Having a drink that transforms as you consume it sounds like either hoopla from a circus or a beverage from the future.
But the Grapefruit A-Go-Go cocktail that’s served at Second Home Kitchen+Bar in Denver is neither.
The drink begins as a sweet vodka martini, made with Absolut vodka, St. Germain, Prosecco, honey simple syrup and—the key transforming ingredient—grapefruit juice ice cubes. As the ice cubes melt, the drink changes into a Greyhound cocktail, becoming both tarter and fruitier, ending up with a slushie type of consistency.
“It’s probably our No. 1 selling cocktail and we see a lot of people start with it and continue to order them if they have a meal,” says senior manager Ann Casanova.
Ice is nothing new. It was introduced to Americans in the first half of the 19th century and now we expect most of our drinks to be as cold as they can.
Second Home Kitchen+Bar has more plans for ice for the coming summer. It plans to turn herb-infused syrups into ice cubes, and expects to make lower-alcohol Moonshine ice cubes that will be added to chilled glasses of lemonade. In a similar vein, it plans to make tea ice cubes, which will also melt in a glass of lemonade to make an Arnold Palmer.
The Flatiron Room in New York City makes ice part of its theatrics, with two 1930's steampunk-esque ice crushers permanently affixed atop its bar, which are primarily used for mint juleps.
“We are selling an experience,” says owner Tommy Tardie.
The bar also produces one-inch square cubes, in an ice machine, which are often added to the whiskies the bar is famous for.
“It’s a nice hard square, so it doesn’t melt as quickly,” says Tardie, “and esthetically it looks really nice.”
Back in Denver, Kachina Southwestern Grill serves smoked ice cubes in its Diplomat cocktail. To make them, it puts water into its kitchen smoker for about 90 minutes, runs it through cheesecloth since no one wants an ashy drink, then freezes it into large ice cubes, each about an inch and a half square.
“That combination of ingredients, when put together, creates a nice balance—the sweet floral of the St Germain, the smoky depth of the barrel-aged tequila and a little citrus,” says Lauren LaFortune, senior manager.
“The smoke in the ice cube and from the tequila complement each other very well and it contrasts nicely with the sweet of the other ingredients,” she says, adding that it also pairs well with the smoky flavors of Southwestern food.