Casa Agave Launches in the UK

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Casa Agave are excited to announce their launch, the home of Tequila, Mezcal and all things agave in the UK!

As importers, distributors and promoters they aim to give a platform to some of Mexico’s wonderful smaller producers and increase variety and choice of top quality independently owned agave spirit brands in the UK market.

They are currently importing and working with fantastic artisanal Mezcal brands like La Medida, Animas, Koch and El Mero Mero and will be continually adding to their range of producers, trying to offer the best unique selection of agave spirits in the UK.

Because it can often be produced in less developed areas, they believe that the development of Mezcal internationally should have a positive impact for the people who produce it and their communities. For this reason, they personally select each Mezcal, trying to make sure that the brands they import are actively engaged in improving communities and the lives of the people who live there. They also try to ensure all the mezcals they import originate from small family run Palenque’s, giving them thei support in their fabulous businesses.

Created by the team behind Nottingham Tequila and Mezcal bar 400 Rabbits, Casa Agave also aims to further promote the wonders of agave spirits to consumers and industry professionals around the country through training, education, pop ups and trying to increase consumer awareness and understanding of the category.

All our brands are available through their retail website (www.casa-agave.com) to consumers and trade.

For more information about Casa Agave or any of their brands drop them an email at info@casa-agave.com or call Jen on 07944766436

London Mezcal Week Returns To Celebrate The Spirit And Mexican Culture

london mezcal week

In honour of the agave spirit mezcal, the second annual London Mezcal Week will give the capital a very Mexican flavour between 10th – 16th September 2018. Celebrating many lesser-known, traditionally made mezcal brands, the week-long mezcal fiesta will take the form of a series of events across London, including tastings, dinners, talks and parties, plus a host of bars serving special mezcal cocktails. There will also be several pop-up mezcalerias appearing throughout the week to give you a taste of Mexico, whether you’re new to the spirit or a mezcal aficionado. ¡Salud!

Mezcal is the lesser-known cousin of tequila and is made in Mexico from the agave plant, the heart (or piña) of which is roasted underground before being distilled. This roasting process provides a unique, striking flavour with the fresh, vegetal nature of an agave spirit but with more depth. It’s this complexity that has led to its rise in popularity amongst the bartending community and leading cocktail bars.

London Mezcal Week, which is organized by two of London’s most dedicated mezcal enthusiasts, Thea Cumming and Melanie Symonds, aims to celebrate the mezcal category and bring it to a wider audience. The week-long programme of events will showcase the diverse and numerous ways it can be enjoyed – whether on its own, in cocktails or with food. Working solely with traditional mezcal producers – some of which date back generations within the same family – the week will see many of the brands flying to the UK for the first time. In order to support the community that produces mezcal, London Mezcal Week will also be working with the charity Rebuild Oaxaca, an organization that focuses on improving the quality of life of Mexico’s poorest families by rebuilding communities through construction projects.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

The headline event of the week will be the Mezcal Festival, which will take place from Friday 14th – Saturday 15th September. Providing a full-scale agave takeover in London Bridge, festival-goers will be able to sip on some extra-special cocktails by Ojo Rojo at an al fresco bar, whilst Mexico’s trending chef Santiago Lastra will be taking care of the food offering. From 7pm on the Friday and Saturday night DJs will be providing the soundtrack and transitioning the atmosphere from day-time drinking to evening fiesta. Within the Mezcal Festival will be the Tasting Room with one of the UK’s largest selections of mezcals to date, and some producers which have never been available in the UK before. For £25 per person, festival-goers can book a 2-hour session in the Tasting Room for a unique opportunity to sample the range on offer and meet the makers.

44 Southwark Street, London, SE1 9HW
Friday 14th – Saturday 15th September, Midday – Midnight: free entry to the Mezcal Festival, £25pp to access the Tasting Room (a 2 hour session can then be booked from 1-3pm, 3-5pm, 5-7pm both days)
Tickets available from http://www.londonmezcalweek.com

Those who are after a more foodie experience will be able to attend a one-off dinner with renowned Mexican chef Santiago Lastra on Tuesday 11th September at 44 Southwark Street. Working with local producers in the UK to create Mexican-style food, guests can enjoy a four course feast paired with mezcal cocktails. With a background working at renowned venues including NOMA Mexico with René Redzepi, texture, colour and soul are at the heart of Santiago’s cooking.

