Are ice bars the new Starbucks? You know, one on every corner?
Once upon a time – and not all that long ago – the concept a true oddity. The first one I remember hearing about back in the '90s was attached to the Icehotel in northern Sweden – a village called Jukkasjärvi, to be precise, where every year artisans and other experts in all things ice get together to build a temporary structure that attracts thousands of curiosity seekers. While charming, be aware that the property isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t just ice themed; it’s literally made of ice, so unless -- like Elsa in Frozen – the cold really doesn’t bother you, bring a sweater.
Quebec also boasts its own version of an ice hotel, which, like its Swedish counterpart, also closes – er, melts – every spring.
Eventually, clever entrepreneurs realized that the appeal of an overnight stay in an ice hotel is likely to be limited, so the idea of the ice bar, where people can get a taste of the experience without the commitment, was born.
The first one I experienced was the Icebar in Copenhagen, where staff were on hand to dole out massive capes, mittens and boots before ushering visitors in small groups into the bar.
The interior of the smallish space boasted a couple of ice sculptures, including a motorcycle, which proved to be one of the few places to sit. The bar itself was also made of ice, as were the glasses the drinks were served in.
As to the drinks themselves, don’t even think about ordering wine or a mixed drink. Vodka and in some cases, champagne, are on offer, and typically the price of admission is good for one drink.
Although the Copenhagen bar has since closed, the good news for fans of the idea can now find them, well, just about everywhere – and not just in cold climates.
Try Minus 5 in Vegas – not exactly the land of the Polar Vortex, for example, or Spain’s Icebarcelona, which bills itself as the first ice bar on a beach.
Can’t decide on a destination? How about trying one on a cruise ship? Norwegian Cruise Line offers an ice bar on several of its ships, including the new Getaway, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is operating an ice bar on its newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to begin sailing in November.