Opal’s Coolest Attraction: Inside The Annual Glacier Ice Bars
Simply a swan sculpture it is not. The Glacier Ice Bars that descend upon The Sagamore Resort and Samoset Resort each January are Instagram eye-candy extravaganzas entirely made out of ice.
If you’re visiting The Sagamore Resort or Samoset Resort in January, there’s a quintessential wintertime tradition you just can’t miss: the resorts’ annual glacier ice bar. Sculpted out of 50,000 pounds of ice (yes, you read that right), the ice bars have been a massive draw since 2014. “Everything is made out of ice: the bar, the barstools, the sofas, the chairs, the tables, glasses that you can actually drink out of, even the logos for sponsors, who we couldn’t do it without – all made out of ice,” says Scott Luper, regional director of food and beverage at Ocean Properties.
Set on the patios outside the restaurant lounges, these icy presentations premier every January for two weekends, drawing tourists and locals alike to sip on the coldest cocktails around in one of the most unique settings. So what does it take to pull such a display off?
HOW OPAL BUILDS ITS GLACIER ICE BARS
It all starts with 150 300-pound blocks of ice and a 10-person sculpting team led by Executive Chef Chris Merriam. The sculpting team includes directors of food and beverage, executive chefs, and members of other resort culinary teams. The hulking 300-pound blocks are unloaded with hand trucks and lugged around before the carving commences. Chainsaws, ice chisels, and hot aluminum pieces chip away and shape the blocks.
Then, for lack of a better word, they’re glued together. “When the ice freezes together, you go ahead and outline what you’re going to do, and you start detailing them,” says Chef Merriam. “It’s not easy work. We’ve had to scramble a couple times when we had warm Januarys and things melted and we had to rebuild.”
ANNUAL THEMES AND INTERACTIVE ELEMENTS
Interactive pieces – like the school bus and sculpted characters guests can throw an arm around for photo opportunities – are always the biggest hits, as well as ice luges that are on each end of the bar. At Samoset Resort, you can get a shot poured into a special ice luge glass!
What’s more, there’s always an overarching theme tied to the creations. “Years ago, the theme was polar bears. The back bar was done to look like a big glacier, and then we sculpted these massive polar bears that stood 16 feet tall,” says Luper. In 2020, the Sagamore Resort went Gatsby with a 1920s-inspired shindig while the Samoset Resort did their best impression of Old McDonald with a farm-themed spectacle.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE 2024 GLACIER ICE BAR
The intention of the annual ice bars is to entertain and amaze, so what better defines that than the wild whimsy world of the Big Top? That’s right, circus is the inspiration for this year’s theme. While the exact interactive ice creations, various sculptures, and other elements are still in the brainstorming phases at this time, this year will sure make for one sleek spectacle you won’t want to miss. And, as usual, firepits and private igloos will be woven throughout the event, same with light bites, and, of course, signature icy-cool cocktails.
The Dates and Tickets
The Glacier Ice Bars are open for two weekends at both resorts:
- The Sagamore Resort: January 19–20 & 26–27: Set on La Bella Vita’s terrace, the icy display overlooks Lake George and the 1883 historic resort’s sprawling grounds. In addition to ice luges anchoring each end of the signature ice bar, ice sculptures, and seating draped in faux fur blankets, there’s also a series of heated private igloos for warming up in between time spent at the bar. The handcrafted cocktails run the range from warm, boozy coffee beverages to festive cranberry, vodka, and champagne creations. Guests can book a stay during the above dates to enjoy free entry to the ice bar, non-hotel guests must purchase tickets.
- Samoset Resort: January 12–14 & 19–20: Samoset Resort’s ice bar scene is set seaside, overlooking Penobscot Bay and the property’s 230 acres. Expect a creative menu of both hot and cold hand-crafted cocktails, beer, and even mocktails. And, of course, there’s the signature ice luges, funneling elaborately-crafted shots into special glassware. Warm up with light bites – like chili and New England clam chowder – or gather around one of the fire pits to toast marshmallows. Guests can book a stay to enjoy free entry to the ice bar, non-hotel guests must purchase tickets.