Some changes are trends, others are just improvements. When it comes to "fancy pants ice" in cocktails, let it be not a fleeting moment in our bar scene, but a way to make craft cocktails shine forever.
Last week, 5280 Magazine's Natasha Gardner asked: "Should these five cocktail trends go away?" During a month centered around cocktails at the monthly magazine, Gardner listed "fancy pants ice" and low alcohol cocktails among the hoped goners. We hope they stay. Here's why.
Large dense ice cubes melt much slower that smaller one, keeping your drink cold yet undiluted. "Large format ice helps the spirit keep its integrity," bartender Sean Kenyon explained. "At Williams & Graham, we use clear ice with no air bubbles made with filtered water. We cut 300 pound ice blocks into 2 inch by 2 inch pieces then cut each one into an emerald shape," he added.
"Fancy" ice, a term with which Kenyon disagreed ("It is still frozen water and there's nothing fancy about cutting ice with a chain saw," he quipped), does not drive up the price of the cocktails, nor is it similar to what you can find in your freezer - pieces of ice with that distinct freezer scent. There is still a minority of bars that use it, but, when you find it in your glass, enjoy.
Bryan Dayton, bartender and co-owner at Oak at Fourteenth and Acorn, is one of Colorado's loudest promoters of low alcohol cocktails. His menu dedicates a section to such drinks. "People come out to drink for different reasons and in different moods and everyone should feel like it's easy to find what they are looking for," Dayton said. "We started doing low alcohol cocktails at Oak at Fourteenth when we opened to allow our guests the variety and versatility of choice," he added. Dayton calls low alcohol cocktails a more "civilized" way of drinking socially. "I, for example, want a buzz when I go out, but I don't need to be blasted, so you'll probably find me with a Campari and soda," the bartender confessed.
Kenyon also sings praises to the less boozy drinks. "There aren't just people who drink or don't drink," Kenyon said. "Some people want a drink and don't want it to hit them very hard. Lower alcohol drinks allow people to branch past the vodka and the gin and discover things like sherry and vermouth," he added.
One thing everyone agrees on- there is room for more non-alcoholic cocktails. Both Kenyon and Dayton feature several non-alcoholic fancy beverages at their respective bars. Recently, the Wall Street Journal led an article on mocktails with the "stylish soft options" that are offered at Acorn.
Cheers to non-alcoholic cocktails and low alcoholic ones -- and long live the fancy ice.
· Should These Five Cocktail Trends Go Away? 
· Mocktails Come of Age [WSJ]
· Speed Cocktailing Practice: Melissa Durant of Acorn [EDen]
· The Cocktail Heatmap: A Guide to Where to Drink Now [EDen]
Ice at Williams & Graham [Photo: Facebook]