While unseasonably warm temperatures this winter are putting a damper on some aspects of Minnesota’s hospitality industry, from snow sports to ice fishing, Grand Superior Lodge in Two Harbors is taking control of the elements by hosting their own ice bar. Latching onto a trend that has popped up in several spots locally (led by the ice bar at Le Meridien Chambers, now in its sixth year), last year Grand Superior debuted its Blu Ice Bar and Lounge with great success.
"The response last year was overwhelming," says Barb Swenson, director of marketing for Odyssey Resorts. "The response this year has been equally amazing. … It is built in the spirit of embracing were we live and all of the seasons we have here to enjoy."
Eager to see for myself, I recently visited Blu, and was entranced by the spectacular ice sculpting (by Chris Swarbrick, carving champion from the St. Paul Winter Carnival, and Peter Slavin, internationally acclaimed ice sculpting "performer") and mystical blue lighting. (The potent Blutini I was greeted with at the door also didn’t hurt.)
The bar, located in a tent on the grounds, features ice chandeliers and carved lighthouse ice sculptures, including a 12-foot ice carved Split Rock lighthouse with a working beacon. Patrons sit on fur-lined ice benches, sip drinks served in ice shot glasses, eat "North Shore sushi" and soak in the icy atmosphere. The bar is expected to be up at least through mid-March, with entertainment planned through St. Patrick’s Day.
Other North Shore ice bars include Moguls Ice Bar on Lutsen Mountain, a ski-in, ski-out bar at Caribou Highlands Lodge (also owned by Odyssey, owner of Grand Superior), and Little Angie's Cantina & Grill in Duluth’s Canal Park.
Blu is available for private parties. Meanwhile, until you get to the North Shore to see for yourself, you can mix up your own taste of Blu:
½ oz blue raspberry vodka
½ oz citron vodka
1/3 oz blue raspberry syrup
Splash of pineapple
Combine ingredients in shaker and shake vigorously, strain and serve up with dry ice if available.
North Shore Sushi: Castle Danger Roll
(The most popular of the five different rolls served at Blu.)
1 sheet nori
1 cup cooked and seasoned sushi rice
3 oz smoked lake trout
3 slices fresh avocado
Shredded carrots dressed in rice wine vinegar
Whitefish caviar to garnish
For more photos from Sheri's trip to the North Shore, visit Minnesota Meetings + Events' Facebook page.