb and 5 lb bags.

cocktail using Minnesota Pure Clear Ice in Minneapolis, Minnesota

However, packaged ice lacks aesthetic appeal and has a high melt factor, resulting in watered-down drinks. So, how do today’s ice producers tackle these challenges, and does it genuinely impact the quality of your drink? According to Minnesota Ice, a company based in St. Paul, the key lies in a manufacturing process that yields exceptionally clear and remarkably dense ice, that not only enhances the visual appeal of drinks but also significantly improves their taste.

Having emerged as a national leader in the manufacturing of sculpture-grade ice, Minnesota Ice has been deeply attuned to the craft cocktail ice scene since 2016. CEO and Founder, Robbie Harrell, emphasizes that their Pure & Clear™ cocktail ice serves a purpose beyond mere aesthetics in a glass. “Our cocktail ice is meticulously crafted from the same ice used for ice sculptures, which is known for its exceptional density and clarity. These defining attributes ensure that our cubes keep drinks colder for extended periods while minimizing dilution.”

Minnesota Ice - Pure & Clear retail ice

Erik Eastman, Director of Sales, highlights that Minnesota Ice offers its cocktail ice for sale at local retailers throughout the Twin Cities metro, enabling clear ice enthusiasts to craft drinks at home with the same ice their favorite bars and restaurants use. He emphasizes the importance of avoiding the use of refrigerator-made ice that has been sitting in the freezer for months, accumulating unwanted flavors, which could compromise the quality of a well-crafted cocktail.

The fascination with craft cocktail ice is not without merit. The role of clarity and density found in clear ice is unquestionably crucial in crafting a well-made cocktail, as it ensures the preservation of a drink’s intended taste profile throughout the entire drinking experience. As for whether it deserves the accolades it receives through social platforms, the answer, quite simply, is crystal clear.