FYI, wear long underwear.
As I set out on a chilly Thursday evening to Montreal's new Hiverside ice bar, my mind was filled with scenes from the James Bond movie Die Another Day. In this classic early aughts spy romp, our hero, Mr. Bond, is invited to the villain's ice palace (which is somehow also a diamond mine) and hijinks ensue. And though I lack the martini-fueled charm of Pierce Brosnan, I was about to feel like Bond himself at this quirky Montreal ice bar.
What the movie didn't show you was that under that tuxedo, James Bond was wearing several layers of thermal underwear. Me, on the other hand? One measly layer of pants. I was shaken. But despite my lack of longjohns, Hiverside definitely stirred me up.
Now, many of you might be thinking, "c'mon, just how different can this be from any other themed bar?" Believe me, this is like nothing you've ever seen before in Montreal.
As you walk into the massive inflatable igloo, the first thing you'll notice is how remarkable the sculpted ice really is. From the tables and benches to a literal piano, the ice has been carved to absolute perfection.
It should come as no surprise since the ice was sculpted by the renowned Julien Doré, the artist behind Quebec's Hôtel de glace.
Flanking both sides of the bar are two sets of tables with enough room for about six people per table. The benches are covered in recycled furs that after a prolonged sit-down, don't do much to keep your butt from going numb. Luckily, at the back of the bar is an open area with heating lamps that got packed really fast.
With the music pumping and people spilling in, my friends and I were lucky enough to nab one of the last remaining tables. First up on the drink menu was a sort of vodka spritz made with cotton candy. While I'm not big on sweet drinks, the cocktail managed to strike a good balance and wasn't overpowering.
Next up was the hot chocolate cocktail. Now, I'm no mixologist, but mixing alcohol with hot chocolate is kind of a strange idea. At first, the drink was tasty but quite heavy on the alcohol. Unfortunately, hot drinks don't do too well surrounded by ice and what started out as a tasty drink became an abhorrent swirl of alcohol and cold hot chocolate. But maybe that's your thing?
I was so glad the next drink, the hot toddy cocktail, redeemed the hot chocolate. On the first sip, I forgot all about my numb bum and was whisked away to a planet made of warm duvets. It was classic, delicious, strong but not destructive, and the perfect thing to drink while sitting on an ice bench.
If you're looking for a fun night out to get drinks with friends in a mesmerizing environment, this is the place for you. My only advice is to layer up!
Is Hiverside worth it? Most definitely.
Hiverside Ice Bar
Price: $60/person for a reservation; Hiverside also accepts walk-ins
Where: Riverside bar, 5020, rue St-Ambroise, Montreal, QC
When: Thursdays to Saturdays starting December 10
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.