The Ice Bar at Marin is back by popular demand (literally) for the 2015-16 season.

“It’s kind of like an urban legend, because Marin has been open for a little over two-and-a-half years and we’ve never done the ice bar,” Jay Pierce, director of sales and marketing for Marin, said. “But everybody comes through and they ask about the ice bar, and if we’re going to do it, and what it was like and where it went. I know they did it at Chambers, I think, four or five years ago. And, so, we’re just doing an homage, a throwback to it.”

Starting Dec. 18 — and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to close — you can mingle among colorful lights under the stars, get a photo-op on the ice throne and ice frame, or cozy up with a blanket in a heated cabana or next to the fire pit.

“To help stay warm we’ll have hot cider, Irish coffee, regular coffee and some martinis. And we have a shot ski up there that fits four people,” Pierce said. “It’s Minnesota. We fish outside, we ski outside, we snowmobile outside — so we might as well drink outside.”

While Marin provides the hospitality, Minnesota Ice Sculptures provides the art. The company was started in 2013 by two buddies in a garage. Robbie Harrell, the CEO and co-founder, works with a team in downtown Minneapolis to make everything from artisan ice cubes — like the ones used at Eat Street Social and Marvel Bar — to the nearly 3,000-pound sculpture at Marin.

Every sculpture starts with “totally blank” 300-pound blocks of ice, made from city water that is run through a six-day, reverse-osmosis process to filter out impurities.

A computer-driven laser carves the ice to within 1/1000th-of-an-inch precision.

“It’s similar to a 3-D printer, but instead of adding material, we actually remove material,” Harrell said.

Saws, picks and brushes are used for any touch-up work needed on-site, and a blowtorch clears and smooths the ice. Nothing is left to chance — except the weather.

“We talked about launching last week, or you know, at least getting it set up, [but] 40, 50 degrees wasn’t going to work out the best,” Harrell said. “Right now these blocks are probably sitting at about negative-6 degrees, about the temperature of the freezer we pulled them out of, and so they’ll stay pretty cold.”

When I asked Harrell if he would bet on the installation still looking good by February, his confident reply surprised me.

“I will, I do,” he said.

The Ice Bar at Marin features an “ice luge,” through which they will be pouring a seasonal martini called the Swedish Pear Martini. Here is how to make it at home.

Swedish Pear Martini

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

  • 2 oz Absolut Pears vodka
  • ½ oz St. Germain
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • ¼ oz fresh lemon juice
  • Combine all ingredients and shake over ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass, and serve with a pear slice as garnish.

    The Ice Bar at Marin is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to close.

    Mike Augustyniak

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