HomeCocktailKnives, Chisels, Saws, and Extra

Knives, Chisels, Saws, and Extra


In a earlier submit, I coated the right way to clarify ice at dwelling, together with some tips about reducing ice slabs into cubes. At present we’ll take a more in-depth take a look at ice reducing instruments for breaking down blocks and shaping ice.

Skilled craft cocktail ice makers within the U.S. usually use a Clinebell ice machine to make massive, 300-pound blocks of ice meant for ice sculptures. They then lower these blocks into cubes utilizing a band noticed and typically additionally an electrical chainsaw. On this submit, we’ll skip the facility instruments and focus on hand instruments advisable by bartenders.

Lumber Saws Are Good For Ice Blocks, Too

Some bar operators buy the massive ice sculpture blocks (fairly than make them themselves) and lower them up with hand instruments into smaller blocks, after which later into cubes. There’s a sort of ice noticed utilized in Japan (Japanese bar instruments in addition to ice instruments are usually well-regarded) with massive enamel and a straight deal with. Massive saws can promote for lots of of {dollars}.

Iruma Shibuya, who works at Backbar in Somerville MA, and with the catering and academic occasions group at The Cocktail Guru, interned at Tokyo’s well-known Bar Excessive 5. The bar’s proprietor Hidetsugu Ueno is world well-known for his work with ice, significantly in carving ice diamonds. Shibuya didn’t want such massive ice saws in Japan because the blocks that have been delivered to the bar have been smaller, however he does in Boston the place the bar begins with bigger (50 pound) preliminary blocks.

Shibuya says, “These ice saws are made to have the ideas of every tooth to barely flare outwards in order that as one cuts ice, the ice chips and water get pulled out of the channel fairly than getting caught within the block. This helps velocity up the reducing course of, and there are much less alternatives for the ice chips and water to gunk up and refreeze within the channel across the noticed whereas one cuts ice.”

These ice saws begin at big sizes, however when you’re largely reducing up ice made at dwelling in a beer cooler, you should purchase one thing with a blade that measures about 10 to 12 inches. Ice saws are sometimes based mostly on (or truly are) saws used for reducing wooden. In the event you search on-line for “Japanese ice noticed,” you’ll seemingly see numerous woodworking saws, tree limb saws, timber saws, and pruning saws. Chris Morris, beverage director at Aya Sushi & Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen in Houston, prefers a cheaper Japanese crosscut timber noticed.

assorted ice saws and ice picks
A take a look at Liam O’Brien’s ice instruments | picture by Liam O’Brien

Liam O’Brien, a former chef and present proprietor of Brass Monkey in Nottingham, says that “tree surgical procedure instruments are nice and constructed to final, and do heavy work. These saws have alternative blades, too.” He owns just a few instruments good for reducing up blocks and slabs, together with a pruning noticed and a butcher’s cleaver.

Go away It to Cleavers

Remember the fact that with ice blocks and slabs made in a house cooler, more often than not you’ll solely want to attain a line throughout the floor of the ice fairly than noticed by means of your complete block, then faucet on it with a (often picket) mallet to separate it. Thus, many bartenders want a noticed with a again that’s straight, fairly than curved.

Each cleavers and soba knives could have good flat backs, however they don’t have enamel like saws. Each forms of knife can be utilized to attain traces in slabs of ice, in addition to for “shaping” ice, together with straightening sides of lower blocks and cubes. 

Shibuya notes that when splitting blocks of ice, a noticed with enamel, or one with a rounded again, can break up erratically because the blade doesn’t relaxation with equal stress alongside the ice. He has used and recommends soba knives. He says, “The Soba Knife we used is product of chrome steel as an alternative of iron, and it was not the costliest or spectacular blade. The main target was to discover a single sided blade with a straight edge that wasn’t too thick and will climate being moist with out rusting. Crucial a part of utilizing the soba knife is that you’ve a large and constantly straight edge that touches your complete floor of the ice you are attempting to chop.”

Skilled knife maker Adam Simha of MKS Customized Knives made knives particularly for the Boston bar Drink, the place bartenders lower ice off a big block throughout service. One massive cleaver-style knife Simha made for the bar was rectangular in form and heavy responsibility in building. He says, “Common supervisor John Gertsen requested that I make a knife to switch the cheap Chinese language cleavers they’d been utilizing (and commonly breaking). It could possibly form, shave, crush, and along side a mallet, break up and cleave.”

As talked about in my earlier submit on reducing up a slab of ice, you’ll be able to merely use a serrated bread knife to do the trick at dwelling. Bread knives usually have good-sized enamel and a flat again, plus they’re cheap. Equally, Liam O’Brien makes use of a serrated pastry knife from Victorinox, which he says is extra versatile. “It’s good for a directionally frozen block within the mini [cooler] however can even work on larger blocks. And it’s nice for trimming smaller blocks into shapes, carving, and so forth.”

