The recent buzz among the best bartenders in Denver is all about ice. For Michael Cerretani though, ice is no fad or trend; it's his priority.
The award-winning bartender and new bar manager at Session Kitchen, the former manager of Boulder's Bitter Bar, believes that ice is the most important ingredient in a cocktail. "I'm firmly of that opinion," he says. "(Unless you're making a hot toddy and then it's irrelevant.) How you treat ice is extremely important to how your program is going to be."
Session makes house-made ice that comes out of a clinebell ice system in large rectangular blocks. From there, ice is custom broken for each cocktail. "The ice chunks always break off differently," says Cerrentani, "so there's a uniqueness about each piece of ice."
"Ultimately you're trying to create an ice cube with a denser crystal structure. The denser, colder ice cube with its larger volume takes longer to melt. When you think about ice from a cellular, molecular level, it makes a big difference [in your cocktail]."
Sometimes it takes the complexity of the ice to create simplicity in a cocktail— "This program is prep heavy. It causes ease of execution," says Cerrentani. "One of our cocktails is whiskey and seasonal ice. We're going to juice whatever we can get fresh, freeze it into ice, and pour whiskey over it. Right now it's apples. For whiskey drinkers, this is an opportunity to drink straight whiskey. As the ice slowly melts, it consistently changes the flavor of the whiskey. Each sip is slightly different."