Petaluma Start-Up Crafts Cool Ice Cubes for Artful Cocktails

A new Sonoma County company is on a mission to make your cocktail stunning.

Crafting the perfect cocktail is an art form. When done well, the finished product is a thing of beauty. But few put much thought into one of the most important ingredients of a great cocktail. A new Petaluma company is on a mission to change that.

“Cocktail enthusiasts spend lots of time and money on the perfect spirits, mixers, glassware, bitters and tools — yet the ice is often overlooked,” said Charles Joly, resident mixologist at Abstract Ice. “Ice is the unsung hero of the cocktail.

Abstract Ice was launched earlier this year by Todd Stevenson, Ash Notaney and Leon Sharyon, formerly of Lagunitas Brewing Company. After making a name for themselves in the craft brewing world, the trio has turned their attention to creating crystal clear ice in unique shapes and sizes.

A number of Sonoma County craft distilleries, including Griffo Distillery in Petaluma and Hanson of Sonoma Distillery, have already taken notice of Abstract Ice’s artful cubes and added them to their drinks. Local restaurants like Healdsburg’s The Matheson, Sonoma’s Wit and Wisdom and Petaluma’s Brewsters Beer Garden have also incorporated Abstract Ice products into their bar programs.

In addition to cooling a drink, ice also helps dilute it and adds texture. Available in different shapes and sizes, Abstract Ice looks more interesting than regular square ice cubes and also helps control the dilution (or melting) process. (The ice melts more slowly because it is dense and has a large surface area.)

“We use their ice because they level up every drink we put them into,” said Jenny Griffo, who owns Griffo Distillery with her husband, Michael. “It definitely is hard to make an amazing Old Fashioned like we do if you don’t have premium ice like Abstract’s to prevent quick melting and then a watering down of the cocktail.”

Abstract Ice uses water from the city of Petaluma for their ice cubes and a patented technology to provide an additional level of water purification. (Water frozen in a traditional freezer traps dissolved air and impurities, resulting in cloudy ice.)

“Abstract Ice is made in a controlled process with water in constant motion while it is being frozen,” said Ash Notaney, president of Abstract Ice. “The constant motion prevents the entrapment and results in perfect, pure, clear ice.”

Looking to step up your own cocktail-making game? Abstract Ice is sold in select Sonoma County stores, including Wilibees in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, Charley’s Wine Country Deli in Petaluma and Big John’s Market in Healdsburg. In addition to pure ice, the company will soon release ice containing California-grown flowers and fruit sourced from local farmers markets.

Joly recommends cocktail enthusiasts temper the ice – take it out of the freezer and let it rest for a couple of minutes – before adding their drink of choice. Tempering prevents the ice from cracking and keeps it clear.

“Mix and match the different cubes and don’t just limit yourself to cocktails,” said Joly. “I love sipping an iced coffee over our Orbs.”