Vinnie Antonelli: “You know, it’s dangerous for you to be here in the frozen food section.”
Shaldeen: “Why is that?”
Vinnie: “Because you could melt all this stuff.”
— My Blue Heaven
Boston’s hot summer has sent me indoors a lot. If there was an ice skating rink, I’d probably get out my skates. But hey, literally the coolest place in town all year round has got to be The Frost Ice Loft, in Faneuil Hall.
New England’s only permanent indoor bar made entirely of ice, The Frost Ice Loft is maintained at a brisk 21 degrees. In this heat, it’s a cooler alternative to the tried-and-true movie theater, mall or sprinkler dash when you’re in the city.
Truthfully, I had passed by this bar a few times, and seeing the kiosk outside the bar, just figured it was a tourist thing and kept walking. But when I was invited over for, literally, a cold one, along with a look at the new space, I was impressed. So was my tween boy. This is a space now being marketed toward locals looking for a unique special events space: corporate parties, receptions, even kid birthday parties.
On the top floor of the building at the Atlantic Avenue end, the place does have an admission charge, $12 adults, $10 kids (children aren’t allowed after 6 p.m.) This gets you the necessary-for-us insulated cape, which drapes past your knees and comes with a hoodie, hand-warmer pockets, and a set of gloves. Because working with cash and credit cards can be difficult inside, you also get a swipe card for ordering drinks, to be settled when you exit.
My friend, son, and I then entered a transitional area, the in-between room designed to adjust our bodies to the cold, and also prevents waves of room temperature from entering the ice bar. A recording talked to us about the temperatures and the three-drink maximum; while it’s 21 degrees in the bar, we’re told, the standard freezer temperature is 35 degrees.
After a few minutes, we were able to enter the bar, and it’s cold, but there’s no wind chill, so it’s pretty doable. The bar is small, only fitting up to 70 people. Any more than that, the body heat can melt the place. We were there around dinnertime, so the place had only a few other patrons; at night it’s much busier, so you’ll probably need to make a reservation at the desk. (No food is served here.)
Near the door are several life-sized ice sculptures; the week we were there, it was really good likenesses of Olaf from Frozen, Rex from Toy Story, Ice Man, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and a Minion. The Frost Ice Lounge employs Brookline Ice and an ice sculptor from Middleboro, while the bar itself was built in Canada. The house photographer took our photo.
On the walls are sand paintings and a frozen fish tank; swanky blocks of art deco cubes drip from the ceiling. There’s ice benches and, in the far corner, the bar’s new iceblock throne with a faux-fur throw. The floor, thankfully, doesn’t require ice skates. A small porthole looks out onto the market, but otherwise, the opaque ice walls cast a blue, slightly eerie glow. Is this what Princess Elsa felt like in her ice castle, if Disney would have allowed her a bar?
I’m more of a Princess Anna type; the cold was refreshing, but I headed to the bar for something to warm my insides. Atop the bar is the Lost and Found, an ice block sculpture whimsically frozen with items often left at the bar, such as a phone and wallet, as a chilly reminder.
The bar was revamped to allow for free-pour mixed drinks with top-tier bottles, rather than pre-made batch drinks that were designed to withstand the cold. The new fridge system helps keep things at the right temps, so now they can also have white wine and local beer.
My son ordered the Cherry Bae mocktail, very similar to a cherry coke with cherry syrup and marachino cherry. We ordered one of the featured cocktails ($12, with a souvenir whiskey cup): My friend ordered the Silversmith, a mango daiquiri that is their most-ordered mixed drink, with good reason; I had the Don’t Poke the Bear, a blackberry margarita with tequila, blackberry puree and lime juice; we had them served in a glass made of ice. If you want a warmer cup to hold, there’s the souvenir whiskey cup; also available are select cocktails for $16, served in an ice glass with top-shelf liquor, such as a White Manhattan or a Velvet Leprechaun whiskey ginger. The specialty shooter ($5) comes in a souvenir acrylic shooter glass; try the Namaste, a floral lavender margarita, or the whiskey sweet and sour. The drinks were strong and delicious. There’s also Harpoon IPA, Summer and Cider, served in cans nestled into a souvenir koozie ($8 for both); and Bota Pinot Grigio in a whiskey cup ($8).
The bartender, Tim Nelson, wore a winter coat and knit cap. He says he works a 6-hour shift. “I grew up snowboarding, so I’m used to it,” he said. “We get a lot of people who come in with a good mood, from all over the world. It’s a nice place to work.”
We took our drinks and tried out the throne, which was fairly comfortable for being made of ice. We chatted for a while, viewed the artwork, and thought about getting another drink. I noticed one man, in long pants, and a T-shirt, came in carrying his cape; the icy air did not faze him. For me, however, after about 30 minutes in there, my wardrobe choices of a skirt and sandals turned out to be a fashion mistake, and I feared my chattering teeth would shatter the second drink. It turns out that the other seasons of the year is actually easier on visitors, because they’re usually wearing shoes and pants. Even then, the average stay is about 45 minutes, although you can stay as long as you’d like. As we left, we checked out, received our official Frost photo and cups, and my son received a little goody bag of icy swag and candy.
Down the hall is their new downtown event space, The Gallery, a room-temperature space that holds 130 and overlooks Faneuil and Quincy Market. During the day, The Gallery is flooded with natural sunlight from its wall of windows facing Quincy Market; at night, edison lightbulbs cast a warm glow, and the full-glass windows are illuminated by the market, the city skyline, and the Zakim Bridge in the distance. The Gallery is 2,600 square feet with 15-foot high ceilings with glossy hardwood floors. The blank walls will soon be filled with artwork. The space is designed for receptions as well as business presentations, and is being pitched toward the corporate, nonprofit and arts community. The bar is also available for rentals. Three catering levels are available, from basic to molecular gastronomy.
One family recently held a tea party here for their daughter, which was also attended by the characters from Frozen. In fact, what also drove the Frost’s recent renovation and name change from the Frost Bar? They wanted to make it more family-friendly. “We thought “loft” seem more family-friendly,” said Frost marketing manager Jodi Johnson. “We added the kids’ corner, a rotating ice sculpture exhibit. Moms specifically were looking to do something different for their kids. They didn’t know about us because who goes back to Faneuil Hall, if you’re a local?”
Another bonus: For moms who need a break from all those teacups, they can sneak into the frozen bar for something a bit nippier.
Frost Ice Loft
200 State Street
Faneuil Hall Marketplace