44 Southwark Street, London, SE1 9HW
Tuesday 11th September, 7pm-late
£37pp, option to have mezcal pairing throughout or order drinks as you go
Tickets available from http://www.londonmezcalweek.com

Rounding off the week will be the London Mezcal Week Closing Party, sponsored by skillfully crafted mixers London Essence Co, on Sunday 16th September – complete with Micheladas and Margaritas to work off the Sunday hangover.

44 Southwark Street, London, SE1 9HW
Sunday 16th September, 1pm – Midnight
Free entry

There will be London Mezcal Week maps available throughout the week, detailing the additional events, parties, tastings and dinners, as well as a range of bars serving special mezcal cocktails for one week only. Renowned mezcal forward venues taking part include Temper Soho, Café Pacifico, and Sin Gusano whilst some of London’s best-loved Mexican eateries Santo Remedio, Breddos Tacos and Bodega Negra will be
hosting events. Leading cocktail bars Callooh Callay, Super Lyan and Cocktail Trading Co. are also amongst those flying the mezcal flag.

For a full schedule of events and venues taking part visit http://www.londonmezcalweek.com

Newly Launched Mezcal Steals the Agave Crown

Corte Vetusto
While spirit connoisseurs have been excited in recent times by the tequila revolution, something far more exquisite has been sweeping the awards at the recent International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).

Arguably the biggest news to emerge from the IWSC was that a mezcal, not a tequila, had taken top honours in the agave category – a competition first. And a new-comer at that. Translated as ‘ancient cut’, Corte Vetusto is a range of single-origin, artisanal mezcals, respectfully hand-crafted in small batches from mature agave. By deliberately emphasising the agave flavours and ensuring the light mesquite smoke enhances the taste rather than dominating, the range is set to challenge consumer perceptions of mezcal and position the brand as a genuine sipping alternative to some of the world’s great spirits.

Making such an impact at launch has not gone unnoticed by some of the UK’s most discerning buyers. The premium Corte Vetusto mezcals now grace the shelves of Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, along with high-end establishments such as Nobu and Milk & Honey as well as on-trend Mexican venues – Breddos Tacos and Santo Remedio.

About the range:

Espadin
– Created from cultivated agave with a hint of wild agave to give it a distinct aroma and taste
– Double distilled in a 250L copper pot still
– Crisp, bright, agave-forward mezcal
– IWSC 2017 Gold Outstanding & Mezcal Trophy winner
– £59

Tobala
– Created from wild agave
– First distillation in a 250L copper pot still
– Second distillation in a 70L ancestral clay pot still
– The unique combination of copper and clay distillation delivers a mezcal of unrivalled sophistication and complexity
– £99

Ensamble
– Created from a blend of wild agave.
– Limited-edition, each batch will comprise a different blend
– First distillation in a 250L copper pot still
– Second distillation in a 70L ancestral clay pot still
– The unique combination of copper and clay distillation delivers a mezcal of unrivalled sophistication and complexity
– £99

With a premium artisanal product comes a dedicated handmade production process. With no scientific process to rely on, Corte Vetusto is created in Oaxaca, Mexico, according to time-honoured traditions by 4th generation ‘Master Mezcalero’, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Diaz. A watchful eye is required to create a cut of mezcal that passes his strict criteria. From harvesting, cooking and milling the agave to fermenting and distilling the liquid, this authentically craft spirit takes over a month to make each batch and is a real labour of love.

Corte Vetusto is the first brand created by passionate marketer David Shepherd. David’s vision is to develop a portfolio of spirits made by true artisans, who have dedicated themselves to respectfully upholding the traditions and values associated with these spirits.

