In a giant refrigerator off the lobby of the Midtown Hilton you'll find (if you want to) New York City's very first (and only) bar made mostly out of frozen water (ice). Originally created in New Zealand, this ice bar has everything: ice, vodka, ice sculptures, mocktails, faux-fur, frozen water, ice, and causally uncouth racial Othering.
New Zealand's hottest export isn't just sheep and the Shire, it's ice. What kind of ice? "100% pure Canadian." Glasses, benches, walls, and various sculptures are made of ice. The curious name? Good question. Minus5° is actually the temperature the bar is kept at (23 degrees Fahrenheit). That is below freezing temperature (32°F) for water (H20), therefore causing all water inside to be frozen. OK?
On the subway train, I felt like this.
The Minus5° Ice Bar is the coolest and hottest but also coldest new bar in the warmest and oldest city but also inside of a hotel? Cool down on a hot summer day with a cool drink in this hot, cold bar. Make money, spend it! Fun times with new friends. Midtown.
Suiting up, sans-tuxedo, I was preparing for something like this. Cautiously optimistic, though, that it would be a bit less shaky and out of focus than the movies. The reality was more like this:
It's cold inside, to keep the water frozen into ice, which is what the entire bar is made out of. In a major metropolitan city like the Big Apple, summers are the hottest thing around town!
But inside the Ice Bar, it is cool as ice. So you'll have to bundle up. Like the "Eskimos" did. Minus5° says it best: Wear authentic "Eskimo-like ice gear which includes insulated jackets, gloves and boots." Relax on deer-skin covered ice futons sipping vodka-cocktails from ice glasses made only of the purest NZ artesian water. Those "Eskimo" hats are also for sale ($35).
In what is surely the boldest move of the Summer, PIX 11 declared that New York's hottest new bar, Minus5°, is "actually very chill, giving summer the cold shoulder."
The hottest ticket to cool down is $20 dollars, which gets you inside the freezer. The admission fee includes a parka loaner, or $45 gets the Fur Coat upgrade, and $95 gets you the "V.I.P. Experience - Souvenir Russian Hat" (I thought it was "Eskimo"?), one 5 x 7 framed photo and one ice-cold vodka cocktail. The signature vodka drinks have names like "The Big Apple, Avalanche, Snowflake, Icy Margarita, IceMan, Frosty Mojito, Frozen A$$ets." Just an Absolut on ice for me, thanks.
The mocktail nomenclature was understandably kid-friendly: "Lime Igloo, Snowman, Jack Frost, Icicle."
Just The Facts Ma'am:
- It holds about 60 people.
- It is smaller than expected.
- It gets cold.
- After about 30 minutes, I started to get cold.
- It was 10° colder in there that day.
- The ice looks cool (and cold), as do the LED lights.
- If I had children, I would be happy that I could take them there.
- I think that they would be happy to go there.
- It is cheaper than tickets to Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.
- There were not many people in there at the preview.
- It could have been more fun with more people.
- It took 14 days to sculpt all the ice.
- There was no drinking.
- It was 10 a.m.
- There should have been drinking.
- It probably takes a lot of energy to keep cold.
- Contrary to other reports, there were no hot penguins or cold women.
Sensing trouble, I knew our time there was coming to a close. It will be here long after you.
The Minus5 Ice Bar Experience is located at 1335 6th Avenue, between West 53rd and 54th Streets.