With 40-degree temperatures during the day, the last place one would expect to find an igloo-style drinking hole would be Eilat. That's part of the appeal of the Must Ice Bar, open now through October 15 in Israel's southernmost city.
A pub built entirely out of frozen water, the ice bar is a small, intimate watering hole that can hold up to 20 people at a time. It's rather different from other drinking spots, in some cases for reasons that have nothing to do with ice.
For obvious reasons, there's no smoking permitted at the Must Ice Bar. Anyone five years and older is allowed entry, and the maximum amount of time one can stay inside is 15 minutes, though most patrons head out after five.
At five degrees below zero, this is literally the coolest end-of-summer attraction in the country.
It works like this: After lining up in the hot sun, small groups are escorted inside to an air-conditioned room. Here, visitors are given the chance to acclimate themselves to a lower temperate. In a second waiting area, customers are outfitted with silver thermal capes and hoods. Patrons are invited to take a final deep breath of lukewarm air, and then it's time to be escorted into the ice bar.
Inside, everything from the stools to the tables to the bar itself is constructed from ice. Even the drinking glasses are made of ice, and are smashed and melted down after use. Ice sculptures join patrons sitting at different spots around the bar.
It costs NIS 15 to enter, with a first drink - your choice of a candy-colored beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) - included in the price.
Must Ice Bar is first and foremost a publicity stunt for the Elite Candy Company - patrons are also introduced to new gum products as part of their visit - but it's an enjoyable one.
Elite invested some NIS 3 million in the project, paying for more than 40 tons of ice to be shipped in from Holland to build the bar. It took two weeks for Inaxi, a crew of Dutch artists, to sculpt the room. This is the first time that Inaxi, famed for its sand, snow and ice sculptures throughout Europe, has shared its ice expertise in the Middle East.
Located on the promenade of Herods Hotel in Eilat, the Must Ice Bar operates from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. every day. There's no doubt that Eilat's first ice bar is also its latest hotspot.