Salt of the Earth: Ice Capades
Richard and Paty Boccato own cocktail bars that spawned an ice business. At Dutch Kills in Long Island City and Fresh Kills in Williamsburg (and at Bar Clacson and The Slipper Clutch in Los Angeles), they oversee the kind of retro-modern cocktail programs that involve freshly juiced fruits and infused syrups, housemade orgeat and bitters of all kinds. Every element that goes into these concoctions is carefully considered, which is why the Boccatos ended up founding Hundredweight Big Ice to produce the crystal-clear cubes and spears that connoisseurs require for their artfully crafted drinks. They sell their ice to nearly a hundred bars and restaurants in New York City, serving the kinds of establishments that understand how the clarity, shape and size of ice affect the look and potency of their drinks.
An average freezer freezes water at a rate that traps air in the center, which can cause cracks, cloudiness and faster melting. At Hundred Weight Big Ice, Clinebell CB300X2 Carving Block Ice Maker machines produce 300-pound blocks of pristine ice through a slow-freezing cycle. This means hard ice of an astonishing clarity can be delivered in slabs and five-by-tens to bars that want to cut them into custom sizes. The company also works with bars to create ice that suits virtually any style of drink or glassware. And because they’re passionate about what they do, the Boccatos take their specialty cocktail program to other cities.
At Wm. Farmer & Sons in Hudson, their prowess is on display in such coveted throwbacks as the Holland Razor Blade, adapted from a 1939 cocktail (genever, lemon juice, simple syrup and cayenne) and the Mezcaletti, Richard Boccato’s original combination of mezcal, amaro Meletti and orange bitters. Since the Front Street establishment is not within Hundred Weight’s delivery range, they’ve recommended that bartenders there freeze and hand-cut their ice to approximate the real thing.
For mere mortals who want to try this at home, there are silicone trays that make ice in various sizes and shapes and come with lids to help ward off freezer flavor. In addition to these, Peak Ice Works from W&P Design, the company that came out with the simple but clever Mason Shaker—a glass Mason jar fitted with a metal strainer and lid—sells insulated molds that freeze water from the top down, pushing air and impurities to the bottom to create perfectly clear ice. It’s largely an aesthetic choice but, in tandem with a perfectly mixed cocktail, it really does make quite a splash.