Born in Singapore to British parents, David’s childhood saw him grow up in Mexico City and Cape Town before venturing off to Scotland for University and then settling in London in 2005. With such a passion for Mexico and its heritage, David was captivated by mezcal’s breadth of flavour, cultural significance and devotion to traditional production methods. Taking just 20 months to bring to market, with no previous drinks industry experience, the launch of Corte Vetusto is already an incredible achievement, watch this space – mezcal is officially on the map.

For more information visit:
https://www.cortevetusto.com/
https://www.facebook.com/VetustoMezcal/
@VetustoMezcal

Stockists:
Off-trade
– Harvey Nichols
– Selfridges
– Master of Malt
– The Whisky Exchange
– The Grocery
– The Bottle Apostle

On-trade
– Nobu Berkley Street and Park Lane
– Hutong
– Breddos Tacos
– Cartel
– Santo Remedio
– Milk & Honey
– Trailer Made Cocktails
– Tredwells
– Pitt Cue
– Hawksmoor

Estancia

estancia
Estancia is one of a handful of brands leading the way in the teachings of Raicilla, one of the many branches from Mezcal. When talking Mezcal, it encompasses such subcategories as Tequila, Sotol and Bacanora. Raicilla is also within these, seen as the softer, less smoky variation, closer to the Mezcal style, than that of Sotol which offers more grassy, smoky and earthy flavours.

It’s with this that Raicilla stands out as consumers branch out in their agave experiences, and Estancia is their to offer their take.

In 2014, Rio Chenery left New York City for the highlands of Jalisco in Mexico, and after reuniting with longtime friend Jonas Brewer, they set to building their own distillery. Settled within the town of La Estancia, they recruited Master Distiller Juan Ramosand the journey began.

To create Estancia, the distillation process begins by roasting their agave piñas (agave maximiliana ripened for 10 to 15 years) for 2 days within an adobe oven, resulting in the activation of the natural sugars within. The agave piñas are then crushed before being placed in open oak barrels to naturally ferment using wild yeast. Once ready, the resulting liquid (wort) is double distilled within copper alembic stills.

But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Estancia – 40%

Fresh agave notes upon the nose, with a thin scent of earth and citrus coming through. Slightly sweetened earth notes on the palate, with the agave profile creeping in, followed by juicy pineapple and plum that lingers to the finish.

A great spirit to enjoy on its own, nut equally as good within this adapted cocktail by Wine Mag

raisilla-the-prietoniThe Prietoni

Glass – 

Coupette

Ingredients – 

50 ml Estancia Raicilla
30 ml Campari
30 ml Sweet vermouth
Strip of orange peel, for garnish

Method – 

In a mixing glass, combine all liquid ingredients with ice. Stir well, and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with orange peel.

There’s a new category hitting the shores of the UK, and it’s versatile, which means that it’s worthy of showing off to your friends and family, especially when the bottles looks pretty cool within your drink cabinet!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Agave Tequila Another Go: Tequila & Mezcal Fest Returns For Its Third Year

tequila fest

Raise a toast to Mexico’s much loved (and often misunderstood) liquid export as Tequila & Mezcal Fest makes a triumphant return on 17th and 18th September 2016 for a third consecutive year, and is the UK’s first ever and only festival dedicated exclusively to showcasing the very best bits of Mexico in what continues to be the greatest ever agave extravaganza.

The event is to take place in a brand new – and bigger – venue, setting up shop in the Boiler House at the iconic Truman Brewery, in East London’s vibrant Brick Lane, where you can soak in the ambiance, tastes, smells and music of colonial and modern Mexico.

Due to last year’s unprecedented success which saw just under 3000 enthusiasts descend upon the capital, the day will be broken up into two sessions, afternoon and evening, ensuring there’s enough agave love to go around.

