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New Company to Supply Montreal Bars With Super Fancy Craft Ice

Les Marchands wants to change the cube game.

Gleaming the cube
Gleaming the cube
Les Marchands

The craft ice phenomenon has come to Montreal. Later than hipster capitals like Portland or Brooklyn, perhaps, but a new company, Les Marchands, will strive to get the city up to speed with "luxurious crystal clear ice distribution to bars, hotels, and restaurants." The Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve-based outfit was "inspired by the 1850s ice merchant business" and promises to offer a hand-cut product made with "99.9% pure water and the same freezing process as lakes and rivers."

Other craft ice producers, such as Washington, D.C.'s Favourite Ice, typically use a Clinebell machine—the same kind of freezer ice sculptors employ—and an assortment of Japanese band saws, chisels, and knives, to create super-dense, unclouded cubes (and spheres). This premium, boutique ice has become a hallmark, and clichéd accoutrement of cocktail purists the globe over, and has duly been met with snarky news coverage as a result. The supposed wisdom is that if customers freely spend $15 on a drink, they deserve a chunk of ice not made with tap water, and whose attributes conjure up diamonds. Think frozen bling in a tumbler, in other words, with a slower melt time than run-of-the-mill cubes.

Clearly, Les Marchands is on a mission with its fancy, aesthetically-superior ice. The company professes to exist in order "to help the city make a name for itself on the current international cocktail and mixology scene." Let's see how that ambition plays out. Look for the company's ice soon at five, yet-to-be-named Montreal bars (spoiler: it looks like Mayfair is one of them). Icy particulars to come.