San Jose

Ice Ice Baby! San Jose Entrepreneur Sets the Bar for Artisanal Ice in Silicon Valley

“Imagine a perfect cube that looks like glass. Clear ice is exactly as it sounds, clear and melts three times slower than regular ice," said Kyle Stewart-Frantz, founder of the Clear Ice Company.

When Kyle Stewart-Frantz first moved to San Jose he began exploring its cocktail culture. Coming from Chicago, he had been exposed to some pretty artistic, well-crafted drinks but what he found in Silicon Valley left him nothing short of disappointed.

“Some places here would serve a cocktail they would claim as handcrafted ... and great ingredients, and all that is very true, but then they would fill a giant ice cube with tap water that melted really fast in the drink," Stewart-Frantz said. "Using regular ice in cocktails dilutes the drink, changing what the bartender had meant to share with you.”

The solution, according to Stewart-Frantz, who works full-time as a developer in the San Francisco Bay Area — is using clear ice.

Jennifer Gonzalez / NBC Bay Area

“Imagine a perfect cube that looks like glass. Clear ice is exactly as it sounds, clear and melts three times slower than regular ice," Stewart-Frantz said, showing off one of his perfectly handcrafted clear ice rocks and cubes which almost resemble mini ice sculptures.

While clear ice cubes are well known among artisanal bartenders, Silicon Valley has yet to fully embrace it.

So to take matters into his own hands, Stewart-Frantz kickstarted the Clear Ice Company and began producing clear ice for local bars and restaurants in the area.

Jennifer Gonzalez / NBC Bay Area
Kyle Stewart-Frantz, owner of the Clear Ice Company uses Japanese ice saw to cut a 300-pound block of ice during his clear ice harvest. (April 1, 2019)

“The process of clear ice or directional freezing to make this ice prevents the air from settling in the ice and allows it to be denser,” Stewart-Frantz said. “Also because of the heavy filtration on the water, it has no taste and does not impart any negative effects on the drink.”

Jennifer Gonzalez / NBC Bay Area
Owner of the Clear Ice Company, Kyle Stewart-Frantz holds a cocktail featuring the clear ice at Braise, a local restaurant that uses clear ice. (April 1, 2019)

It takes about three days to freeze a 300-pound block of ice and only a few hours to harvest it.

Since starting the company last year, Stewart-Frantz has found some success in his ice business and has even started making more creative versions of clear ice with garnishes and photos.

While it’s too early to tell, he hopes the clear ice trend will not only catch on in Silicon Valley but also become a household staple someday.

“Ice takes about half the space in a cocktail, its forefront in your eyes. It serves great functionality but also good aesthetics for a good experience,” Stewart-Frantz said.

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