But a new Chicago company, inspired by the Japanese word for ice - "Ko-ri", is now producing crystal clear cubes and spheres for restaurants, bars and even home cocktail enthusiasts.
At Quari Handcrafted Ice, located in a West Fulton Market neighborhood industrial building, employees do all they can to stop shivering. They are, after all, spending much of their shift in or near a freezer.
"Our mission as a company is to not only bring ice that looks amazing, and is beautiful, crystal clear, perfect edges, but also that performs well," said Neil Sullivan, the co-owner of Quari Handcrafted Ice.
Ice performance? It's a thing. Because even though they use local water, they fill their expensive Clinebell machines with it, then apply a state-of-the-art filtration system, using reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light. The result? Perfectly clear cubes.
"It doesn't interfere with the flavor of the thing you're trying to pair it with. And so key to that is the removal of impurities," said Sullivan.
They can produce 1.8 inch cubes, as well as two-and-a-half inch spheres, the result of a special Japanese machine that cuts half-moons into large, rectangular blocks.
"Uses the same steel they use to forge samurai swords, really important in terms of crafting a precision product," he said.
From there, it's just a matter of knocking them out with a mallet, then packing them up for shipment to local restaurants or stores, like Binny's, where you might see their special freezers in one of the aisles. The other unique element to the company is their mission to provide opportunities to individuals with troubled pasts or even previous convictions, giving them a second chance.
"We not only give them a living wage, but we give them ownership in the company," said Sullivan.
You can find Quari ice in about 40 to 50 restaurants in Chicago, plus select Binny's, as well as Schaefer's up in Skokie, so you can make your own holiday party even more classy and more tasteful.
EXTRA COURSE: A look at how Piccolo Sogno restaurant uses Quari Ice in one of their cocktails
QUARI HANDCRAFTED ICE