When life gives you snow, make an ice bar! I live in an area that gets a lot of snow and around the beginning of March, I start to get the snow crazies. I’m ready for Spring, but with each new March snowfall I start to get a little bit more twitchy. It was during one of these March snowfalls that I was looking into our backyard at a large snowdrift and thought, “that would make a great bar!”
A week later, we were having an Ice Bar (technically snow bar) Party! In this podcast/blog post I’ll take you through our process of turning a snow drift into a snow bar, adding glowing ice spheres to the snow bank, making snowball decorations out of foam balls and coffee filters, making food for an outdoor Winter party, and making ice bowls for the outdoor bar.
Getting the yard ready:
This meant shoveling, lots of shoveling.
We have a propane fire pit that was buried under a few feet of snow on our deck, so the first step was to dig down and find it.
- To create the ice/snow bar, we started by cutting into the snow with shovels to make the general shape. Unfortunately, some of the snow was very light, fluffy snow that doesn’t always hold it’s shape, so we packed it down very gently using a little water mist (which froze almost instantly in the cold) for added strength.
- Then we used a board and a folding table to hold the shape in the front, while we filled in with a little more snow.
- We secured the boards and let it sit for a few days to compact and harden a little. The big piece of ice in the middle (picture below) is actually part of a large icicle we knocked down.
- The day before the party we removed the forms and smoothed out the top.
- On the day of the party we cleaned up the front removing excess snow on the sides to make it flat across the front, and carefully dug in an alcove in the top tier to hold 4 bottles.
- We placed LED battery lights in jar tops behind the bottles in the alcove so they would have a slight glow.
- Then we added the bottles, the ice bowls for ice and garnish, a few mixers and we were good to go!
- As people arrived they added to the bar with ice wine, beer, and additional liquor, so I’m glad we left some extra space on the bar.
Glowing Ice Spheres:
- They were going to be complete spheres, but we had a water seepage malfunction, so they became half spheres! When in the snow you only see the top half anyway, so no problem!
- We found a plastic ball that twisted open to make two halves (6″ diameter). We filled each half with water (you can also add food coloring to the water, but I kept mine clear) then placed it in another bowl for stability (or you could freeze water balloons).
- Freeze overnight, remove from bowl (use a little warm water if it doesn’t pop out) and store outside until you are ready to use.
- Dig a shallow hole in the snow slightly bigger than the ice ball (or half ball) and place a jar lid with a LED battery light in the back of the hole. I was using mason jars as tea light holders, so I used all the extra mason jar lids for the LED lights.
- Just before guests arrive, turn on the lights and place the ice over the light in the hole.
- Once it’s fully dark you’ll see the light glow through the ice (looks blue in most of the photos)!
- Materials needed:
- Fishing line
- 3″ Smoothfoam ball
- 8″ coffee filters (about 100 per ball)
- Unsharpened pencil
- Thread the fishing line through a foam ball and tie securely leaving a tail long enough to hang from ceiling (or final desired location).
- If desired, mark the foam ball with a marker to designate spots to glue filters, but I suggest a light color, not one that can easily be seen when complete.
- Form one coffee filter around the unsharpened end of the pencil, put a dab of glue on the end, and stick it to the ball (holding for a few seconds to make sure it sticks).
- Repeat about 100 times, until ball is full.
- Cut line to desired length and hang!
- Crock pot hot cocoa (with Baileys, chocolate vodka, and vanilla vodka available to add)
- Crock pot apple cider (with spiced rum)
- Popcorn in individual paper bags
- Krispie Caramel Marshmallows
- Spicy Lime Cashews
- Spicy Roasted Almonds
- Pretzel rods
- Ginger Snaps
- Puppy Chow sweet snack mix (but I called them Snowflakes)
I created bowls of ice for the garnish and ice cubes on the bar.
- For the garnish bowls:
- I started with a 9×9 casserole dish
- Placed four ½ inch thick lemon slices in the dish
- I filled four ramekins (about 3.5″ diameter across the top, 2.5″ across the bottom) with about an inch of water and placed one on each lemon slice
- Then fill the dish with water almost to the top and place in freezer overnight (add more water to the ramekins if they start to float).
- Note: Make sure each ramekin is surrounded by water (not touching each other or touching the side of the dish, so you have complete cups when complete and no holes).
- When frozen, remove the ramekins then remove the ice from the dish (use a little warm water if it doesn’t pop out) and you now have a serving dish with four wells for garnish (with lemon on the bottom) made of ice!
- Ice Cube bowl:
- Start by picking out two bowls that nest evenly into each other with at least an inch to spare all the way around. I used a larger bowl with a top opening of 10″ and a smaller bowl with a top opening of 7.75″.
- Take the larger bowl and fill an inch or two with water (I put a few ice cubes in there too) and put in the freezer. This will be a base for the inside bowl to stand on.
- Once the base is frozen, place the smaller bowl inside and fill with water.
- Note: You may need to secure the inner bowl from moving around, you want it to be dead center without touching the sides of the outer bowl. I used masking table in an X across the top, but Press and Seal or Saran Wrap will probably work well too.
- Freeze overnight, then remove the inner bowl (using warm water if needed) and you have a clear bowl of made of ice!
We were lucky with the weather on party night, it was warm (in the high 20’s, which after this winter was warm for us!), it didn’t snow, it wasn’t windy, and everyone loved spending the evening outside! Of course, standing around a fire pit drinking adult beverages takes the chill off too.
A few additional notes:
- I used paper hot cups for the cider and cocoa and clear plastic cups for the cold drinks
- Paper napkins
- I made all finger food, so no plasticware was needed
- The only light we had was from the fire pit, the ice spheres, the lights on the bar, and about 10 mason jars with candles burning inside. It was plenty of light for our small space and kept that cozy atmosphere.
- I also put our Star Wars AT-AT on the snow bank, because awesome!
- AT-AT podcast correction: There are two schools of thought on how to pronounce “AT-AT”, phonetically or to say the letters. In the podcast I say “AT-AT” phonetically, because that’s just how I like to say it, but the nerd in me does acknowledge that the correct pronunciation should be the letters (ay-tee, ay-tee).
- We started our party about an hour before sundown, so we were able to watch the transformation of the bar and ice spheres as the daylight faded and the LEDs started to show. No one noticed the spheres in the daylight, but once it was dark and they were glowing in the snow bank it was an added element of interest in what would have been a dark, empty space.
We had so much fun with this party and can’t wait to do it again next year (if we have the right weather and snow conditions)! But this was a good first attempt and not bad for going from snow drift to ice bar in one week!
Thanks for visiting and have fun planning your next event!