Jordan Goodman is on a mission to bring St. Louis Good Ice.
Jordan Goodman will never forget the moment he fell in love with cutting ice. He was working at Narwhal's Crafted — his first bartending gig — and was asked one day to hand cut about 20 cubes for the week's service. It was a small operation, nothing more than an Igloo cooler, a rectangle of ice and a low-tech chiseling device. However, the moment he cut into the frozen block, he was hooked.
"There was something so satisfying about the process — the nice crack you get when you cut into it, then the look of it when you see it in a cocktail," Goodman says. "You ask for a Sazerac, and you get this beautiful ice cube in it. The presentation and care each step of the way is appreciated by the guest. People could feel the attention going into it and felt like we were taking care of them every step of the way."
Now, Goodman is making it his life's work to bring that elevated beverage experience to St. Louis cocktail enthusiasts with Good Ice
, the artisan ice company he founded in 2020. Using a multi-step process that results in perfectly clear, geometric custom ice, Goodman and his business partner, Kyle Gillespie, are nailing down an often-overlooked, yet essential, component of the beverage experience.
If you've had a drink at Lazy Tiger, Olive + Oak, the Lucky Accomplice or O+O Pizza, chances are good that you have experienced Goodman and Gillespie's handiwork. Since March of 2020, he has been steadily developing a following among local bartenders and restaurateurs who've been eager to explore ways to elevate their establishment's drink experience. Goodman sensed ice could have this power when he first began cutting at Narwhal's; his hunch was confirmed while bartending at the Clover and the Bee when he developed a regular following who watched him at work.
Good Ice uses a high-tech, multi-step process to create the perfect ice.
"It became a spectacle," Goodman says. "People were coming in for happy hour to watch it, and it developed this cult following around Webster [Groves]. People started asking for it at Olive + Oak, so I started doing it for them as well. It piqued my interest that there is demand for this and that people love it. That was the light-bulb moment when I wondered what would happen if I pursued it."
Goodman began researching custom ice companies and, finding only a couple around the country, set out to forge his own path in the nascent industry. He asked respected industry professionals, such as his Olive + Oak colleagues Charlie Martin and Morgaine Segura, as well as Tim Wiggins of Retreat Gastropub, Yellowbelly and Lazy Tiger. All were in agreement: If he launched an ice business, they would use his product.
Goodman and his mom, Debbie, put some money together and launched Good Ice in January 2020, picking up new customers by word-of-mouth as he honed his craft. When the world shut down in March of that year, Goodman took the time to perfect his skills and grow his business slowly. By that summer, he'd gotten enough experience under his belt that he was ready when things blew up following an Instragram post from Lucky Accomplice that depicted one of his cubes. The ice in question, a watermelon cube, went St. Louis viral on social media, and Goodman was inundated with business. As he's observed, all it takes is for someone to see the product, and they are sold.
"There has been so much attention to the visual of glassware and garnishes because we live in a visual world," Goodman says. "Bartenders will think, 'I’ve done all this work; why not put most beautiful ice in my cocktail?' This ice is a technical tool for a bartender, and it's also visually a stunning product that gets people to order more and feel like they are getting a better product overall."
Good Ice sees its product as an essential component of a great cocktail.
Goodman underscores that Good Ice is not simply a visually stunning product. As bartenders look to create the best version of a drink they can possible make, ice becomes an essential building block. A cube or sphere made by Goodman or Gillespie begins with filtered water, which is then passed into a machine that uses a process called directional freezing. This removes any remaining impurities and air bubbles, resulting in a perfectly pure ice crystal that has no taste and melts slower, which means a guest can enjoy their cocktails as intended for a longer time.
"We've tinkered with just about everything there is to tinker with as bar professionals," Goodman says. "The more control you have, the more you can make sure you are giving someone an excellent product. It allows you to create a comprehensive experience. To be able to give that or receive that as a customer is truly amazing."
Goodman has been thrilled with the reception to Good Ice and sees the sky as the limit. Though the company started out with just shapes, a brand new machine and application — one used by only five places in the entire world — is allowing him and Gillsepie to experiment with logos, custom designs and even ice sculptures. He says that the running joke around the shop is that he is willing to take on any project, even if he has no idea how he is going to make it happen — and he'd like to keep it that way.
"The wild thing for me is that this is uncharted territory," Goodman says. "But I haven't had to say no yet."
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