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How The Ice King Changed The Way We Drink Cocktails

If you’ve been learning anything about making your own cocktails, you know that ice is an ingredient you must consider in the majority of drinks you’re making. 

Temperature plays a key role in how your cocktail is going to taste. Using ice to chill your drink also brings dilution into the mix.

Blocks of ice

But what if you didn’t have any ice around on a hot day to bring down the temperature? This was a reality in most countries. Sure, North America had Thomas Moore to thank for the invention of the “refrigiratory” in 1802 to help keep dairy and other food products cool. But without a big block of ice to sit inside of it, it was just a box.

Pre-1806, ice didn’t exist outside places where it was frozen naturally.

To an entrepreneurial young teenager from Massachusetts on vacation in the Caribbean with his family, it seemed like a gold mine. 

His father was already enjoying iced cocktails in their Boston home. Why hadn’t anyone thought of shipping the frozen ice from New England ponds into ports without ice?

Who is the ice king?

Frederick Tudor is known as “The Ice King.” Basically, he’s the entire reason there’s even an ice industry to begin with.

He was born to a wealthy Boston lawyer father named William Tudor, and his brother older brother, another William Tudor, was a famous literary figure.

Frederick had the chance to go to Harvard, but turned it down to pursue his business idea of bringing ice to the world!

How did he do it?

He set his sights on figuring this out and in 1806, bought his first brig. His goal: to ship ice cut from his father’s farm all of the way to Martinique.

The first run, not so successful. Most of the ice melted during the three-week journey. Frederick was able to sell what remained to cut his losses to $4,500.

But this didn’t deter our pioneer young man. At the very least, his supplies were cheap. Ice itself was free, it only cost him the labour of cutting it out of ponds. His shipping costs were also inexpensive. Many ships typically brought goods to the US and sailed back empty before loading up again. He had his pick of ships for getting his ice overseas.

Frederick also figured out that sawdust made quick a good insulator. He had his fair share available from a local lumber mill.

With each shipment of ice, his system for insulation and preservation increased. As did his supply of ice houses all through the tropics.

By the 1840s, ice was being shipped all over the world!

Without Frederick Tudor, it’s unlikely you would have the luxury of an icy cold cocktail on your next vacation. So the next time you’re enjoying a tropical beverage on a far away beach, be sure to give a nod and toast to The Ice King!

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