I know there are hardcore Vegas partiers out there who would snicker at the concept of an ice bar. I can hear them now: “It’s a gimmick, why freeze when imbibing instead of kicking back at the poolside cabana?” or “I’m not going to pay a $25 cover for the privilege of sitting on a block of ice to toss back a vodka shot!” Before entering the Minus 5 Ice Bar at the Monte Carlo Hotel, I was even harboring some doubts….last winter was extra rough where I’m from in New England. Even now I’m nursing residual wind burn on my cheeks, a causality of digging out from yet another snow storm. I have wildly embraced summer this time…suffocating humidity, mind numbing heat waves and all.
Looking at Minus 5 as just another place to pound shots and take advantage of drink specials is to miss the point. The interior is sheer artistry and keeping it that way in the blazing Nevada desert is a monumental defiance of nature. Everything inside is made of ice…the walls, bar, tables & chairs, intricate sculptures of Mount Rushmore and a Zumanity character…even the glasses that hold their signature vodka-based cocktails are crafted from frozen artesian water imported from New Zealand. An on site ice sculptor continually changes up the ambiance re-carving the bar and sculptures every 6-8 weeks. Since the interior is kept at a steady minus 5 C (23 F), you are outfitted in Eskimo-like insulated jackets and gloves….that I found too thin while clutching my icy margarita. But somehow this discomfort is trivial while admiring the cavernous ice walls and bar illuminated with ever changing multi-colored lights…and I don’t think it was the tequila.
Video & photo courtesy of Steve Mirsky. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored trip