MINNEAPOLIS — What do you get when you combine six 300-pound blocks of frozen water, frigid northern temperatures and a throng of thirsty Philadelphia Eagles sports fans bound for the Twin Cities?
Ice bars — a phenomenon that has been around for years but is now gaining major steam — er, frost — thanks to the Super Bowl's arrival, the growth of artisan ice companies, and the usual bounty of cold air. The frosty novelties are cropping up outdoors all around us — from rooftops to alleyways — and keeping things cool with chilly concoctions, frozen furniture, and arctic bar games (made-from-ice air hockey and shuffle-puck tables).
Take the ice bars from Minnesota Ice. Each is built with blocks of 10-by-20-by-40-inch ice slabs, and needs about three days to freeze, said Erik Eastman, director of sales for the company, which is constructing them, among other places, at the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis and Oxcart Ale House in St. Paul. Ice Occasions, the other major ice company in town, is also building outdoor ice bars.
Eastman says that, once the blocks are solid, a standard 6 1/2-foot ice bar can be put together in as little as 30 minutes, using a blowtorch to freeze the blocks together. From there, Minnesota Ice can engrave designs, add color, and even embed wireless LED lighting. Hand-carved embellishments, statues, games, and other icy constructions complete the wintry wonderland vibe.
"They're beautiful," Eastman said. "When you see them put together, it's like 'Wow.' They're pretty. They're super-clear, and they're just different."
Oh — and have we mentioned that alcohol tricks your brain into thinking you're warm? There's plenty of that, too.
You know you want to go ice fishing, right? The Crave rooftop patio will be offering that (well, simulated — you are on a rooftop! — but with ice fishing houses, guides and gear, and shore lunch available), as well as the full array of cold sculptures and furniture, including an ice throne for selfies. The rooftop will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4. Ticket prices TBD.
825 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-332-1133; craveicelounge.com
One of the Twin Cities' most picturesque — and most exclusive — rooftops suddenly has another angle to intrigue: an oversized, hand-chiseled ice bar lounge, complete with ice high-tops, ice air hockey, and cocktails from the Tattersall Distilling masters. Open to the public on Tuesdays (4 p.m. to midnight) through February, depending on weather. Reservations required.
300 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 651-468-0600; hewinghotel.com
On the Lexington's new rooftop, grab a cocktail from the ice bar or pour one yourself — down the icy drink luge, then snap an Instagram on the giant ice throne that will be staged under the Lexington sign. Open from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through Feb. 10.
1096 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-289-4990; thelexmn.com
Picture this: an intimate, New York-syle alleyway with string lights twinkling overhead and two ice bars wedged between a pair of brick buildings. A curated cocktail menu will be handled by the Hewing Hotel, and servers attending the standing room and handful of tables and heaters will be dressed in furs. Open from Feb. 1 through the Super Bowl; contact the store for hours.
212 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-746-5329; martinpatrick3.com
The Le Meridien hotel has turned its courtyard into an ice bar for a long while. Now the onsite restaurant, Mercy, will throw its version of an ice party, pairing fire pits and pine trees with the frozen features: a bar, a shuffle puck table, sculptures, and a custom igloo dome. Open from 6 p.m. to midnight Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through the Super Bowl.
901 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-252-7000; mercympls.com
The side-by-side restaurants in downtown St. Paul take up nearly a full city block. The duo is blocking off the street and turning the sidewalk area into a polar paradise. Two ice bars are churning out iced drinks in ice glasses for the party, and there are hockey-themed activities to boot. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The stop date is still TBD. Call for hours.
222 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-330-8267; newbohemiausa.com/saint-paul
Get a winter bird's-eye view atop a rooftop that overlooks minor-league baseball CHS Field and parts of the Lowertown section of St. Paul. On tap? An extra-long ice bar, ice high-top tables and an ice beer-pong table in case you need a reason to drink faster. Open from 3 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays through February, depending on weather.
255 E. Sixth St., St. Paul; 651-528-6171; oxcartalehouse.com
A bustling sojourn around the Mall of America could only be improved by a pit stop afterward at this frozen libation station. Partnering with Fulton Beer, Urbana will be peddling brew, hot and cold cocktails from its ice bar, and staging fire pits for patrons to warm their fingers and toes. A portion of profits go to the Minnesota food bank, Second Harvest Heartland. Open 4:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays until mid-February, weather permitting.
3200 E. 81st St., Bloomington; 952-658-5039; urbanacraeftkitchen.com
It's a bash every weekend at this whiskey-specializing bar. Volstead's ice bar — complete with an ice photo wall and fire tables — hosts a High Rollers event (think bottles of Pappy Van Winkle cracked) during the Super Bowl. Open 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, through at least mid-February.