Eating & Drinking

Ice Bars In Warm Places

At almost any bar in the world you can get a drink with ice. At a few you can get a drink in ice. While sitting on seats made of ice. At a table made of ice. Surrounded by walls made of ice.

The concept of the ice bar originated, logically enough, in Sweden where both water and freezing temperatures are abundant. These icy drinking establishments soon became popular around Scandinavia, partly because they combined two elements Scandinavians tend to embrace (cold and alcohol) and partly because these bars’ LED lighting, artworks of frozen water and and intimate settings made them great places to chill out. (Pun. Sorry.)

Today, there are more than two dozen ice bars around the globe including ones in Amsterdam, London, Poland, Canada and Alaska. Not all of these frozen saloons are in places with cold climes. Hence this Spot Cool Stuff overview of ice bars in warm places.

For the purposes of this review, a “warm place” is anywhere it doesn’t snow in the winter and regularly gets hot in the summer. So, the ice bar in Beijing doesn’t count. The one in Shanghai would have had it not recently closed.

All of the selections on this list, like most of the ice bars anywhere, charge an entrance fee to get in. Usually this fee includes one free drink and use of cold-weather clothing that is designed as much to protect patrons from the bar’s sub-freezing temperatures as it is to protect the bar itself from the patrons’ body heat. To help keep their establishments below freezing, ice bars also have strict limits on the number of people allowed in.

And with that, let’s kick back with a cold one and tour the world’s ice bars in warm places . . .

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The Hidden Kitchen of Paris

The dining location for your ten-course tasting meal is kept 'secret' until your reservation is confirmed

If there is one dinner to plan in advance on your trip to Paris, make it Hidden Kitchen. Located in the swanky Parisian flat of two talented American chefs, this secret restaurant is where food-loving strangers come to meet and eat.

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The London Restaurant with Interactive Tables

What’s on the menu at London’s Inamo restaurant? Literally, your plate, your drinks and your silverware. At Inamo, patrons order their food electronically at the high-tech, interactive table at which they sit!

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Bangkok’s Restaurant of Safe Sex

I’d like the grilled fish with mango and a condom, please.

In Bangkok there’s a lunch and dinner spot where you can utter that sentence to your waiter without it being the punch line of some (probably not very good) joke. Tucked away on one of the Thai capital’s many side streets is the Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant.

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Two Nights Above Bangkok

Bangkok's coolest scenes are high above the city.

Bangkok’s glamour set has no fear of heights. Two of the Thailand capital’s most chic dining and drinking spots are well above the city: the Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar and the Sirocco.

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Eat Underwater in the Maldives

The food at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is quite tasty—we suggest the pan fried Maldivian white fish with fennel sauce and curry. But diners here don’t pay much attention to what’s on their plate. They are too captivated by this underwater restaurant’s 270 degree view of crystal blue water and vibrant marine life.

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Eating In The Dark

Here’s a restaurant theme you didn’t see coming: darkness.

The concept of purposefully eating in complete pitch-black dark originated with Jorge Spielmann, a blind clergyman from Zurich. When guests ate dinner at the Spielmann house some would wear blindfolds during their meal to show solidarity with their host and to better understand his world. What Spielmann’s sighted guests found was that the blindfolds heightened their sense of taste and smell and made their dining experience more enjoyable. That gave Spielmann the idea to open a dark restaurant, which he did in 1999.

Today you can stumble into dozens restaurants around the world where that question made famous in an American commercial in the 80s — Where’s the beef? — takes on a whole new meaning. Most dark restaurants employ blind waiters, offer a single set menu, and ban anything that could give off light (like cigarettes, cell phones and cameras) from the dinning area. All of them also have normally lit bathrooms though you’ll need to ask your waiter for help in finding it.

Here’s our illuminating look at some of the world’s dark restaurants:

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Topless Coffee Shop Percolates Business

These are tough economic times in central Maine. So a local entrepreneur decided to add an extra attraction to a new coffee shop there to drive up sales: a topless waitstaff.

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