Paying extra for ice in a cocktail?

Putting this here so it doesn’t get lost in a drinks category.

Yesterday I read a social media post in which someone described a visit to a posh Newport Beach (CA) hotel where they paid $32 (pre-tip) for a Manhattan. The price included $3 charged extra for a single ice cube.

The price was shocking enough but charging for ice just seemed crazy, though other posters had seen that practice elsewhere. My biz brain would think displacing costly alcohol with an ice cube would be a net bottom line gain for the hotel, but apparently they see it differently.

How widespread is this practice AND what’s the business logic behind it?


Is there still a drought in CA? Perhaps water is at a premium there?

Certain ice for cocktails is quite hard to make, time intensive and expensive.

There are clear molds, spherical ice, rectangular ice, but no matter the type or shape, it is an intensive process.

You might ask, what difference does it make? It makes alot of difference. For the most part, the type of ice you should use comes down to how you want to consume the drink over time. A single large cube of ice has a lower surface area to volume ratio than, say, crushed ice, so it will melt less quickly.

Also, temperature, not just dilution is also an integral component to ice vis-a-vis cocktails. While the appeal of a cold drink is obvious, dilution has less apparent advantages. No one wants a watered-down cocktail, but the melted water that comes off ice is integral to the creation of a balanced drink.

So, yes, it is quite common, and the logic behind it is, well, logical.

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I sure can’t think of any! And I choked at the $32 pre-tip Manhattan. Granted, it’s Newport Beach, but that’s robbery, unless they’re using a $500-$1000 bottle of rye.


That a sucker is born every minute? $$$$$$$$


It’s still just frozen water, and making a large cube of ice takes no more investment (maybe a tad more time) than regular ice cubes.

Also, not common anywhere I live or anywhere I have drank, and I drink at lotsa places.

Perhaps a West Coast/LA phenom. See my other comment :smiley:


I associate shaved large ice spheres as a Japan thing. Bartenders there hand shave a piece of ice into balls, part of the cocktail build and show. Agreeing with @ipsedixit , a larger piece of ice offers less surface area, one can slowly sip without dilution happening.

Of course, I would balk at an extra $3 for ice , and never $32 for a cocktail!

Had a Negroni with a single large ball of ice. A hotel complimentary welcome cocktail. Didn’t ask if it was molded or hand carved.


There’s two ways of looking at it:

  1. Its a shameless way to make extra money.

  2. A drink on the rocks gets a slightly larger pour of liquor as to make the glass more full.

If its because of number 2, then fine. If not, just a scam. Some places literally just charge for the ice. I’ve drank at some high-end bars, and I’ve managed to never be to one that uses “artisan” ice cubes, which some places do. If they want to charge for what they consider to be art work or something time-consuming, that’s fine as long as it is noted on the menu.

Here’s a drink pricing example though not exactly what you are asking:

Let’s say Bombay Sapphire Gin is listed on a menu as $10. That’s just as gin, not a cocktail. When I order it as a martini, my check may read “Bombay Sapphire $10, as a martini + $4”. This is understandable as their “pour” of gin is likely 2-2.5 ounces and my martini is using around 4. But if I ordered that same gin on the rocks, I would expect to pay the $10.


That looks imperfect enough to be hand carved (a compliment by the way).


Still, I would think that having paid $32 for a Manhattan they shouldn’t charge extra for an (1) ice cube.


Not arguing with you, but just trying to understand the logic behind that.

Is it because the martini costs $32? And that’s why an extra charge even for one cube of ice, curated or not, is outrageous?

Would it better if the martini was, ahem, only $22? Would an ice-age fee then be more palatable?

Or is it just the principle of the matter. And no matter the price of the cocktail, any amount extra for ice is simply unacceptable?

1- Frankly, yes
2- Marginally, but even for $22, I’d still skip the ice cube, regardless of who made it or how
3- Maybe not simply unacceptable, but to me, smells of greed.

I admit to not being familiar with the craft cocktail trade, mainly because of the prices, but also the fact that my palate isn’t as sensitive as it used to be, as much as I hate to admit it. Pearls before swine and all


If this is the house, the Manhattan is not a house specialty:


That’s the house.

The poster said that the drink was $32 and the check showed $29 plus $3 for ice. I suppose you could make a case that a Manhattan is generally served without ice but ice is used in the cocktail shaker…… no? The post didn’t specify if the cube was ‘artisanal’ but I think they were blown away by the price with or without it, and that finer point escaped them.

Do you find it “greedy” or unacceptable to pay more for an Americano than for an espresso? Given that an Americano is simply espresso with hot water added.

For example, lets use Starbucks as an example. Putting the actual prices aside (so as to avoid whether Starbucks prices are outrageous as a general matter).

  • A double espresso at Starbucks (where I live) is $2.50.
  • An Americano (which comes with 2 shots of espresso in a “short” or small cup) is $2.85.

In that case you are essentially paying 35¢ for the privilege of hot water.

Is this no different?


I was never defending either the actual price of the cocktail, or the pedigree of the bar making said cocktail.

I was only explaining why it is more than reasonable, and in many cases acceptable, to charge for ice in any cocktail.

I am not sure about this but i do not think it is a shortage of water.
Maybe it is a complete lack of common sense?


From what we can tell, the context is Pendry’s food and drink prices are likely within the range that its room patrons would expect to see.


IMO, if you’re gonna charge me $32 for a cocktail, just charge me $32 for the cocktail. Don’t tell me that the base price is $29, plus $3 for the ice. Are they going to break down the labor costs next? Seasonal surcharges for running the A/C in the summer? Oh, you wanted to sit? That’ll be another $5, unless you’re at the bar, where stools are only $2.50.


Congestion pricing!