Built in 1994 the worlds first and largest Icehotel was created. The original and once one-of-a-kind hotel is located in Jukkasjärvi, a small village in Northern Sweden 200 km north of the Artic Circle. Every year between 50,000 and 60,000 tourists from all over the world travel to the remote location to experience “Europe’s last Wilderness”. Because the hotel melts in the summer, the Icehotel is rebuilt annually by world-renowned ice sculptures that come up with new designs and architecture every year, making each Icehotel unique. Each one is built from 1,000 tons of crystal clear ice extracted from the Torne River and 30,000 tons of “snice”, a mixture of snow and ice.
A few years ago I was extremely privileged to experience the Icehotel on the vacation of a lifetime. My grandparents, cousins, family and I went to Sweden over Christmas break in 2006. After a nine-hour flight to Stockholm, another two-hour plane ride, and a short bus drive, we had finally made it to the tiny remote village of Jukkasjärvi. During our four-night stay, we spent three of them in small heated cabins that surrounded the Icehotel and only one actually inside of it. It may be surprising but I never got cold when I slept there, that is because I slept in sweats inside of a sub-zero sleeping bag on top of a bed covered in reindeer fur, which actually made for a toasty night’s sleep. During our stay we did some fun activities such as a snowmobile ride to see the Aurora Borealis (also know as the northern lights), went dog sledding into the arctic countryside, and tried making our own ice sculptures, which ended up being complete disasters. When we weren’t partaking in the organized activities we were indulging in Swedish cuisine—the meatballs really are delicious—and the adults were drinking heavily at the Absolut Icebar, one of the biggest attractions at the hotel. At the time I didn’t feel like I was missing out but now looking back on it through a “legal lens”, I am truly bummed I was not of drinking age.
The Absolut Vodka brand and production facilities are owned by the country of Sweden so it makes perfect sense that the Icehotel’s Icebar is sponsored by Absolut vodka. The popular alcohol brand is produced locally and recognized globally. Along with the worlds first Icehotel, the worlds first Icebar was also built in 1994. The Absolut Icebar offers an experience like none other. The room is kept at a chilling -5ºC (23ºF) and provides a unique drinking environment that can’t be found at the everyday pub. Just like the Icehotel, the Icebar takes on a unique design and theme every year. In celebration of the 25th anniversary the current year’s bar is called “BOOOM!” which features an ice explosion from an imaginary champagne bottle, “in wave-like cascades of bubbly”. Because the Icebar was such a big hit, the Absolut Icebar family has grown throughout the years. New locations have risen throughout Europe where you can now find them in Stockholm Sweden, London England, Milan Italy, and Copenhagen Denmark. To keep brand consistency, the same crystal clear ice from the Torne River that is used to build the Absolut Icebar in Jukkasjärvi is also used to build every other Absolut Icebar in the newer locations. Absolutely everything in the Icebar’s are made from ice: the artwork, the walls, the barstools, and even the shot glasses, literally giving a whole new meaning to “on the rocks”. The new and innovative bar concept has even spread beyond Europe and now ice bars are found around the world. Countries that have ice bars include Japan, China, South Africa, Australia, Canada, and if you don’t want to travel outside of the country, you can check out Minus5 Ice Bar in Las Vegas, IceBar Orlando, or the Frost Ice Bar in Boston.
Visiting an ice bar is something every drinker should do at least once in their lifetime. They offer an exciting atmosphere that literally brings you closer to the people around you, for warmth that is. Unfortunately when I was at the original Absolut Icebar I was only able to drink Swedish Lingonberry juice, which is why I plan on visiting another ice bar, probably much closer than the one I was previously at, as soon as possible so I can gain the full experience. I would highly recommend checking out an ice bar so you can experience what I believe to be the coolest and most unique drinking environment for yourself.