JOHN JUNIOR (CO-FOUNDER)
My first job was that of a bartender...in 7th grade. I was at my cousin's graduation party and was mesmerized by the frozen cocktail machines, shakers, and the plethora of spirits available. I eagerly volunteered myself as barkeep, and my uncle graciously approved. I sat there for 7 hours pouring drinks for dozens of attendees. I even created my own custom cocktails. Having had no idea of what I was doing or what they tasted like, I just grabbed things that looked like they would go together and started advertising them...to my surprise one of them actually became a hit. My older cousin (who was actually a bartender himself) advised me to put out a tip jar. By the end of the night I was $77 richer and was convinced that I had found my calling.
Since then, I have spent years learning about whisky, and the science and art of mixology. I found myself paying close attention to every single detail about my drinks and fine tuning them over the years. This is when I started learning about craft ice. I was impressed by how much science, engineering, and skill goes into perfecting what many people disregard as a rather simple thing. Once I created my first clear ice cube, I could never go back. My freezer is currently full of more craft ice than actual food (and I have a wife a two children to feed). Having realized that there's no way to stop this train, I teamed up with my father to take my newfound passion and bring it to those around us.
My first career was that of a farrier (horseshoer), during which I learned the craft of blacksmithing, the science of horse locomotion, and the art of tricking horses into wanting to stand reasonably still while one nails iron objects onto the bottoms of their feet. For those who are less familiar with the precursor to getting a new set of Goodyears on one’s F-150, horses don’t actually feel the nail itself, much like how you don’t feel it when you clip your fingernails. Nonetheless, horses don’t generally enjoy the process, nor do they tend to have much affection for those who carry it out.
Blacksmithing and icesmithing are similar in that one has to work fast to outpace temperature change. I can still hear my farrier school instructor Bob Reaume, God rest his soul, yelling over the ringing of anvils and the roaring of forges “he who hammers on cold iron goes to hell early”! I suppose those who cut melting ice would be subject to the same fate.
There are of course differences between blacksmithing and icesmithing, most of which are in favor of icesmithing. One can’t get 3rd degree burns in an ice shop, and I have yet to be kicked by a horse. Finally, bartenders tend to have much better temperaments than horses, and I have compiled a healthy supply of “horse walks into a bar” jokes to keep them that way.