Cool off with a cocktail: ice is the star of the bar at these thoughful establishments.
East Side Show Room “Ice is the workhorse in the cocktail. It chills, emulsifies ingredients, dilutes, and adds water—and all at the same time,” says lead bartender Justin Mork. This East Austin mainstay has a Kold-Draft machine, which makes “ice that’s harder than average icemakers and, consequently, melts slower and transfers the cold without melting as much” in in some of the most inventive cocktails in town. 1100 E. Sixth St., 512-467-4280
Living Room Kold-Draft is the go-to ice used for cocktails at the Living Room at the W, but each bar at the hotel is also equipped with a Macallan iceball maker, which compresses ice into a 65mm diameter sphere for the perfect Scotch on the rock, says general manager William Rogers. W Austin, 200 Lavaca St., 512-542- 3600
Midnight Cowboy When the reservations-only Midnight Cowboy first opened, it dabbled in a more intricate ice program, but it has since narrowed it down to three methods: a Kold- Draft machine for one-inch cubes, a Hoshizaki machine for crushing ice, and large silicon molds for freezing large cubes. This summer, try a specialty crushed-ice cocktail like the Haystack Charm (tequila, Strega herbal liqueur, coconut cream, Branca Menta mint liqueur, lemon, Angostura bitters, and mint) or the Gin-Soaked Goy (pink peppercorn-infused dry gin, sage gastrique, and fresh sage). 313 E. Sixth St., 512-843-2715
Odd Duck Odd Duck employees are just as detail-oriented about each cocktail as they are about each dish it accompanies. They use two types of high-density ice: two-inch cubes from Full Spectrum for all the rocks cocktails, and one-inch Kold-Draft cubes for mixing, shaking, and serving. “In a restaurant setting, the customer is not always standing right in front of you to grab the drink and enjoy immediately,” explains general manager and co-owner Jason James. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd., 512-433-6521
Swift’s Attic When bar manager Jeff Hammett created cocktails featuring spherical ice, it was intended to be a fleeting special. But the “ice balls” were so popular, he has expanded on the menu seasonally at this downtown upscale restaurant. Each sphere is filled with fruits, botanicals, bitters, and juices, so the drink slowly morphs as the ice melts. “As the drink is ever-changing, it makes for a different taste,” says Hammett. This summer, try the Triple Lindy (cantaloupe juice, ginger simple syrup, and fennel bitters frozen into an ice ball and topped with Tru Organic gin). 315 Congress Ave., Ste. 200, 512-482-8842
Weather Up The bar team at Weather Up harvests ice three times a week by hoisting a 300- pound slab of ice from a Clinebell machine, letting it sweat on the cutting table for an hour and a half, then cutting it with a band saw into three shapes: cubes to chill drinks like its Aloise (house-made blackberry mint syrup, tequila, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, lemon, and grapefruit), rocks for drinks like its Whiskey Chingon (whiskey, Cynar, and house-made mole syrup), and Collins cubes for tall drinks like its Fairfax (whiskey, lime, ginger, and yellow chartreuse, topped with soda). “Ice is the number-one ingredient in the world of cocktails,” says bartender Fidel Campbell. 1808 E. Cesar Chavez St., 512-524-0464