Last week we introduced you to the Mr. Wizard of local bartenders, Travis Nass, who's so dedicated to hand-crafted cocktails that he even brews up his own tonic water. However, that's nothing compared to the lengths he's gone to try to solve the holy grail of mixologists everywhere: creating crystal clear ice.
Yes, I'd wager that Nass, who works at Rancho Pinot in Scottsdale, is the only bartender in town who counts a battery-powered vibrator among the tools of his trade. It's all part of his ongoing efforts to replicate the classic ingredients used by the original mixed-drinks maestros back in the 1800s, even if it means filling his home freezer with buzzing sex toys. All of which puts a whole new spin on the old shaken vs. stirred debate.
But why is Nass so obsessed with clear ice, and what exactly is he doing with all those vibrators? Answers ahead.
According to Nass, today's machine-made ice is a cloudy, quick-melting mess compared to the ice used a few generations ago. Back then, ice was carved from frozen ponds every winter and delivered to bars in massive blocks, where it was then hand-hammered to create everything from ice cubes to crushed ice. (In fact, some high-end establishments, such as Roka Akor in Scottsdale, still buy their ice by the block and break it down right there at the bar.)
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More important, this naturally-occurring freezing process created a rock-hard and crystal-clear ice that melted about five times slower than machine-made ice, thanks to a lack of trapped air and other particulates.
This brings us back to Nass and his DIY attempts to recreate old-timey ice inside his home freezer. Starting with distilled water that's been twice-boiled to remove any remaining impurities, he's been honing his technique while creating small batches of ice inside an Igloo cooler. And after reading that constant motion helps prevent trapped air, he's even experimented with strapping a couple of disposable vibrators to the side of the cooler.
All of which sure seems like a lot of work to create a couple of pounds of crystal-clear ice cubes. But you'll be thanking him when your whisky on the rocks stays cool without getting watered down by melting ice.