Tequila Fest is delighted to announce Patron tequila as one of the main partners of the festival, Patrón Tequila will be returning to Tequila Fest in 2016 as a main sponsor, offering visitors the chance to try their traditionally handcrafted 100% Weber Blue Agave tequilas, experience the very latest in digital technology to transport them to the Highlands of Jalisco and learn about tequila production and the exclusive opportunity to buy and try the ‘Margarita of The Year 2016’, as the Rosa Picante makes its first guest appearance outside of Mexico and North America. This exciting collaboration is a must see for cocktail aficionados and Tequila imbibers across the country and not to be missed!

In addition, Fentimans are proud to be the official mixer sponsor for this year’s Tequila & Mezcal Fest. Proving itself to be the perfect accompaniment to Mexico’s most famous firewater, the brand will be two creating signature cocktails, one with Peloton de la Muerte Mezcal and the other with headlining spirit Patron.

Some of the UK’s finest brand ambassadors and bartenders will be back to hold seminars and masterclasses on the art of Mexican cocktail making, such as the classic Margarita. A line up of last year supporters and new brands have joined the party too, including Patron, Olmeca, Casco Viejo, Herradura, Ocho, Fortaleza, El Jolgorio Mezcal, Nuestra Soledad Mezcal, Mezcales de Leyenda, Herencia de Plata, Amores Mezcal giving visitors the chance to discover new favourites.

Food connoisseurs will be treated to a choice of some of the capital’s most celebrated and authentic Mexican restaurants, with Barrio Bars, Lupita, Camion, Cafe Pacifico, Condesa, DF/Mexico, and all pitching up to serve hungry and thirsty revelers.

And to prove that there’s more to Mexico the creative, cultural heritage of the country will be in full bloom with a mariachi band, folklore dancers, an Aztec ceremony performance, art exhibition by artist Honorio Robledo and a photographic exhibition dedicated to the agave process.

Born with one objective, Tequila and Mezcal Fest aims to educate consumers on how to drink and enjoy Mexico’s greatest export – there will be no salt and lime, slammers and definitely no tiny novelty sombreros.
Date: 17th & 18th September 2015

Session times:
Saturday Afternoon: from 12noon to 4:30pm
Saturday Evening: from 5pm to 9:30pm
Sunday Afternoon: from 11:30am to 4pm
Sunday evening from 4:30 to 9pm

Tickets:
Early bird £15 or £20 at the door

Place: The Boiler house at the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane

Tickets: http://www.tequilafest.co.uk/buy-now-london/use code ‘drinksenthusiast’ and receive a £5.00 discount!

Aprendiz and Pescador de Sueños

Aprendiz
Mezcal has grown to new heights in the last 18 months, with brands offering a range of expressions as the flavour profile becomes more acceptable with the growing demand for variety by the general public. With this combined with renewed focus on training for bartenders, mezcal is enjoying its biggest boom since its days tagged at tequila’s big brother.

Aprendiz is one such brand that has come to the shores of the UK, but offering a different outlook on the category, instead focusing on the more concerned crowd who may have only just got their tongue around tequila, never mind mezcal.

Hailing from the Santa Sabia distillery in San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca, the family owned brand prides itself in producing a fantastic selection of angustifolia-variety agaves, leading to softer flavours coming through, alongside the characteristic of smoke. The only version available in the UK (there are three overall) is the Aprendiz Joven Espadin, meaning that this certain expression uses 7 year old Espadin agave, cooked within a conical stone oven after being crushed using the Tahona method (by horse too). The fermentation tub is made of Sabina wood, then distilled twice within a copper pot still, all created by Mezcal Master Isaias Martinez.

Aprendiz comes from the same family who produce the Pescador de Sueños range of mezcal, expressions that offer up flavours for those who can really immerse themselves in the mezcal category.

PescadorHoused within hand-crafted, high-temperature ceramic flasks, there are currently twenty two different varieties of Pescador de Sueños available, but seven of them are the expressions you will see the most of, including Cuishe, Tobala, Arroqueno, Cuixito, Bicuixe, Coyote and Pechuga. Each expression is produced using different agave types, grown by Isaias Martinez and his family, and depending on the time of year, will be harvested once ripe. Although this does mean that these small-batched expressions will ultimately run low at points, their focus on 100% organic, using traditional methods, means that the wait for them to re re-released is always seen as a celebration.

