SA Life

Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
January 25, 2024

Putting the chill in cocktail culture

Pillar Ice Co. is bringing crystal clear ice cubes to Adelaide's bar scene. Are South Australians ready for this next step in cocktail culture?

  1. 1
  2. 2
  • Words and pictures: Claudia Dichiera

When CityMag meets with Lachlan Gunner, owner of Pillar Ice Co., he reiterates that this is a conversation about ice cubes, not ice.


Pillar Ice Co.
Fill out an order form to place an order of Pillar Ice Co. cubes


“I have to specifically say ice cubes,” Lachlan says about one drawback of owning an ice company in a capital city that tops Australia in the consumption of methylamphetamine.

“The misnomers do come around.”

Pillar Ice Co. specialises in high-end ice cubes. These, in particular, are a singular, larger cube, and are meticulously made by Lachlan’s supplier outside of Adelaide.

Lachlan says the perfect ice cube should do two things: chill your drink and delay the dilution of water into the alcohol.

“You’re adding the water from the ice to the drink, so the quality of the water matters,” Lachlan says.

“And when you’re chilling it, the main thing that affects that is the surface area of the ice: so how much surface area to volume ratio an ice cube has.

“Think about shaking a drink with crushed ice versus one big block. The crushed ice by the time you shake it, most of it’s going to melt into water, right? It’s a pretty cold drink, but most of it’s water.”

Lachlan’s hands were frozen after this


The benefits of a single ice cube are suited to specific cocktails that “change quite quickly with dilution and benefit from being very cold” he says.

“A big cube will dilute slower, so for a drink to keep its quality, you want it to dilute slowly but you also want it to be cold, right?” Lachlan asks.

“An old fashioned is a good example of that. A bartender will stir it on ice – and that’s usually cubed ice – to a point where they’re happy with how much dilution and how much chilling power it’s got.

“Then they’ll pour that into a glass and add a large block of ice because [it’s] one of the best options to keep the drink cold without diluting it further before the guest gets to drink.”


New here? Sign up to receive the latest happenings from around our city, sent every Thursday afternoon.

Lachlan lists negronis and whiskeys as drinks that go hand in hand with Pillar Ice Co.’s offerings. He also says that his ice complements those production labels that care so deeply about the quality of the drinking experience.

“When you spend all this time and energy into creating a product and then it is mixed with bad ice, at the end of the day, my glass is not the most paramount experience it can be, it’s a bit of a shame,” Lachlan says.

“That even extends to the point where some whiskey aficionados say ‘don’t even have it with ice’. A lot of people would say it’s neat or it’s nothing.”

The crystal clear rocks


Pillar Ice Co. offer two different types of cubes: the pillar, which is a long column, and the rocks, which is a square and is pictured above.

“It’s designed so that you get a lot of ice in a different shape of glass, but keeping those qualities we were talking about,” Lachlan says.

When CityMag looks down the centre of a perfect rocks ice cube, we can see straight through it. It’s crystal clear.

Lachlan says this process is called “directional freezing”.

“Usually when you throw something in a freezer because the whole freezer’s cold, it freezes from the outside in. So if you’ve got something that’s room temperature, the edges and the sides will freeze first, and it will freeze towards the centre… and that’s where that white part of the ice cube comes from is where it has nowhere else to go and compresses,” Lachlan says.

“So directional freezing is instead of coming from all directions, you come from one direction and that side of the item will freeze first and then go from one side to the other.

“Then at the very end, it’ll hit a wall or something… there’s a thin layer of ice on that side as well, and it will still have that compression factor but it will be on one side of the cube which people can cut off. But generally, to save time, instead of cutting it off, they’ll just stop the freezing process.”

To make this process easier, Lachlan says the “industry standard” freezer is the Clinebell — the same equipment used to make ice sculptures.


Lachlan began this business after working in cocktail bars in Sydney and seeing the ice cube industry grow and evolve. He took inspiration from Bare Bones Ice Co., a Sydney-based company with a similar ice cube ethos, and wanted to bring that home.

We ask if Lachlan thinks Adelaide is ready for this specific type of ice and he says “it comes with cocktail culture”.

“The ice specifically, it follows cocktail culture and Adelaide is growing… like we grow really, really tasty fruit and vegetables and that I think extends itself through to the food industry and then by extension to drinks as well,” he says.

Pillar Ice Co. is currently stocked at Lachlan’s cocktail bar Trap., and at places such as La Louisiane, Leigh Street Luggage and Restaurant Botanic.

Head to the website to order a batch of cubes or connect with them on Instagram for more.

Share —