January 17, 2013

Ice bars: Hot new way to banish winter blahs

Ice bars are the hot new way to banish winter blahs.

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Bring on the arctic air, because Maine is quickly becoming an ice bar hot spot.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Earl Morse puts the finishing touches on the ornate base of Portland Harbor Hotel’s ice bar in 2010.

2010 File Photo/Gordon Chibroski

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WHEN: 5 to 9 p.m. Jan. 24-26 (Jan. 26 is sold out)

WHERE: Portland Harbor Hotel, 468 Fore St.

HOW MUCH: $20; $5 for valet parking

INFO: brownpapertickets.com


WHEN: 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Jan. 25; 11:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Jan. 26

WHERE: Samoset Resort, 220 Warrenton St., Rockport


INFO: 594-2511


WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 2

WHERE: Saint Joseph's College, 278 White Bridge Road, Standish


INFO: (877) 752-2586; therock.sjcme.edu/event/icebar2013


WHEN: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 15

WHERE: Hilton Garden Inn, 5 Park St., Freeport


INFO: flavorsoffreeport.eventbrite.com


WHEN: 5 to 10 p.m. Feb. 21-23

WHERE: Inn at Brunswick Station, 4 Noble St.

HOW MUCH: $10 in advance; $12 at door

INFO: brownpapertickets.com

In the coming weeks, ice bars will pop up in five communities, each offering a festive, frozen twist on the traditional cocktail bar experience.

The trend began nine years ago when the Portland Harbor Hotel held its inaugural benefit ice bar. Since then, the event has regularly sold out and attracted more than 2,000 people over the course of three nights.

"The appeal is that in the winter, there's not really a lot of interesting things to do," said Gerard Kiladjian, general manager of the Portland Harbor Hotel. "In the winter, there's pent-up demand for people to go out and find something to do."

Like most ice bars, the Portland Harbor Hotel Ice Bar, which takes place Jan. 24-26, features a bar carved from ice, ice luges for shots, ice sculptures and fire pits. Cocktails, such as the Coastal Caramel Latte martini and the White Pine martini, will be mixed with Smirnoff Vodka, and a separate bar will feature beers from Shipyard Brewing.

Inside, DJ music will accompany food from Zapoteca, Spread, Buck's Naked BBQ, GoBerry and Eve's at the Garden.

Tickets to the Saturday-night event have already sold out, and space is rapidly filling up for Thursday and Friday.

"The nice thing about this event is, we really stimulate the economy downtown as well," Kiladjian said. "The food (we offer) is just for grazing. A lot of people start at the ice bar, and then they go out to dinner."

As a result, restaurants in the Old Port and surrounding districts tend to be packed on ice bar nights, making reservations a smart idea. Tickets to the Portland Harbor Hotel Ice Bar cost $20, and part of the proceeds support Community Counseling Services, the Root Cellar and Share Our Strength of Southern Maine.

THIS WEEKEND and next, the Samoset Resort in Rockport hosts the inaugural FROST Ice Bar and Lounge. The free event marks the first winter that the resort has been open since being purchased by new ownership about four years ago and undergoing renovations.

"We wanted to bring some excitement to the community," said David Day, director of food and beverage for the Samoset. "January is usually such a gray month. We want to continue this year after year."

While most ice bars have a cover charge, Day said, "We are community-driven, and this is the wrong time of year to be charging people to come to an event where they're going to be spending money anyway."

Guests will head down to the resort's lower level, where the La Bella Vita restaurant and the Enoteca Lounge overlook the golf course and the ocean. The ice bar will be set up on the outside deck.

In addition to the ice bar and luge, the deck will feature chairs and barstools carved from ice and draped in faux polar bear skins, plus shot glasses chiseled from ice.

Drinks, which will be mixed with Cold River Vodka, Vermont Spirits and Ripe mixers, include such concoctions as Old Man Winter (Vermont Gold Vodka, lemon juice, agave nectar and sparkling soda) and the Polar Bear shot (white creme de cacao and peppermint schnapps).

On the deck, executive chef Tim Pierce will offer a special small plate menu that will feature oysters on the half shell, shrimp and lobster cocktail, Italian meat and cheeses, and hand-cut fries tossed with pecorino cheese, truffle oil and fresh chives.

BACK INLAND, the first weekend of February brings the Ice Bar and Snow Ball to Saint Joseph's College in Standish.

Last winter, the college held its first ice bar in conjunction with its centennial celebrations.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

An ice sculpture in the shape of a fish graced last year’s Portland Harbor Hotel Ice Bar.

Photo courtesy gBritt PR

click image to enlarge

A martini is prepared at the 2010 event. Ice bar events have become a popular winter twist on the cocktail bar experience.

2010 File Photo/John Ewing


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