Is fancy ice the ultimate indicator of cocktail snobbery or an essential element that transforms a good cocktail into a great one? Chicago bars are pouring thousands of dollars into elaborate ice programs that ensure every drink is not only cold, but also perfectly diluted and aesthetically pleasing, elevating the lowly ice cube to an art form.
In the age of the craft cocktails, there’s a lot to think about when ordering a drink: What type of base spirit do I want? Should it be shaken or stirred? Is it served with a banana dolphin? Does the bartender making it have a properly quaffed beard? The last thing on that checklist of imbibing essentials is often ice, yet the best bartenders know that good ice is the building block of a great cocktail.