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Cocktail ice company launches in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO--Patrons of San Antonio's trendier bars have become accustomed to nursing cocktails chilled by oversized cubes and balls of ice.

“Knowing your ice is half the battle of being a bartender,” said Jake Corney, head bartender at Bohanan's. “It's knowing how much water to add to a cocktail, how cold you're going to get it and everything in between.”

Now Corney and Andrew Hack, bar manager at Minnie's Tavern & Rye House, have founded a business, H&C Ice Co., to meet the demand for artisan ice. They already are supplying specialty ice cubes to Hyatt Regency, The Brooklynite and The Esquire Tavern.

The duo worked together for two years at Bohanan's, where they said they tried everything under the sun, including irons, chisels and picks to cut ice spheres from large-format ice cubes.

“Of course, Sasha (Petraske) taught us the importance of ice in cocktails and bartending,” Corney said of the consultant for Bohanan's, who is a partner in a dozen or so top bars in the country.

Petraske was instrumental in promoting quality ice a decade ago. That led to the launch of HundredWeight Ice Co. at Dutch Kills in New York. The trend has grown nationwide, including Just Ice by Mike Ryan in Chicago and Cold Standard in Dallas, to name a couple.

Large ice quickly became a staple at Bohanan's, and customers started asking for ice balls for parties or events.

“Andy and I would request a day off and start cranking out ice balls,” Corney said.

Hack and Corney have an advantage with their bartending experience, so they know what type of ice the different drinks require. Then they landed their first account at the bar at the Hyatt Regency in November.

“We haven't tried to sell one piece of ice. People have been knocking on our doors,” Corney said.

To keep up with growing business, Hack and Corney plan to purchase two Clinebell machines, which produce two 300-pound blocks of ice apiece every 72 hours, and a Scotsman machine that produces pellet ice like the kind in drinks at Sonic drive-ins.

The new business also led to Corney's decision to leave Bohanan's after working there for eight years. When he leaves, he will join a long line of successful bartenders who got their start there before moving on to bigger opportunities, including Don Marsh, who opened Bar 1919 and has plans to open another bar near La Cantera; Chris Ware, who manages the bar at Arcade Midtown Kitchen; Timothy Bryand, who is assistant general manager at Nao; and Jeret Pena, who was on the opening team at The Esquire Tavern before opening his own bars, The Brooklynite and Golden Gloves Social House.

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