Food

Want to Make Your Quarantine Cocktails Extra Special? These DC Bars Sell Fancy Ice.

Reliable Tavern, CopyCat Co., and Astoria offer crystal-clear cubes for home bartenders.

Reliable Tavern uses a Clinebell machine to make crystal-clear ice then saws it into cocktail cubes. Photo courtesy Reliable Tavern.

Maybe you’ve had cocktails from the best bars delivered to your door. Maybe you’ve been spending your extra stay-home time making your own vermouth and infusing your own syrups. Maybe you’ve been bingeing Instagram tutorials from your favorite bartenders. But if you really want to take your quarantine cocktails to the next level, here’s a little secret: fancy ice.

A handful of bars in DC will sell you the crystal-clear cubes favored by the pros for pickup and delivery. I know, I know, why buy ice when you have a perfectly functional ice tray? But unlike the stuff in your freezer, these specialty cubes are free of all cracks, bubbles, and impurities thanks to a Clinebell machine that circulates the water as it freezes. Beyond just looking beautiful, they’re denser and melt slower, so your drink won’t get watered down as quickly. Bonus: the satisfying sound of that hefty ice “clink.”

Reliable Tavern in Petworth sells hand-cut, two-inch rocks glass cubes for $1 each or longer collins spears for $1.25 each. You can also request custom sizes by emailing them. Get your own insulated ice transport bag for $12.

The bar also offers artisanal ice along with its aged cocktails, which come in batches for three, five, or 11. Manhattans and My Old Pals (rye, vermouth, Campari) are aged at different increments up to two years. Want something more custom? Tell the bartenders what you like, and they’ll batch you up something special—ice included. Pickup is available Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 8 PM.

Meanwhile, H Street cocktail destination CopyCat Co. and its sister Szechuan spot Astoria near Dupont Circle both sell their hand-cut cubes for $12 per dozen. For home bartenders, both bars offer fortified wines, bitters, sweet cordials, and house-made syrups in varying portions so you can mix your own drinks to match their dumplings or mapo tofu. The bars also currently have the same cocktail menus with painkillers, mezcal old-fashioneds, Moscow mules, and negronis. Alternately, let them create a custom cocktail for you for pick up or delivery.

For more ambitious projects, CopyCat and Astoria sell 10-pound ($20) and 25-pound ($40) blocks of ice. Just good luck finding the freezer space.

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Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.

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