Going to a bar in Mumbai no longer has to be about getting bitten by mosquitoes or perspiring. Now you can sit in a room made of ice, drink from an ice glass at an ice bar, decorated with ice carvings on an ice chair.
India’s first permanent bar made of ice, 21 Fahrenheit, has opened up in Oshiwara, just yards from the Mega Mall. The bar is kept at minus 6 degrees Celsius all year round.
Guests are given a navy blue furry Parka coat, insulated moon boots and gloves to wear before entering. A bartender in a similar coat serves guests, while house and hip-hop music plays.
21 Fahrenheit was created by three Indian partners, Vaibhav Tandel, Aalok Purohit, and Harshan Dharmadas.
All three previously managed the Chill Out Ice Bar in Dubai, which was opened in 2007, by the Sharaf Group. They have now quit and started their own hospitality business, Hyacinth Lifestyle, in Mumbai.
Vaibhav Tandel, CEO, Hyacinth Lifestyle, is a Mumbaikar, who had moved to Dubai five years ago.
He used the expertise he gained there to build the bar here, leading the team of seven Indian staff who spent 20 days building the lounge bar, after renting, what had been a vacant space.
It was due to open several weeks ago but kept getting delayed because the coats and boots, tailor-made in India, had not arrived.
The 820 square foot bar holds 45 people. “We only expect people to stay inside for 30 minutes. The bartenders also rotate. Ice bars have to be small so people feel cosy inside them. Huge ice bars have failed so far,” Tandel admits. “Often ice bars open for three or four months and then they close down because it’s just a gimmick. It’s very important to make sure that doesn’t happen. But we will change the interiors every three to six months. The whole beauty of ice is that you can do that. And our service will be second to none. We want people to remember it.”
Ice bars already exist in other countries, but apart from serving drinks, this bar is unique because it also serves hot food — and some of the food is served flambéed.
The bar is lit up with red and blue lights giving it a jazzy vibe. And far from being just an ice bar, there’s also a general bar outside, and above it, there’s a swish modern pan Asian restaurant, which seats 46 people.
The restaurant has a live kitchen serving Japanese, Sichuan Chinese and Lucknowi cuisine, with smart wooden tables and chairs.
“The idea is to give people somewhere to spend the whole evening so they don’t just spend 30 minutes in the ice bar and leave,” Tandal adds, who expects the ice bar to be an instant hit with the college crowd and tourists.
“We chose this area because it is central to the western suburbs of Bandra, Kandivali, Juhu, Malad and Goregaon, where you get the corporate and college crowds. In any case it will be a destination bar,” he adds.
Tandel admits ice bars can lead to soaring electricity bills, but says the system he has chosen is “energy efficient”. He adds, “In case there is a power cut, we have a backup generator and besides, it takes three to four days for the ice to melt.”