Finding Minnesota: North Shore Ice Bar

TWO HARBORS, Minn. (WCCO) — Many years, the rugged shoreline of Lake Superior would be pretty icy by now. But if it’s not on the rocks, you’ll find plenty of ice at a bar, just a short walk away.

It’s known as “Blu” and you’ll find it inside a giant tent outside Grand Superior Lodge, about 10 miles north of Two Harbors. Besides the ice bar, it has six sculptures in the shape of lighthouses, highlighted by a 16-foot replica of Split Rock Lighthouse.

“It’s cold,” said Eric Johnson of Prior Lake, wearing a fur-lined hat as he sipped a drink. “Really, really cool.”

Blu has ice chandeliers, ice benches and icy shot glasses.

“This is made of ice,” said corporate chef Tom Linderholm, holding one of the glasses. “And we put these together inside the restaurant and we freeze them overnight in molds. And we usually have on hand up to 600 of these.”

“This is the longest-running, largest outdoor ice bar on the north shore of Minnesota,” said Barb Swenson, the marketing director for Odyssey Resorts.

It took seven award-winning carvers a few days to transform 60,000 pounds of ice.

After sundown, the blue lights inside the sculptures only add to the effect.

“An ice bar like this, with these carvings, you’re going to remember this forever,” said Andrew Fine, Grand Superior’s general manager.

Even though the tent protects the bar from the sun, the temperatures have created problems during this unusually warm start to winter.

On the day after Christmas, it got up to 46 degrees in the area, which caused a little damage, including a few cracks. But Linderholm said they’ll be able to iron them out and make the ice smooth again. If temperatures climb back into the 40s again, they have air conditioning units nearby.

Dexter Baxter is originally from Jamaica, but he’s now the food and beverage manager at Grand Superior.

“People are so fascinated back home in Jamaica to this whole deal that we have here,” he said. “The North Shore is so beautiful and look at this piece of work. It’s actually just as beautiful.”

Winter may be a little behind schedule, but they’re still making it work.

“Since Lake Superior doesn’t freeze,” said Fine, “we’re going to freeze it up in here.”

The ice bar is open only on Fridays and Saturdays.

You can also find ice bars in downtown Minneapolis at the Chambers Hotel, in Duluth’s Canal Park, near Lutsen Mountain and from Feb. 10-12 at Rochester’s Social Ice celebration.

More from Mike Binkley
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