Ice does more than keep drinks cool: it is becoming an increasingly important part of cocktail making and customers are more aware of the ice that restaurants and bars are using. Jane Ram reports Higher expectations mean that ice must be carefully chosen, says Charlene Dawes, cocktail consultant to the Drawing Room Concepts group in Hong Kong. “For example, for the standard cocktails we are offering at Isono, opening soon at the PMQ (Hong Kong’s newest hot F&B destination) we are using the Hosizaki Ice Cuber, which makes ice at 28x28x32mm. The slightly larger size melts more slowly so it means the cocktails won’t be diluted too quickly, allowing a more consistent taste. For more spirit-heavy drinks such as the Isono Negroni and Old Fashioned, we use the Hoshizaki big block ice cuber, which makes a perfect block of ice at 48x48x58mm. The larger surface area of the ice block not only reduces dilution, but adds to the presentation of the drink.” Trends for ice making will be looking beyond ice machines towards crafting customised flavoured ice or using ice as part of the presentation of the drink, with different shapes and sizes to enhance the overall drinking experience, Dawes predicts. While requirements of the end product are evolving, criteria for selection of the equipment remain little changed. Consistency of output, volume, price and size (especially in space-challenged Hong Kong) are all major factors. Gabriel Lai, purchasing officer of the Aqua Group, which operates some 20 restaurants and bars around Hong Kong, says while price and size are important criteria, the warranty period and availability of spare parts are equally important considerations when ordering a new ice-making machine. “Technology has evolved in recent years to match expectations for fast, perfect ice in a variety of sizes and styles, while also meeting budgetary and environmental considerations,” says Austin Moreno, bar/restaurants operations manager at The Mira Hong Kong. “Most bartenders are looking for ice machines that can produce larger and clearer ice cubes for their drinks. Larger ice cubes melt much slower and don’t dilute the drinks as much,” he says. “Crushed ice machines are still the favourite for the international favourite – mojitos!” Blast from the future Another key factor when selecting the ideal ice machine is to consider how much ice you need per day, Moreno points out. “Hoshizaki, Manitowoc and Scotsman all have models that make large, clear and odourless ice cubes. I foresee the ice machines of the future being able to make crystal clear ice blocks or even spheres with a variety of sizes to suit the bartender’s needs. Increased temperature control will be the key to ensuring high quality ice. With regular maintenance a good ice machine can be expected to give over eight years of productive service. A little love and care go a long way!” Hotels are generally using less ice, as most have cut out the once obligatory filling of guestroom ice buckets. This saves labour and costs and it is also more environment friendly, says Roger Mair, general manager & VP operations Swiss International Hotels and general manager of Swiss International Hotel Xiamen. “We have reduced and even removed the ice machines that were formerly in guest floor pantries. Nowadays ice is only served when guests request it, and it is delivered by room service. I think most other hotel groups are doing the same.” “From a procurement standpoint, we make sure the manufacturer has a qualified representative in the Hong Kong/Macau region that ideally has inventory of parts for quick turnaround on repairs/maintenance as needed,” says the hotel’s vice president of supply chain services, Gary Chung. “Warranty terms, client references, maintenance terms and other standard commercial items are of course checked and negotiated. “Certainly price is a consideration, but equally so is making sure the right machine is selected for the right application with sufficient capacity and able to fit in the location where it should go, particularly if it is under a counter or at a bar. Easy access is also important: side door, top door, drop-down door for a cart to roll under all come into play. At our property we have primarily Hoshizaki machines.” As an industry leader in innovation and solution, Manitowoc is a global leader in ice and many other types of food service equipment. Patrick A. Xi, vice president of marketing, Manitowoc Foodservice APAC, is based in Shanghai. He says the company’s ice-making machines sell well throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Well aware of changing customer requirements, for a variety of applications in different locales, Manitowoc offers a variety of ice shapes: cubed ice, flake ice, nugget ice and individual gourmet ice, he says. The company is equally aware of the requirement for different configurations: ice machines that can fit under the counters, large capacity modular machines, machines that can fit on top of beverage dispensers, and machines with condensing units installed remotely to reduce indoor noise. “Ice machines have to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” says Xi. “The majority of Manitowoc machines received ‘Energy Star’ designation and all foam insulating material on our ice machines are water-based and have zero ozone depleting effects. We are leaders in innovation. Our Indigo line has state of the art intelligent features that provide diagnostic and constant and reliable monitoring of the entire refrigeration system of the ice machine. “We are also leaders in sanitation of the ice: ‘Lumice’ and ‘Alphasan’ features help prohibit growth of bacteria inside the ice machines food zone so customers can have safer ice.” Frozen in time Fancy drinks were far from the minds of the inventors of the first ice making machines. The earliest known artificial refrigerator dates back to 1748, but it was almost a century before the first icemaker was designed, in 1844. The inventor was an American physician, who used ice to cool his yellow fever patients down. The first US patent for an icemaker was awarded in 1851. In 1867, a major ice-making machine was built in Texas for the benefit of the beef industry. This became the prototype for commercial production of machines, beginning in 1873. Iced drinks became popular during the exceptionally hot summer of 1904. At the World’s Fair in St Louis iced tea was served as a novelty and it quickly gained lasting favour. A Boston entrepreneur, Frederic Tudor, started to ship ice internationally in 1806. These were large blocks hacked out of frozen ponds and rivers in New England and New York State. Sawdust and hay provided insulation on sailing ships that carried the highly perishable cargo to tropical ports. In 1845, the Hong Kong Ice Company was founded with the intention of selling American ice. To encourage the company to supply ice to local hospitals at cost price, the government of Hong Kong granted the site for an ice house rent-free for 75 years. The ice house extended deep underground and was mainly used to hold ice brought in from northern China until Hong Kong’s first commercial ice factory started production in 1874.