Bars Are Serving Cocktails Made With Glacier Ice

Selling glacial ice might be lucrative, but environmentalists aren't so happy about it.

If you've ever wanted to see what a glacier tastes like, you'll need to fly to the United Arab Emirates to place your order at an exclusive cocktail bar. (Unless, of course, you're Martha Stewart.) Greenland-based company Arctic Ice is supplying actual bits of glacier to cocktail bars in the UAE, and The Guardian reports that although the fledgling company has only recently harvested its first batch of ice (20 tons' worth), there are many unhappy people out there who believe that its operations are an insult to environmental efforts worldwide.

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Arctic Ice only harvests what’s known as “black ice”

Arctic Ice, founded in 2022, operates a specialized boat with a crane built onto it, and on a harvesting missions, the company looks for something known as black ice. Not to be confused with the common pavement hazard, black ice is a specific type of ice that hasn't touched the top or the bottom of the glacier from which it originated. Since it hasn't had direct contact with the environment around it, it's considered pure.

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Black ice is difficult to spot, as it's completely transparent—hence the name. Once the right block of black ice is located by Arctic Ice, it's brought onto the boat. Eventually pieces of the glacier are shipped via a multi-leg journey to a distributor in Dubai called Natural Ice, which sells multiple types of ice to businesses around the city.

The Arctic Ice website says the company is merely harvesting a product "from natural icebergs already naturally detached from the glacier and floating in the Nuuk fjord," and that no ice is taken directly from a glacier. "Our very limited production thereby has a very insignificant impact," the website reads.

The glacial ice is allegedly slow to melt and the company claims the ice doesn't alter the flavor of the surrounding drink as much as tap water would, thus making it a valuable addition to cocktails. (Though I suspect it's primarily prized for its rarity and the bragging rights that come along with that.)

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Social media users aren’t happy with glacier ice cocktails

Social media users aren't exactly pleased with what Arctic Ice is attempting to achieve, leaving Instagram comments such as "Shame on you for killing us all a little quicker" and "Just to get this right, you are shipping ice from Greenland to Dubai? To be used in drinks? What is the sustainable part in that?" (Comments have since been restricted.)

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For its part, Arctic Ice claims it's committed to eventually becoming carbon neutral, and cofounder Malik V. Rasmussen told The Guardian, "Helping Greenland in its green transition is actually what I believe I was brought into this world to do. We do have that agenda running through the company, but we may not have communicated it well enough yet."

The real goal behind Arctic Ice, says Rasmussen, is to kickstart more ways for Greenland to create revenue. The country is mainly dependent on Denmark, whose yearly grant supplies Greenland with over half of its budget.

"In Greenland, we make all our money from fish and from tourism," said Rasmussen to The Guardian. "For a long time, I have wanted to find something else that we can profit from."

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Environmentalist Greta Thunberg has yet to comment publicly about this, but I have a feeling that she wouldn't look too kindly upon the international luxury cocktail glacier ice industry, considering a 2019 report found that Greenland is losing ice from its ice sheet seven times faster than it was in 1992.

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