A visit to Minus 5 Bar starts out normally enough. A restaurant with good food and views across Sydney Harbour. How things change when you want to enter the bar area.
Guests are taken to an air locked 'warming room' and provided with parkas, ugg boots and double gloves (the inner gloves are sterilised) to wear over your going-out clothing. You are then issued with a 20-minute timer to wear around your neck before experiencing something absolutely extraordinary.
Minus 5 is chiselled entirely from ice. It is kept at -5C and patrons can stay for just 30 minutes to avoid frostbite or hypothermia. Staff are permitted to do one hour shifts at a time.
Drinks are pre-paid for at reception bulky gloves make it impossible to handle money and cash registers and credit card machines malfunction in the low temperature.
The impact as you enter the bar is enormous. Everything but the floor is translucent and all is enveloped in a surreal and eerie blue glow. Walls, stools, tables, sofas, glasses, the bar and elaborate sculptures are made entirely of ice. Every piece of ice in the bar, apart from the ice glasses, which are from New Zealand, is imported from Canada.
Bartenders are trained to show the art of drinking vodka and have an almost unlimited array of cocktails on offer. Uneaten 'glasses' are simply smashed and thrown away.