Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ice Club Rome

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An ice bar has been on my to-do list ever since I watched Travel Channel's Top 10 Las Vegas several years ago.  And that, of course, was before I really knew anything about drinking - that alcohol couldn't freeze, but it tasted awesome cold.  I just wanted to go for the igloo aspect and the opportunity to dress like an eskimo.

So when I read about Ice Club Rome in my Let's Go Italy tour guide (Let's Go is a travel book written by Harvard students after their studies abroad, so it's a great guide for college students that is informative about nightlife and understanding of our somewhat limited budgets when it comes to food and accommodations), I really wanted to go.  Luckily, my friends were equally excited about the opportunity to drink alcohol at -5 degrees Celsius.



Our hotel had a brochure about the ice bar, too, and it was very close.  There was a coupon in the brochure for buy 1/get 1 drinks - awesome!  I downloaded a Google map on my iPhone before I left.  I've learned that you can download the map using wifi/data, and then use the directions without using data.

We decided to make it an early night because we had to leave the hotel at 7 AM the next morning to head on to Naples.  So we got to the bar around 7:45 PM.  It wasn't exactly hopping.

The front desk was manned by an Irishman, which was convenient because the Irish speak English.  He told us that before 11 PM, our 15 Euro cover charge included two drinks, and after 11, it included one.  Unlike other ice bars, they didn't have a time limit, but once you exited, you couldn't re-enter.  "It usually picks up around 10 or 11.  Right now [looks at monitor behind him with two Arab-looking men who are line dancing].... well, you'll have company."  Wanting to stick with our early evening plan, we decided to go ahead in, despite the lack of other people.  We were dressed in ridiculous-looking parkas to keep us warm in the cold temperatures.  There was also the option of renting hats and gloves for 2 Euros, but since we were already bundled up, we didn't bother with that - it would be a good option in the summer, though.

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Yours truly, dressed like a student from Hogwarts.
Our drinks came in frozen ice glasses.  I was pleased to find original mixed drinks with punny frozen names, rather than your standard Sex on the Beach or Mai Tai (not like I have a problem with either, but in an ice bar, I was wanting something more unique).  While the drinks were all very good, the conical shape of the glass decreased the amount of beverage you actually got, so it's a good thing we opted for the early entry with two beverages included.  I wish that I had taken a picture of the menu (the temperature and cloak, as well as the atmospheric blue lighting, made it rather difficult to photograph anything), but I do remember that I had the Arctic Sunset which was very good.  I was hesitant, as a key ingredient was melon vodka, and I recall hearing that my sister had some interesting experiences with melon vodka.  However, I think the chill of the alcohol alone makes everything infinitely better.

The ice bar felt small and intimate, but it was actually a rather large, but narrow space.  They took advantage of the temperature, utilizing ice sculptures as decorations.  The bar itself and all seating was constructed, seemingly, from ice.  However, the seats did have some warm sheepskin covers so that you didn't freeze your butt off.  Towards the back, they had actually constructed little rooms from ice.

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Ice Coliseum

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Ice Bar

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Igloo Seating

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After we finished our two drinks included in the cover charge, we were going to use the BOGO coupons to get an extra drink each.  However, when I showed them to the bartender, he told me that those were old, and they hadn't used them in over a year.  "I think I'm going to take a shot to warm myself up, though," and he poured us each a shot.  Frozen shots are the smoothest.  I had gotten Max a Margaritaville Liquor Chiller for Christmas, but hadn't had the opportunity to try it out, yet, but now I'm really glad I made the purchase!

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I understand why they didn't limit the time people spent in the bar, as the temperature really limits it for you.  I think I could've stayed in there an extra twenty minutes, but Alex's feet were already frozen.  Luckily, we were already bundled up because of the winter weather.  I couldn't imagine visiting there in the summer with sandals - brrrr!  When we left the ice bar and stepped outside, the cold winter weather actually felt... warm!

I really enjoyed the ice bar.  While for many people, I'm sure this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, but when given the opportunity, I would do it again if I was with other people who wanted to go.  It's kind of like a Margaritaville restaurant or a Rainforest Cafe.... yeah, it's a touristy attraction, but the atmosphere is fun and entertaining, and it's kind of fun to hit one in each city.  Maybe I'll make it my mission!