Nice Ice, Baby

Cool off your cocktail with one of these inventive icy concoctions.


The staff at the Oak Barrel reduces 4-foot Olmsted Ice blocks with a chainsaw to 4-inch cubes, then uses a Drinksology Ice Ball Maker to press each square as it melts into a globe about the size of a baseball. Plop one of those guys — used in all double pours of the restaurant's 150 different whiskeys — into a rocks glass, and the Barrel Aged Old-Fashion's ($13, middle on pg. 65) Maker's Mark, barrel-aged bitters, muddled oranges, amarena cherries and sugar cubes happily mingle. "We sometimes get two rounds using the same ball because they melt so slowly," says chef Demetrios Atheneos. 5975 Canal Road, Valley View, 216-520-3640,


At the helm of Society Lounge's ice program is the Kold-Draft system — it's like what a Vitamix is to the kitchen — whose upside-down freezing system produces square-sided 1 1/4- inch cubes. Director of operations Joseph Frederickson then puts ice into a burlap sack before grabbing a large wooden mallet to break it. The crushed shards help dilute and chill powerful concoctions such as the Zombie ($12, right on pg. 65) — 3-ounces of Bacardi Anejo, pineapple, lemon and lime juices, brown sugar simple syrup and aromatic bitters. "It's not about filling the glass. It's about the desired effect," he says. 2063 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, 216-781-9050,


Bartenders at Toast pop 2-inch ice cubes into sippers such as the Jockey Full of Bourbon ($11, left on pg. 65), so you can slow dance with the Four Roses, Luxardo Maraschino, lemon juice, cherry bitters and brandied cherries. Tap water meets light blue silicone trays — each of which holds six cubes — that spend the night in household Frigidaires. The resulting square's sharp edges and larger surface area resist melting, meaning the drink stays undiluted. "We'll likely have the 2-by-4 inch pillars in the spring, too," says owner Jillian Davis. 1365 W. 65th St., Cleveland, 216-862-8974,


Michael Nowak, chef and owner of the Black Pig, hammers and chisels away at a 240-pound block of bubble and impurity-free Olmsted Ice to create 2-inch cubes. "Ice is an ingre- dient," Nowak says. "It not only chills and dilutes the drink, but is a garnish." Enjoy the fruits of his hard work in the Columbus Hustla' ($10), where the clarity of the zero-degree glacier, bobbing in a rocks glass, pierces the bright-red mixture of Watershed Distillery gin, Lillet Blanc, Antica, house grenadine and cranberry bitters. 1865 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-862-7551,


Winks Bar and Grille fills a gallon-sized jug halfway with water, then infuses it with the aromas of bison grass and applewood sawdust using a smoking gun. The flavors, just one of three the restaurant makes, merge for 14 minutes before the mix is poured into pans and frozen. The smoky and sweet vanilla ice is added to the Buffalo Trace, Chartreuse, simple syrup, drunk cherries and whiskey-aged bitters that make the Red Buffalo ($7). "I think people have overlooked ice as an important player in craft cocktails," says mixologist Vanessa Morrison. 1301 E. Ninth St., Cleveland, 216-297-4490,

 Click here to see how these icy creations play with cocktails
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