While ice bars aren't as impressive as a complete ice hotel—thank you Sweden—visiting an ice bar near you keeps getting easier. The first permanent indoor ice bar was built in 2002 at the Nordic Sea Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. Since then, the U.S. has certainly worked on catching up. Cities like Las Vegas, Orlando, Beverly Hills, and Boston can all boast ice bar attractions. Even certain Norwegian Cruise Line ships are starting to put ice bars onboard. We got a quick peek at New York’s ice bar, minus5, before it opened in July.
Constructing Icy Magic
Inside Hilton’s Midtown Hotel, minus5 began construction in January 2013. They started with a specialized unit that creates a mini microclimate. This keeps the bar the perfect icy temperature.
Next, world-renowned ice sculptor Peter Slavin and his team began to hand-carve 80 tons of ice. Everything in the bar is made of the stuff, from the walls and benches to the sculptures and chandeliers.
While minus5’s inaugural New York design paid homage to Central Park, they have an ice carver who changes the bar and sculptures every 6 to 8 weeks. Every time you visit you’re likely to find a whole new bar on the inside.
Keeping it Chill
The 1000 square foot bar at minus5 stays at a constant temperature of 23 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus five degrees Celsius (hence the name minus5). Before entering the ice bar, guests get outfitted in insulated jackets and gloves. This not only keeps you warm, but also keeps the room from melting underneath everyone’s body heat. Don't make the mistake of wearing open-toed shoes. It’s been proven that your feet have special blood vessels that control cooling and warming. Consider that fun fact before planning your ice bar excursion.
Imbibing on Ice
When visiting minus5, and most other ice bars, you can’t treat it like you’re hitting up a regular bar. In fact, going to an ice bar feels closer to checking out an art gallery or a small amusement park—a small amusement park with booze. And like any amusement park, there is an admission fee, a photographer roaming around taking photos, and a feeling of novelty. The novelty continues in the details; even all the drinks are served out of glasses made completely of ice. They have a long list of fun specialty vodka cocktails, as well as a full bar for all your other favorites. The current guest favorite? The Icy Margarita. Drinks are not included in a basic admission fee, so there’s another tip to keep in mind pre-icy visit.
Whether you’re visiting New York this summer or going to a warmer location this fall, you may want to add ice bar to your vacation bucket list. It may not be as novel as an ice hotel, but it’s a close second in the world of frozen water. And with the U.S.’s hot and/or humid weather this summer, who hasn’t begged for a little snow and ice?