Today, I was sad and tired on the way to work. I stopped by the local bitters store on my way in, Tessa, the 7th most beautiful woman in the world asked me what I was doing on my, “day off,” when I responded, “Chainsaw Thursday,” she responded, more slyly than anyone else could, “that doesn’t sound too bad.”
If you know me, you know I take ice way too seriously and to cap off the gnarlyness I have begun to enjoy Chainsaw Thursday like my own private weekly Super Bowl.
What is chainsaw Thursday?
A question I shall answer in great depth, though by its name, you know the key time and the key ingredient.
Location: Loading Dock at Mistral Kitchen
The Cast: Zane Harris, Andrew Bohrer, guest stars include William (DUCK! Because he is about to throw something) Belickis and Jay Kuehner and Blair Argust
Tools: Underberg, Sandwiches, Tape Measure, Ice Pick, Chainsaw, Band Saw, 300 lb Block of Ice, True Grit, iPod full of Steely Dan
Why: To get the good, bestest, pure crystal clear ice for the patrons of Mistral Kitchen and Rob Roy
Double why: Going to drop some science on you, alcohol is 12/13ths the density of water, meaning water sinks in alcohol, which is why you need to mix drinks correctly to provide proper dilution and a consistent drink. Also, it is why ice should sink in water but it doesn’t because cold cold ice is full of very temperature sensitive air, but not the ice that I am cutting up. It is air free and thusly very dense; it sinks and doesn’t melt into the spirit or drink that I give you.
There has been a lot of talk on the interwebs about how to get clear ice; the answer is very easy and very American: pay someone else to do it. Frankly, with all this buzz, The MacCallan making Ice ball machines (I am an ice balling machine) the Japanese impact on American craft bartending and us bartenders’ race to beat each other press, many people are half assing the, “ice race.” Zane and I are full assing this and I thought we could tell you the super simple way to do it yourself. Once a week, Zane and I get a 300lb block of deoxygenated, purified, and agitated whilst freezing ice delivered to my loading dock. In short, we chop it up, while we talk about how great our employees are, how fair our girlfriends are, our hopes, our dreams and about though what we are doing is stupid, the fact that we engage in Chainsaw Thursday is proof that we have chosen the correct profession.
In Seattle, we get the ice from Allied Ice or Creative Ice though I can not endorse either service because one is stupid expensive and doesn’t return and the other I can describe in no way other than lazy. But call them is you want ice because you don’t have any fucking other options.
Commitment to the craft: I want to go on the record and say that Chainsaw Thursday is not a gimmick. And that though the ice created on Chainsaw Thursday is way fucking better than anything you make in your freezer it absolutely doesn’t matter. I hand cut rocks (for any drink on the rocks) including a lot of Jack Daniels (which is crap) and have one cocktail on the menu, that though very tasty, I’m certain is often ordered for the ice. I do the ice because I know it is better for the guest even if they don’t, and I can’t speak for Zane, but I bet he just does this too, because he has to. Best thing about Chainsaw Thursday though, is that, I’m pretending that this is work.
Measure twice, Cut once
So Zane bought an electric chainsaw, I’m going to call her “slicey,” so Zane brings slicey over and we cut the block into 6, 50lb blocks. Because 50lbs is about as big as you can fit on a band saw, but we’ll come back to that. Hi mom, if you are reading this, we totally wear goggles and safety vests. Anyway, Zane and I consider slicey a, “food chainsaw, “thusly she is tasked only to ice and really doesn’t need to be lubed, just cleaned and dried off. The ice gets delivered at about 11am, and we let it sit out until 2pm so that it, “tempers,” ice that is too cold shatters instead of making a clean cut. And 300lbs of ice doesn’t have a great angel’s share in 3 hours. We used to score these 50 lb blocks to cut later, until I remembered that I had a huge fuck off band saw that can and often does cut livestock in half
The ice is not kosher.
I realized that I could put the 50lb blocks onto a machine designed to cut bone, and puddles aside, the machine was generally unaware that I was even cutting anything. So I take the 6, 50lb blocks and cut them down to about 220 3×3 inch cubes. Our rhythm is down and though it took about 4 tries to get it all correct, the whole process takes about 1 hour with a cost per cube less than the tax it costs to sell the scotch we serve on the rock. The only downfall to this is that if Zane and I need to talk about our feelings, we have to go out to lunch after because our shit is so tight.
I can’t hold off the bragging anymore, we own this. Check out this cocktail on ice so clear that you can read the label through the glass.
Yet I still reiterate, this doesn’t matter. To quote a better man than me, “A statue of Buddha built without soul has no meaning.” Carve ice, strap a vibrator to a bin of cold water to try and get clearer ice (doesn’t work, tried it) or even buy a chainsaw and a band saw, if you do this for any reason other than to make a better drink for your guest, you are doing it for the wrong reason and you should stop. Otherwise, were is the answer on clear, quality ice.