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The Modern Bar Cart Podcast

Apr 13, 2023

In this frosty deep dive with cocktail scholar and author Camper English, some of the topics we discuss include:

  • The story of Camper’s initial tumble down the ice rabbit hole, originating at the legendary New York bar, Milk & Honey, and resulting in a whole slew of at home experiments designed to test the thermodynamics and ergonomics of freezing water.

  • The theory and methods behind “directional freezing,” and why Camper insists that you can make clear ice using pretty much any set of tools if you just understand what makes this approach work.

  • What we can learn from the way that lakes freeze over in winter, including the structure of crystal lattices and the impact of freezing speed on trapped air bubbles and ice clarity. 

  • Then, of course, we dig into some of the techniques and projects from The Ice Book, including: ice tempering and shaping, colored ice, patterned ice, and freezing objects and garnishes INSIDE of ice cubes.

  • Along the way, we cover the exothermic implications of adding water to alcohol, a practical take on ice aesthetics, why your freezer is set way too damn cold, and much, much more.

Let’s face it. Being the kind of person who can produce perfectly clear ice is a sign that you have mastered two of the most challenging natural elements: water and temperature - you know, things that have literally shaped the course of human civilization. But beyond that, a clear ice cube in a glass, whether it’s perfectly cuboid or spherical or rough hewn like a crystal wrested from the earth, is a signal that you’re consuming something special. It, like a prism, has the potential to focus and magnify certain ineffable aspects of the experience, and I simply don’t think you’d see the world’s best bar programs emphasizing it if that wasn’t the case.

So if you’re ready to take the leap and start churning out cocktail ice that will drop jaws and elicit delight from your family and friends, be sure to pre-order your copy of The Ice Book today so that it ships as soon as it’s released in just about a month’s time on May 23rd. 

This episode is brought to you by Near Country Provisions. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic and want to enjoy ethically raised (and delicious) meat from local farmers delivered to your door every month, then you need Near Country in your life.

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