Buying the cubes individually saves him 50 to 60 cents on a $12 cocktail, of which the bar sells about 12,000 per year.
“When you find a way to be more efficient, that’s the way to make more money,” Bonin said.
Harrell tried developing the artisanal ice program with Loring Kitchen before it closed. Minnesota Ice Sculptures now sells ice directly to Northeast Social, Constantine, Scena Tavern and Tattersall Distilling, and it recently worked out a deal to sell its ice in retail packaging next to high-end liquors in MGM Wine & Spirits at St. Louis Park’s Knollwood Mall.
“We have a good group of folks who like the high-end bourbons and scotches, and I’m personally a fan of it,” store owner David Weisman said. “Why not? Let’s see if it works.”
The ice will retail between $10 and $22 per bag, depending on the shape (cylinders, rocks, nuggets or shards), size and quantity.
If it’s a hit, Weisman will tell the owners of the 39 other MGM stores that they should get Minnesota Ice Sculptures freezers in their stores, too.
“We’ll share the news, and perhaps it will proliferate through the rest of the franchise. … It could really take off, hopefully,” he said.
It would be big business for Minnesota Ice Sculptures. The company has annual sales of about $250,000, with artisanal ice making up as much as a quarter of that, Harrell said.
He’d like to secure up to $500,000 to buy more equipment for making and storing ice. As far as Harrell knows, no artisanal ice manufacturer has scaled up to a national level.
“I’m hoping I’ll be the first,” he said.