At Icebar Orlando, patrons don't need to order drinks on the rocks.
"You have a vodka IN the rocks," said co-owner Patz Turner.
Make a reservation, pay a $35 cover charge, don an insulated cape and gloves and you can have a vodka drink in a 27-degree room. There, the couches, chairs, walls, glasses, bar and even the fireplace are made of ice. Lights alternately bathe the room in subtle colors, and the drinks are served by ladies dressed in stylish all-white snow suits and Russian-style fur hats.
The bar is touted as one of the first permanent ones of its kind in the United States. Ice bars are popular in Northern Europe, where entire buildings are sometimes carved from ice.
Turner said she reluctantly went to an ice bar in Sweden several years ago, but enjoyed the experience and began planning a similar venue.
"Orlando has all kinds of adventures," Turner said. "This is an adventure into the Arctic."
Mark Ferguson surprised his wife, Lorraine, with a 15th wedding anniversary party at the bar's opening night Oct. 1. The Fergusons, who travel from Lancashire, England, to vacation in Orlando every year, marveled at the sculptures, which included a fireplace lit with low-wattage electric flames and carved to look like Old Man Winter.
"Whoever built it, I'd like to see how his mind works," Ferguson said.
Ohio artist Aaron Costic did the sculpting, based on Turner's vision.
"It's the Crystal Palace as I imagined," said Turner, who co-owns the bar with Wylie Plummer. "It's a fantasy, created in my mind, of things frozen in time."
Turner said they're careful that those frozen in time doesn't include the patrons or the staff. Visits are limited to 45 minutes, and a variety of warmer drinks are available. The bar staff has a 30-minute-in, 15-minute-out rotation.
Chuck Taylor, construction project manager, said efforts were made to limit electric consumption by using bioclimatic filters, which refresh and recycle the cold air. The projected average monthly electric bill is $3,500.
The bar aims to draw conventioneers and vacationing parents looking for a more adult adventure after a steady diet of theme parks, Turner said.
Anne Taylor, who moved to Orlando from Minneapolis, joked that it makes frostbite an equal opportunity malady.
"People in Orlando can freeze every day just like people in Minnesota," she said. "It's great that Orlando now has a winter."
Ferguson said he joked that the experience wasn't that different for him.
"Because this is what we call summer in England," he said.
IF YOU GO
Drinks of ice
Icebar Orlando is at 8967 International Drive. Cover charge of $35 includes a vodka drink. Coats and gloves are available for visitors to wear. Reservations available from 4:30 to 10:15 p.m.; visits limited to 45 minutes; lounge open until 2 a.m.
For more information, go to www.icebarorlando.com or call (407) 426-7555.