Amid the summer heat, New York City locals and tourists are finding refuge in a frosty new addition to Manhattan's bar scene.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (JULY 8, 2013) (REUTERS) - Amid excessive heat warnings in New York City tourists and locals were finding refuge in a frosty new addition to Manhattan's bar scene on Monday (July 8) . It's called Minus5, an ice bar located a dozen blocks north of Times Square at theNew York Hilton at 1335 Sixth Avenue.
About 50 people can fit in the nippy 1,200 square feet (111 square meter) space as they sip vodka-based concoctions in meltable ice glasses shipped fromPhiladelphia, Minneapolis and Las Vegas.
The wintry Central Park room is lined with trees etched into ice walls and park benches lined with deer skins. Robert Olivieri who was visiting from Dallas, Texassaid he agreed on a whim to test out Minus5 with friends.
"Clearly we're not at a normal bar. Yeah, this is pretty cool so far. I've never really been in anything like this before. The cold doesn't really bother me too much but it's pretty cool."
For a $20 (USD) cover charge guests are outfitted with parkas and gloves. Another $25 and they can opt for brown faux fur. Or for an extra $75 visitors get the VIP package, which combines a faux fur plus hat, cocktail and a souvenir photo.
The Eskimo clad patrons are first escorted to a chamber registering a brisk 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius). Here they can transition before saddling up to the bar made of solid ice and experiencing the final 23 degrees F (five degrees C), which gives the frigid drinkery its name.
"The ice sculptures are beautiful and we just came because out feet were cold" said Manhattanite Theresa Buccellato taking a break in the lobby. "So we just came to warm up a little bit and the we're going to go back in."
Built of blocks of ice, some weighing 250 pounds (113 kg) or more each this Arctic watering hole represents a $5 million dollar investment adding to two other locations, the Mandalay Bay and Monte Carlo Casinos in Las Vegas.
"We put a couple of million dollars into some serious computerized refrigeration equipment that really take into effect ambient heat, body heat, humidity, summertime, wintertime, volume of people coming in and out. It's a science to keep this whole environment, no window, humidity at the right temperature."
Guests are welcome to stay as long as they like but given the polar temperature most usually stay only an average of 45 minutes. Given what is expected to be a steady stream of visitors Minus5 will bring in a skilled ice carver every six to eight weeks to chip and shave new sculptures to keep the interior fresh.
As the summer heat wanes, Minus5's owners expect even in the winter activity will remain steady because customers will already be outfitted for the experience. Bowman says the company is aiming to open two more locations in 2014 withFlorida and New Orleans in mind.
Minus5 was conceived of in 1999 by Craig Ling of New Zealand who took the design of a Russian vodka bar with an ice interior and applied the concept to an entire bar. From there the ice bar idea spread to Australia and then Las Vegas.