The Finer Things: The Ice Age

–Douglas Bennett

Ice Age: demanding a new era of cubes

Frozen water: an invention that predates all other inventions, an invention that predates man. Found in nature in the form of glaciers, bergs, caps, sleet, and lakes. Found in beverages in the form of cubes. While the history of ice takes us back too far to remember, the history of ice cubes begins in 1914 with the invention of refrigeration and the very first ice cube tray. Soon to follow were automated ice cube machines; however compared with the world around them, ice cubes have seen very little innovation throughout history.

Change is imminent.

The most devastating ice cube situation arises when upon pouring a tall glass of my favorite 20 year old single-malt scotch (or small-batch Kentucky bourbon), I reach into my ice box only to pull out hemispherically shaped ice cubes full of cloudy inclusions. Don’t panic. Inclusions are naturally formed air pockets in ice that was frozen too rapidly. The hemisphere or half-moon shapes are just remnants of poorly shaped/designed ice cube trays and a history of stagnant ice cube innovation controlled by stingy corporations. Alas, I am disgusted and discard my scotch immediately. All it needs is a perfectly clear cube that is actually shaped like a cube. How hard can that be you ask?

The building blocks of clear cube-making are found in nature. Think back to the last time you watched a perfectly clear icicle being formed. The ice comprising the icicle freezes in layers upon layers, very slowly. The slow layering allows for air pockets to escape before they are frozen in the ice. Most ice cube machines today are impatient, hastily forming air pocket-riddled ice cubes, cloudy and unusable. Clear ice cube makers use distilled water and replicate the natural layering process of clear icicles. However, makers like these are difficult to come by today.

Thus, today’s bad ice must be easily identifiable. This easy identification would in turn cause demand for New Age Clear Cubes. Solution: hold ice cube makers responsible with an ice ratings system.

I draw a parallel between ice (the water) and ice (the rock). Ice cubes and diamonds. Of course, there is the obvious conventional nomenclature: referring to diamonds as “ice” and the more progressive, less common reference of ice as “diamonds.” The reason why few people call ice “diamonds” is that 99 percent of today’s cubes are inclusion-ridden, poorly-cut, and cloudy. On the commonly-known AGS (American Gem Society) rating scales for diamonds, today’s ice cubes would be so far off the charts you couldn’t even refer to them as diamonds. You couldn’t call them cubic zirconium either.

Here is what I propose: hold the ice cube makers to a new standard, a standard enforceable by AGS ratings. Some may argue for bigger ice or smaller ice for different drinks. Some even say the half-moon shaped ice is better for stack-ability. Fine, just use the rating system. Consumers can only then start accurately assessing ice cubes. Only with this accurate assessment will there be the much-needed ice cube innovation. Machines that can’t compete will be out of luck.

“I’d like a Manhattan on the rocks, 1.13 Ct Cube F SI1, AGS ideal cut, stirred please”

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