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On the Rocks: The Best Ice Bars of the World

I will be the first to admit that I generally prefer my wintertime relaxation activities to be as warm as possible. Give me a roaring fireplace and a hot toddy any day and I will happily loiter for months next to any heat source until Mother Nature has the decency to let the birds and flowers come back. I keep waiting for some enterprising genius in Portland to open up a sauna-themed tavern wherein a good sweat session could be capped off with a large, heady mug of cold lager.

That said, I must concede that there are certain advantages to taking the local watering hole and freezing it solid. For starters, the drinks won’t get warm. The dress code is one of comfort and functionality, which is a refreshing change from the halter tops and heels in the usual nightclub. Some bars have an ice luge, which is an entertaining way to chill and aerate vodka. Others serve the drink in a vessel made of ice. Of course, there is the novelty factor: Sipping a drink in an ice bar is an unusual experience. Visually, these bars are gorgeous, with glossy sculptures all around, accented by expert lighting design. It’s like drinking inside of a diamond, or Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. A visit to such a drinkery will surely set the stage for an enjoyable evening out with your companions.

One of the best things about traveling is that you are given the opportunity to try things you have never before experienced and test the boundaries of your comfort zone. Even a heat fiend like myself would love to sample chilled nectars in the ice bars of these fabulous cities!

The Best Ice Bars in the World

Ice Bar Dubai

The gorgeous interior of Chillout Dubai

Dubai, UAE
Dubai is a city of luxury and glamour, and with the long flat stretches of desert highway, it is a perfect place to cruise in a rental car. Between lounging in the most gorgeous beach-side resorts and marveling at incredible triumphs of modern architecture, you may find yourself getting a little toasty. That’s why Chillout Dubai provides a rare chance to enjoy a little bit of cool. In this large and crystalline sanctuary, you can relax and take a brief reprieve from the heat. Guests are provided with gloves and parkas to keep the bite off the 20F temperature. As they specialize in serving designer mocktails, hot chocolate and tasty snacks, teetotalers will love it here!

London, England
London is a city that is inherently hip. This makes sense: It’s had more than 2,000 years of practice in growth, change and redefinition! There is something to suit everyone’s taste in the city of Dickens, Shakespeare and Bond. If the nightlife of this bustling hub could be described with one sentence, it would be by Henry James, who said, “London is on the whole the most possible form of life.” The glamorous traveler will enjoy the captivating offerings of the city, including the resident glacial tavern. As the only permanent ice bar in the UK, Icebar London is kept at a brisk 23 F Fahrenheit. They specialize in potent cocktails, and the silver capes they provide lend a keen sense of drama to the whole affair. Once guest re-emerge from their Siberian adventure, they have the chance to warm themselves in the heated lounge area while enjoying gourmet small plates.

Las Vegas, USA
When you think of Las Vegas, it’s doubtful that you think of ice. Among the palm trees and casinos, this well-loved desert playground provides poolside decadence, world-class live events, and scores of exquisite dining opportunities. When you are cruising the Vegas strip, living la vida dolce, you can bring magic to your night by stopping in at the Minus5 Ice Bar for a quick nip of wintertime! Like all things Las Vegas, this establishment is big, bawdy and spectacularly gorgeous! Minus5 was the first of its kind in the United States and has seen so much enthusiasm for this wintry atmosphere that they have also opened locations in New York City and Orlando, and a second location in Las Vegas.

Ice Cups

Many ice-themed establishments serve up chilled spirits in cups made of ice!

Stockholm, Sweden
If you have a lot of sand, the sensible thing to do is throw a beach party. If the same principle applies to other abundant materials, it would make sense that Sweden birthed the ice bar phenomenon. Not only is the trendy Icebar in Stockholm the first year round frozen drinking establishment in the world, there is an Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, where guests can opt to sleep within the cold glassy sculptures. Auto Europe provides so many convenient car rental locations in Sweden that it is truly a breeze to navigate the cosmopolitan city of Stockholm, or start an intensely Arctic adventure with a car rental in Kiruna!

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Famous for its relaxed party atmosphere and gorgeous views of the North Sea, Amsterdam is a charming town to visit in all seasons. If you are in the city to explore the nearby medieval villages and fields of windmills in a rental car, you won’t be disappointed. However, if your travels to Amsterdam involve a little bit of celebration, you won’t be disappointed by Xtracold, a specialty tavern that has reached a new low—temperature-wise, that is. They maintain a frosty 14F inner temperature and provide special outerwear to their guests. They also include a brief 3D film in the experience and redecorate every year with 30 tons of ice, so this experience is both brisk and one of a kind, every time!

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