How Penny Pound Ice and Fairmont Century Plaza came to be.

by: Gordon Bellaver

August 20, 2021

A note from Dan Sabo, Director of Food & Beverage, Fairmont Century Plaza

I first met Gordon Bellaver in 2014, when he joined our team at Upstairs at Ace Hotel. Thanks in part to a friendship with Penny Pound Ice owner, Eric Alperin, the Ace Hotel already had the distinction of being one (if not the) first clients of Penny Pound outside of the 213 Group (now known as Pouring with Heart) family of bars and restaurants. Gordon, who was also working at The Varnish during that time, would eventually abandon me to work full time there, before ultimately taking over operations at Penny Pound - which clearly worked out for him. I've been lucky enough to have Gordon and Eric as not only contemporaries in the space, but also as friends, and their passion for hospitality, innovation, and of course, ice, continue to impress and influence me and my approach. To wit, we’re even teaming up with PPI to innovate cocktail service in our hotel rooms utilizing their Penny Pouches to be shaken up to order by our In Room Dining team or the guests themselves. Gordon, Eric, and Penny Pound Ice are forever partners of mine, and my venues are always better for it.
Fun fact: Dan and Gordon will only speak to each other in ALL CAPS.


If you want to nerd out, the scientific benefits of big ice ABOUND!!! A larger piece of ice means two important things: 1) less dilution – which means your drink does not taste super watery and 2) a colder drink – because there are fewer contact points, that one block of ice is going to chill that drink down colder, for longer, without dilution. But you know why it REALLY is important: it looks super PRETTY!!!!!!
We eat (or drink) with our eyes. Tell me, if you look at an Old Fashioned with 1 big ROCK next to an Old Fashioned with some random ice cubes – are you not going to go for that big guy? DO IT FOR THE GRAM… is a saying, so I’ve heard.


Some guy, named Eric Alperin, likes to talk about ice being the equivalent to a chef’s flame. You “cook” the drink – chill it down, make it more palatable, and incorporate it. If you have a lot of ice, you will make it colder FAST, but you will dilute it way more. If you have one big piece of ice, it is going to allow for a colder drink without diluting. It also makes a really FUN sound when you shake it and not to mention, it gives good (froth) – the foam at the top of the drink.


I don’t like to divulge our secrets, but let’s say it has a combination of unicorn tears, dragon hearts and tears of a virgin.
Actually, I get asked a lot about the WATER that goes into the drink and in-truth, for the ice we make, it is not the most important part. For the ice at your HOME, it is. Ice can absorb aromas so be careful about that frozen fish in your freezer. But if you have ever wondered why ice cubes are cloudy (and I KNOW you have) it is because there are natural mineralities occurring in water which helps to give water flavor. I do not suggest ever drinking purely distilled water. BUT ANYHOO….water has flavor and those impurities, when frozen, turn white. ¬
OUR machines use these pumps that keep those impurities from ever settling and so, in effect, cannot turn the ice cloudy. So our ice is clear!!! Clinebells were designed for ice sculptors and we have just repurposed them to bring you better drinks!!!