Simply a swan sculpture it is not. The Glacier Ice Bar that descends upon The Sagamore Resort every January is an Instagram eye-candy extravaganza entirely made out of ice.


“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 for Opal. He’s referring to the annual Glacier Ice Bar that premiers each January for two weekends at The Sagamore Resort (January 22–23 and January 29–30, 2021) in Bolton Landing, New York. Set on the patio outside La Bella Vita’s lounge, this icy presentation has become an annual wintertime tradition since first premiering in 2014. And while it usually draws tourists and locals alike to sip on the coldest cocktails around in one of the most unique settings, the 2021 ice bar experience will be available to overnight hotel guests only. But that won’t impact any of the usual elaborate details. Here’s what you can expect to look forward to.

The 2021 Experience

The-Sagamore-Ice-Bar

Like most events or annual experiences this year, this ice bar is going to look a little different. Like we mentioned above, it will be available to overnight hotel guests only (wristbands will be provided and will be required for Ice Bar entry throughout the weekend). The Sagamore Resort is also limiting hotel capacity to approximately 50% to encourage social distancing, with a two-night stay minimum required on both weekends.

But with stipulations actually comes more available activities at your fingertips – beyond the ice bar experience, itself – including ice carving demonstrations, bonfires with s’mores and live music, Saturday-night fireworks, even a “Grown-Up Olympics” with prizes for first-, second-, and third-place finishers at The Rec Center on Saturdays. Guests can also rent outdoor igloos – those igloo-looking bubble tents that are all the rage right now – in two-hour increments (contact the restaurant to reserve).

18,000 Pounds of Ice Transformed

Like usual, the elaborate display all starts with between 60 to 100 300-pound blocks of ice and a multi-person sculpting team, which includes directors of food and beverage, executive chefs, and members of other Opal culinary teams. The hulking 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 before starting the outlining and carving process. “When the ice freezes together, you go ahead and outline what you’re going to do, and you start detailing them,” says Luper. “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.”

The End Results

Interactive pieces – like an ice piano with working keys and sculpted characters that guests can pose in front of for photo opps – are always the biggest hits. “Years ago, we themed the whole experience around 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. What to expect for 2021? The team is still finalizing plans, so you’ll have to wait and see, but you can bet it will be – yes, we have to say it – very cool.

 

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