Cocktails & Spirits

Drinkhouse Fire & Ice Is the Hottest and Coldest Bar in SoBe

When is a bar both the hottest and the coolest around? When it's Drinkhouse Fire & Ice, which soft-opened this past weekend.

The lounge is the brainchild of partners Sally Drinkhouse and Nicole Prichett and a culmination of two years of planning. Though there are ice bars in most major cities, tourist destinations like Grand Cayman, and even on Norwegian's cruise ship the Getaway, this is the first of its kind in South Beach, which seems surprising. The duo, however, wanted to make the experience less of a tourist attraction and more of a real experience. So they hired Chandelle Yarmey as lead mixologist to create a cocktail program that went beyond the usual fruity vodka shooters. Yarmey, who previously worked at STK, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, and Purdy Lounge, pulls out all the stops for the drink menu, using ingredients like chocolate caviar pearls, crystallized cranberry, and a flower called a Szechuan button. 

The bar, located next to a row of tourist beach shops and a Sbarro at 1672 Collins Ave., is an unlikely spot for the experience that awaits inside. Stepping into a black foyer, you're greeted by the glowing face of what appears to be an ice fairy, etched in glass. 

Step through an unmarked black door, and you're inside the fire lounge. Above the bar, a plasma screen plays a video of flickering flames — reminiscent of the famous yule log VHS. The room also features giant crystals and a bar made of stone.

Cocktails include the Samadji Night Spa, made with Hendrick's gin, St-Germain, cucumber juice, cilantro, and lime ($16, served with an additional shot of St-Germain); the Soul Burner, made with Bulleit bourbon, pomegranate, burnt citrus, and crystallized cranberries ($15); and the Glacier Water, made with lemon-infused Deep Eddy vodka, curaçao, Pop Rocks and served with its own mini-glacier ($15). The Shocktail will create the biggest buzz, literally and figuratively. The drink, made with Nolet's gin and lemonade, is served with a Szechuan button ($18). This little flower is a native of South America, Africa, and Asia, and its numbing qualities are used as a natural remedy to relieve toothaches and stomach ailments. The idea is to try the cocktail alone and then eat the tiny bud, which taste like a bitter dried flower. Give it a few seconds, however, and your tongue feels tingly. The best way to describe it is if someone opened up the pores to your taste buds. The effect lasts only a few minutes and is supposed to enhance the flavors you taste. 

After a drink in the fire lounge, it's time to experience the ice bar. Admission is $17, which includes the use of faux-fur coats, hats, and gloves (complete with texting capability). If you're not dressed for 23-degree temperatures, the bar even loans out sweats, leggings, socks, and slippers, so you won't freeze in your skimpy SoBe club wear. You can opt for the $34 mixology package, which includes two cocktails at the ice bar, or the $48 premium package, which includes two cocktails and a souvenir photo. If you have a child with a Frozen fetish, the bar is open to kids until 7 p.m. (they must be accompanied by an adult).

Once suited up, you'll have a maximum 40 minutes in this crystal palace — more than enough time to experience the novelty of being cold in Miami in September. Changing colors turn the bar into a Nordic fantasy, complete with ice sculptures and fossils and crystals frozen into the walls.

Ice bar bartender Sean Cadognan serves a limited menu of vodka cocktails and shots in glasses made of ice. The glasses, by the way, are used only once. As he pours drinks, he warns patrons to be careful — the frosty glasses are slippery, and Miamians aren't too nimble with gloves, being out of practice and all that. Partner Nicole Prichett points out that 23 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature in which to enjoy vodka. Asked if the vodka or the person should be at that temperature, she teases back, "The vodka."  

So what happens to the ice bar — and the 100,000 pounds of ice it contains — if Miami Beach is struck by a hurricane and loses power for days? "We have four generators. Surprisingly, the cold sustains itself, so we really need less power than you would think to keep the ice bar frozen. If we were to seal the doors, the room would stay frozen for about four days on its own."

Be warned, however, that the change in temperature wreaks havoc on phones and cameras. To keep itself from freezing, your phone may eat up its battery life, and your camera lens would probably fog up for a good 30 minutes after you return to the relative warmth of the fire lounge. It's best to keep both in your pockets, under your warm coat, after you've taken your fill of selfies.

After coming in from the cold, you're invited to step back into the fire lounge for a Winter's Kiss, a hot chocolate spiked with caramel vodka. If that doesn't do the trick to thaw you out, bartender Jeff "Flip" Fralich's fire-eating antics surely will.

Drinkhouse Fire & Ice is open weekdays from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and weekends from 4 p.m. to 5 a.m.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss