The iceman cometh: Névé Ice's Michel Dozois talks gourmet ice in L.A.
While both The Times and the New York Times have covered the increasing importance of ice in high-end bars and restaurants, few companies have rushed to meet the demand of establishments in search of gourmet ice.
Enter Névé Ice, a new local outfit that aims to provide high-end restaurants and nightspots quality ice to augment that $15 libation.
"After ice was made available, the affluent began to make drinks with it," the Montreal-born bartender said last week. (Yes, he knows his ice, people.)
"Over time it spread to saloons and other establishments," he said, explaining that bars would receive a huge rectangular block of ice, or several, every day. Then the bartender would cut the blocks into smaller cubes with a pick and hammer. Other instruments, such as knives or spoons, were used to shape the cubes into something that fit the glass.
Dozois says restaurants (at least the ones that can afford it) are going back to those basics in increasing numbers. "Machine-made ice just causes too much dilution," he says.
A brief e-mail interview with Dozois about the importance of ice in cocktails after the jump:
When did you start Névé?
We began researching ice in October of 2007, and made our first delivery in April of 2008. We are a brand-new company, pioneering a new solution for an old way of life.
How do you make your ice?
We use a very state-of-the art process to make the ice. The process
involves the combination of art, engineering and science. In order
to protect this process, we must guard it as Coca-Cola guards their recipe.
And what about the water you use for your ice? Is it tap water?
As for the water, we use reverse osmosis and two filtration systems to get our ice as clean and clear as possible. The combination of our processes removes all impurities and chemicals that may compromise the flavor and integrity of a drink or the ice itself.
Why do you think your ice is better than machine ice?
Let's start with our Rocks and Collins cubes. These cubes are designed so that they take up 50 percent of your glass, but since it is a single cube in your glass, and not an ice scoop full of small ice cubes, the surface area is less; therefore allowing the ice less contact with liquid, therefore allowing for less dilution (less melting/less water in your drink). But since the cube is larger it will chill your cocktail more.
What is your "shaking cube" and why would anyone need a specialty cube in their cocktail?
Névé's shaking cube has no corners. Corners are the problem with ice for the simple reason that as soon as a corner hits something flat it will cause the ice cube to shatter into smaller pieces. As you have read above that creates a lot of surface area, and a lot of dilution. We also age the cubes a bare minimum of 48 hours, allowing for greater density. The same concept on temperature also applies here. The drink will be much, much colder!
Who is Névé targeting?
Névé's mission is to bring the cocktail culture of Los Angeles to the next level. We want to bring back great drinks, drinks that are healthy, balanced, enjoyable and beautiful. Whenever I create a new cocktail I always ask my guest where they feel it on their palate, with the goal being a journey around the palate, a tickling of the senses.
- Charlie Amter
Photo of one of Névé's ice cubes on fire courtesy of Michel Dozois ("We set the ice on fire to show how slowly the ice melts," he says. "If you try this experiment with any other ice cubes you will see that they melt before the fire goes out.")