Miami Beach is one hot metropolis, but it will get cooler when the city's first vodka ice bar opens across the street from the Delano in May.
Drinkhouse Fire & Ice (1672 Collins Ave, Miami Beach) is part ice bar, part fire lounge. It seeks to bring an experience to Miami unlike anything else around. "If you've ever been to an ice bar, be it in Amsterdam, New York, or Vegas, you know how touristy they can be," says cofounder Nicole Pritchett. "You walk through a room where you can buy hats and scarves typically, and it's very Disneyland. We're flipping that model on its head."
The 27-year-old entrepreneur is a Miami native who attended Pepperdine University in California and became a documentary filmmaker, working as associate producer on Tom Shadyac's I Am, which would serendipitously lead her to business partner Sally Drinkhouse.
Now in her 60s and retired, Drinkhouse has been lifelong friends with Pritchett's parents, and during brunch a little more than a year ago, the two realized they were soul sisters. "It was me, Nicole, and her parents, and I was telling them how I'd seen this documentary that changed my life, when they all looked at each other and Nicole said don't say anything — I want to hear why."
"It was after explaining how at this point of life, when you retire and you've bred kids and whatnot, that you simply want to do something that's going to give back, that she told me she had coproduced it. That's the day we became business partners."
Named after Sally, Drinkhouse Fire & Ice isn't just setting out to be another bar to imbibe (although it will be that too); it also strives to be an educational, artistic, and spiritual gathering place. "If you had to describe it in three words, it would be the gathering of spirits," she says. Spirits in this case takes on a multitude of meanings, from the spirit of alcohol to the universal spirit of energy that will reverberate throughout the space. The 100,000 pounds of ice that will be the barriers for the 4,000-square-foot facility are being embedded with more than 25 precious stones, which you can be educated on if you so wish.
"We picked selenite for our tables, for example, because it removes negative energies from air, so we want people to keep energy flowing when they sit," Pritchett says. "During Greek times, it was rumored that you could drink from an amethyst glass and you wouldn't get drunk. That, of course, wasn't true, but the idea is that it gives people balance while drinking, so we've incorporated that as well." Master ice sculptor David Berman is the architect of the project and has worked closely with the duo on Drinkhouse Fire & Ice's vision, which will be twofold.
An experiential fire cocktail lounge will be a place where you can try handcrafted and bizarre libations with, yes, real fire components. Chandelle Yarmey (Baoli, Khong River House, Villa Azur) has been tapped as lead mixologist. "You lift one vodka and she knows the complete history," Pritchett says. "She's really going into the science of the drinks too, using instruments you've never seen before and coming up with crazy infusions." Yarmey will be in charge of creating all the cocktails, which will have components such as smoked wood and names like "Soul Burner" and "God of the Rising Sun," as well impart her knowledge via cocktail classes. Drink prices aren't set in stone just yet. "We want them to be lower than what's around here. We're trying to move away from the clubby scene and really make this a place for the locals."
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The ice bar, however, will be a bit more tourist-driven. "Of course we have great tourism in Miami and want to make this a tourist attraction, but not in the traditional way." You'll walk into a room of 100,000 pounds of ice kept at 23 degrees Fahrenheit, but not without reinforcement. "We'll have plush fur coats that Sally has designed so women can enjoy dressing up like ice princesses." Here, you'll be able to sip cocktails from unique and cool (pun intended) glassware in a smoky and mystical setting that will also boast original photography by world-renowned landscape photographer Peter Lik, whose most expensive print sold for a whopping $6.5 million.
Reservations will be available every 30 to 45 minutes, and admission for the ice-bar experience alone costs $17 or $34 with two drinks (other packages will also be available). Dancers and performers, like the queen of PLUR, Lady Casa, will make the experience interactive while evoking the same spiritual feel that Pritchett and Drinkhouse are going for. "By no means are we trying to shove this down anyone's throat, but it's just what we believe in and want to be able to share that with the world.
"At the end of the day, this concept was born because Sally and I connected on the principle of the documentary, which tells the story of this guy who made all this money, had everything he could have wanted, and he wasn't any happier," Pritchett explains. "It's about who we are as people and what makes us really happy, and that's not just taking but giving, which has kind of become the soul of the entire project." It's also why every month Drinkhouse Fire & Ice will donate 2 percent of its profits to a charitable organization. "We'll start with Miami before hitting up national, but the ultimate goal is to give back to the community."