But how does Aprendiz and the Pescador de Sueños range fair? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –

Aprendiz Joven Espadin – 38%

Light whispers of smoke upon the nose, wrapped with the flesh of orange and cardamon. A more subtle smoked flavour on the palate, instead giving way to cracked black pepper, cedar wood and stoned fruits. A long finish of cinder, with hints of apple and tobacco.

Pescador de Sueños Pechuga – 48%

Pechuga agave aged for 8 years by Mezcal Master Felix Angeles, crushed organically by a manual wooden hammer.
Fresh coriander on the nose, with hints of bold caramel. Soft sweetness comes through, followed by ripe green fruits, leading to a mouth-watering, freshly baked agave finish.

Pescador de Sueños Arroqueno – 48.4%

Arroqueno agave aged for 20 years by Mezcal Master Fernando Mitra, crushed organically by a manual wooden hammer, then distilled twice within clay pots.
Soft fudge and cocoa on the nose, with sweetened raisins coming through. A sharp, bold kick of fresh cocoa bean, with the vanilla coming through slowly, before hitting a buttered cake finish.

Pescador de Sueños Cuishe – 49%

Cuishe agave aged for 12 years by Mezcal Master Leoncio, crushed using the Tahona method, then distilled twice within a copper pot still.
Soft vanilla and toffee notes on the nose, with subtle dried prune coming through. A slight sharpness of baked agave hits first, followed by coffee beans and citrus zest, with white pepper on the finish.

Pescador de Sueños Coyote – 50.7%

Very light and thin on the nose, with soft notes of baked earth. Heavy viscosity on the palate, offering up baked rye bread, fudge and a hint of cocoa as it finishes.

An amazing range of expressions, and it really does go away from the usual smoked profile you can see with similar brands. As you can imagine, the Pescador de Sueños range are tended to head towards the sippers of the mezcal world, but Aprendiz works wonders in one of these –

Fresh Divina

Glass –

Martini / Sling

Ingredients – 

60 ml Aprendiz Espadin
5 Strawberries
30 ml Sugar Syrup
30 ml Coco Real Coconut Cream
60 ml Strawberry Juice

Method – 

Blend the ingredients together for 30 seconds, then stir over ice vigorously. Serve and garnish with grated coconut.

Although not all are widely available, as mentioned previously, the lineup changes depending on when the agave is ready. An essential for your drinks cabinet for sure.

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mezcal Vago

Mezcal Vaga

Mezcal is the next big thing for 2015. Here in Manchester, the category awareness has grown and specialist bars and restaurants have popped up to bring Mezcal to the public. One of the more interesting brands to hit the category here in the UK, is Mezcal Vago.

This specific Mezcal has been created by Aquilino García López and his family (Aquilino is the father-in-law of Mezcal Vago’s co-founder, Judah Kuper) for many a generation (the start date is lost in time) within the small village of Candeleria Yegolé on the border of Central Valley and Sierra Sur regions of Oaxaca in Mexico. Candeleria Yegolé is known to be an arid region of Oaxaca, making the conditions perfect for making Mezcal, especially with the close proximity of the confluence of two rivers.

Aquilino uses a traditional stone tahona to grind the cooked agave. a method that can take a couple of weeks if grinding a full oven of agave. Once ground down, the agave and its released juices are placed together into fermentation vats that are made of pine and can hold up to 1000 litres. The cooked agave and natural water ferment from the natural airborne yeasts in the air.

Now lets dive into each of the expressions, all created with hand care and attention –

Mezcal Vago Espadin – 51%

Twice distilled within copper pot stills using 100% Espadin agave and certified Joven (young) in age. Ripe on the nose with a slight smoke aroma coming through followed by light citrus. Ripe agave flavours upon the palate, with hints of anise and dry pine and a lingering caramel on the finish.

Mezcal Vago Elote – 52.1%

Twice distilled within copper pot stills using 100% Espadin agave, infused with Elote (toasted corn) and certified Joven in age. Plenty of expected corn on the nose alongside rich, sweet honey. A developing spice on the palate, dry, with plenty of corn green fruit and a good kick of smoke on the finish.

