2009-02-24

Las Vegas Ice Lounge

The Minus 5 Ice Lounge recently replaced a wine bar in Las Vegas's Mandalay Bay. Wired had a fascinating article about the process and construction a few months ago.

Here's the problem: Mass-producing frozen swans is a lot more complicated than making punch bowls. The best industrial icemaker, from a company called Clinebell, is about the size of a copy machine, weighs 575 pounds, and takes three days to turn 44 gallons of water into two 280-pound blocks. So the first thing Bayley needed was space for a lot of Clinebells.

Fortunately, being in the middle of nowhere has its advantages. Bayley bought a 3,000-square-foot barn for $50,000 and installed 20 ice cabinets. Plus, water from the town well was free in Hensall. He determined that his work should meet restaurant health codes (no one eats ice sculptures, but people do occasionally eat off of them), so he also installed a reverse-osmosis filtration system. His ice would be crystal clear.

...More

The GF and I spent some time there during a recent trip to Vegas. Sure, it's a bit chillier than the 60 degrees I like to keep my apartment at, but it's still quite pleasant.

The ice lounge is really two bars. One is in the freezer, which is kept at -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit). The other is right outside the freezer, with a lodge like feel so visitors can warm up with another drink.

Normally, the cover is about $30. During Saturday afternoon, for each of us, it was just $20 and that included two drinks. Yes, I know that if I lived in Minnesota I could just step outside with a shot glass for free, but that's not the point.

The cover includes 30 minutes in the freezer. Before you go in, they wrap you up in a parka, detachable hood (presumably for easy cleaning), plastic food handling gloves, and big poofy mittens. You can run a tab using a small electonic device on a tether, which is important, because there is simply no way to handle a wallet with those mittens.

The friendly and chilly looking bar tenders pour up boozy beverages in ice glasses. The benches and tables are all made from ice. The walls are covered with blocks of ice. Animal skins (don't know if they are real or fake) cover the benches to keep them comfortable for seating.

There are ice scupltures in the room. And unlike at a ridiculously expensive wedding, the ice sculptures don't mealt away in a day. They still had Valentines Day and Superbowl ice sculptures on display.

Drinking is a bit of a challenge. You have to hold the ice glass between your two large mittens and tilt it into your mouth. As you drink, the think rim of the cup slowly melts away and assumes the shape of your lips. It's cold enough in there that the rest of the glass stays intact.

And with the parka, it's quite pleasant in there. The air is dry so you don't get the kind of cold that cuts to the bone on the east coast. Instead, you feel it in your cheeks and in your nose.

The ubiquitous Vegas club/event photographer popped in and out, posing people and taking pictures that were later for sale for $25 for three copies of one photo. Unlike the bartenders, she seemed more comfortable in her environment, hopping around in thin hoody and jeans. Of course I imagine it's difficult to run a camera well in a parka.

Before we left, group of twenty-something guys came in with 2 or 3 women. Of course, once they had their drinks, the guys had to take off their parkas and shirts to pose and flex for the camera while wearing their hoods.

Next of course, each one had to pose on the ice table. This table is 4 feet off the ground, and for those of you not familiar with ice, is both slippery and cold. Of course, it only took one to pose. He struggled to get up on this thing and not slide face first and topless to the ground.

He managed to do it, but I was sure this was going to turn into a Fark.Com story. His friends, being guys, of course, each had to take their turn on the pommel horse of a table. Afterall, they couldn't let him show them up, especially in front the women. By the time the third guy got up, his only option was to lie chest down on frozen block.

All to the encouragement of the photographer. Drunk guys + Proving their manhood = $$$$ It's a well-known formula.

And thought to myself, "You know, if I was 15 years younger, and had consumed a lot more alcohol, that could have been me."

Minus 5 is very cool, and no, I'm not apologizing for the pun. It's may be a little pricey, but it's fun, and it's a great fit for a weekend in Vegas.

1 comment:

Dwacon® said...

Maybe I need to go to Vegas...