In her e-book The Approach of the Cocktail, Julia Momose says that she prefers the small, flat-backed Japanese machete referred to as a nata. It’s a bread knife in form however with out a serrated edge.

Advantageous Tuning: Choosing and Paring

After your block has been damaged down right into a smaller dimension, you’ll be able to lower it into an ideal dice, carve an ice diamond, or hand-carve an ice ball. There are many tutorial movies on YouTube on the right way to lower ice like the professionals. You’ll discover that the bartenders use a wide range of totally different instruments based mostly on private desire.

bartender with ice cubes
depositphotos / Fesenko

Three-prong ice picks can be utilized to interrupt up huge cubes into smaller ones, or to chip ice spheres by hand. Javier Flores, founding father of Fats Ice Firm, has two totally different three-pronged ice picks that he makes use of relying on the variety of ice balls he’s carving. He says, “The massive decide is weighted higher, but when I’m going to be doing greater than a dozen or if I’m going to make smaller spheres, I’ll use the [smaller, inexpensive, and easy to find] Deluxe mannequin.” 

Many individuals who hand-cut ice want to make use of some model of a paring knife. A paring knife is a short-bladed non-serrated knife that can be utilized for peeling fruit and greens however is an all-purpose small knife. Paring knives are available many various lengths and shapes. Adam Simha designed a paring knife for Ezra Star (previously of Drink in Boston). It appears to be like a bit like a small machete with flat edges each alongside the underside in addition to the tip of the knife (referred to as a “tanto tip”). He says that the small tanto form was made particularly to carve shapes from a giant dice whereas holding the dice with one’s hand. “The knife will dive barely into the ice versus skipping out and into fingers.”

Momose prefers a Japanese boning knife referred to as a “honetsuki.” It’s much like a paring knife with a triangular form. Shibuya additionally used this type of knife at Bar Excessive 5 and says, “For shaping, this boning knife could be very useful as a result of the blade was made to cope with arduous supplies, in contrast to the soba knife. The rooster boning knife can be a single sided blade and that helps keep a clear lower.”

Flores of Fats Ice says he can use both a big paring knife or an honest high quality chef’s knife (a bigger, non-serrated, all-purpose knife) for reducing diamonds and different shapes. “Premium Japanese knives are good, however the abuse I put them by means of hand reducing for occasions doesn’t actually make sense. I just like the Dalstrong manufacturers simply fantastic.”

Chisel It, Only a Little Bit

“Probably the most helpful instrument within the arsenal for clear cubes is an efficient oire nomi,” says Chris Morris. That’s the time period for a Japanese wooden chisel. Morris says that it’s “nice for particular person sectioning and significantly helpful for diamonds.” 

Merlin Griffiths, who calls himself a “publican and TV bartender” suggests searching for a chisel with a flat facet and a beveled facet, not like a wedge that’s used to separate logs. “A normal knife is honed from either side of the leading edge. However this knife could be very thick and solely honed to an edge from one facet, very like a woodworker’s chisel could be.” His mannequin has a four-inch lengthy edge, and Griffiths says it’s nice for shaping ice.

ice diamond in a cocktail glass
Ice work by Mihai Fetcu | picture by Mihai Fetcu

Regardless of all the flamboyant tools that Shibuya owns and works with, he gives some sensible recommendation for folks with restricted entry to instruments and assets. “I might counsel utilizing a picket mallet and two-inch chisel, and to chop the blocks in a primal method. ‘Primal’ as in reducing the block in half, then one other half, and so forth., till the dimensions of cubes desired are obtained. Shaping and cleansing may also be achieved with the chisel, and most of all, the chisel’s blade is single sided, which helps to get clear cuts.”

An Surprising Hack

Mihai Fetcu, Inventive Director of Bar D.O.M.E in Romania, says he discovered the perfect—and positively least costly—knife for the job of reducing cubes and diamonds after working with ice each day for greater than 5 years. He says, “The Japanese stuff I maintain for exhibitions, reveals, competitions, coaching, and so forth., the place I simply showcase.”

Behind the scenes when he’s reducing ice to serve later, fairly than in entrance of patrons, he opts for a really generic utility knife (typically referred to as a field cutter). “I personal and have tried all kinds of Japanese bar instruments and they’re good if it’s important to make one [ice diamond]. If it’s important to make lots, then the grip is killing your hand slowly however steadily. The simplest, quickest, most secure method to carve ice is with a metallic cutter,” he says.

“They’re very low-cost, however the blade wears off fairly rapidly. On a traditional day, the place I course of round 200 to 500 particular person items, I exploit three to 4 [of these cutter tools], relying on the mannequin. After I’ve needed to get a job executed, the cutter has been my pal.”




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