Mezcal Vago Ensamble en Barro – 50.3%

Crafted by Tio Rey in Sola De Vega. Twice distilled within Olla de Barro (clay) stills using 54% Espadin, 36% Coyote and 10% Cerrudo agave’s and certified Joven in age.
Soft pine needle aromas on the nose, with earthy notes present too. Full bodied with flavours of charred cinnamon and finishes with notes of pumpkin and chestnuts.

Mezcal Vago Mexicano – 49.4%

Twice distilled within copper pot stills using 90% Mexicano and 10% Espadin agave and certified Joven in age. Plenty of agave notes on the nose combined with light peach and dry spice. Notes of oak creating a slight smoky experience on the palate, with a lively spice, vanilla, caramel combination for the finish.

Some fantastic expressions here, and are perfect for sipping any day of the year. With a very local, hand produced feel to them, you expect to be surrounded by the hills of Oaxaca when drinking Mezcal Vago, but I’m sure with friends will be just as fine in your local bar, as currently there seems to be no UK stockist. I’ll keep you updated on this as this is most definitely a brand to experience.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Marca Negra

Marca Negra

Marca Negra is the latest addition to the UK’s growing Mezcal market. I’ve managed to get my teeth into some this past month, after realising that I am yet to feature a Mezcal on my site.

But what is Mezcal?

Well Mezcal is essentially a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant (a form of agave) that is native to Mexico. The world ‘Mezcal’ comes from ‘Nahuatl mexcalli’, which essentially means ‘oven cooked agave’. The maguey grows in many parts of Mexico, although most Mezcal is made in Oaxaca.

Today, mezcal is still made from the heart of the maguey plant, called the ‘piña’, much the same way it was 200 years ago when the Spanish were introduced to the native drink, also made from the maguey plant, named pulque. It is here that the Spanish started to experiment with distilling, resulting in Mezcal.

Two expressions are made of the Marca Negra – Espadín and Tobalá. Each is a pure form of the type of agave used (Espadín, however, is the most commonly used agave for Mezcal). The Marca Negra range though is double distilled within copper pot stills before resting and bottling.

As mentioned, I’ve been lucky enough to experience Marca Negra, the Tobalá to be exact, so below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Marca Negra Tobalá – 48%

Dry spice on the nose with light aromas of grass coming through. Smooth on the palate with light whisps of smoke, alongside aromatic spice and dry peat. Stunning.

My belief is to just sip this alone, add nothing. But I did come across one recipe which shows off the versatility (apologies of the name . . . .)

Miley Citrus
Miley Citrus

Miley Citrus

Glass – 

Hurricane

Ingredients – 

60 ml Marca Negra Mezcal
25 ml fresh lime juice
25 ml fresh lemon juice
30 ml orange juice
15 ml sugar syrup

Method –

Combine in ice-filled shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into tall glass. Garnish with orange wheel.

To me, and Mexican culture, Mezcal is to be enjoyed on its own, after a dinner for example. Nothing wrong with mixing it within a cocktail, but I personally think Marca Negra is one to savour, sip and enjoy. Grab yourself a bottle if you can (you can’t miss it, the distinct black hand print holding the bottle is an instant eye-catcher), and experience the world of Mezcal.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cocktail Of The Week – Onion Weed Julep

The latest Cocktail of the Week by collaborator and Head Barmen at the Vineyard at Stockcross David Coveney combines a couple of David’s favourite ingredients, including the often overlooked Mezcal –

Onion Weed Julep
Onion Weed Julep

Onion Weed Julep

Glass – 

Julep Cup or Rocks

Ingredients – 

50 ml Ilegal Mezcal Joven
25 ml Blossoms Syrup Passion Fruit
10 Onion Weed Leaves
4 Mint Leaves
1 Spoon of brown sugar

Method –

Muddle, crush and mix all ingredients well with crushed and cubed ice.