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Stir's artisanal ice craft cocktails
Stir's artisanal ice craft cocktails

STIR in North Hills features artisanal ice.

In the middle of a blazing hot North Carolina summer, ice is indispensable. And while most of us are content to buy it by the bagful, STIR, a restaurant, oyster bar and cocktail bar new to North Hills, is taking ice to the next level. STIR offers a unique collection of craft cocktails featuring seven styles of hand carved artisanal ice; each carving style is used specifically for different drinks. Two-inch rocks star in Old Fashioneds, long rocks fit perfectly in cocktails served in Collins glasses and spheres are saved for pours of fine whiskey and bourbon.

Stir chef crafting artisanal ice
Spherical ice demo

STIR’s ice is made in-house and is never shipped in. The ice program begins with a 300-pound block of ice, frozen from the bottom up in a three-day process in order to push out all the oxygen and impurities. A giant crane then carries the large block to a bandsaw, which cuts the ice down into smaller pieces that are then either shaved, crushed or shaped into varying-sized cubes. STIR’s servers also perform a tableside demo for drinks served with the spherical ice: they place a large ice cube into an aluminum press with a spherical mold. The aluminum immediately starts to bring out the cold, slowly melting the cube into a sphere. Once the top of the press slides into place, gravity brings it down onto the ice cube until it meets the base. The result is a crystal clear piece of spherical ice that’s exquisitely translucent.

A bandsaw cuts the 300-lb. block of ice into cubes for cocktails.
A bandsaw cuts the 300-lb. block of ice into cubes for cocktails.

“Everybody loves [the demo],” says Robert Werk, STIR’s chief operating manager. “I still like to see it, and I’ve seen it a lot.” Maybe the greatest thing about STIR’s ice is that it’s denser, allowing it to melt at the rate it needs to cool a drink without diluting it, meaning no more watered down cocktails (hallelujah!). The artisanal ice features in 14 housemade cocktails, including the Elderflower Sour, Broad Creek Special and Whiskey Bramble, which are listed on the menu alongside the style of ice that goes in them and the shape of glass they’re served in. “What goes into every craft cocktail?” asks Werk. “Ice. If you’re serious about craft cocktails, you want to be serious about ice.”

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