Cocktails on Ice: Carved Glacial Bar in Patagonia

October 24, 2011 by

Festivals & Events, Free Things to Do, Sightseeing

Explore the glaciers, and ice bars, of El Calafate

The tiny, touristy town of El Calafate in Argentina, not quite at the tip of South America itself, is the gateway to all manner of exquisite attractions carved from Patagonia‘s glacial landscape. The village is a popular base for hikers, climbers, and sightseers, who come to visit Torres Del Paine National Park and Los Glaciares National Park.

Just a few kilometers outside this increasingly popular destination is Argentina’s newest museum, the Glaciarium, and architecturally impressive institution dedicated to educating visitors about Patagonia’s massive ice fields. It is an excellent introduction to the wilderness all around you, such as nearby Lago Argentino, a glacial lake where flamingos and travelers flock to enjoy photogenic Perito Moreno Glacier.

While it is well worth drinking deeply of the scientific knowledge the museum affords, you may also want to check out the Glaciarium’s newest “exhibit,” the GlacioBar. A dozen craftspeople worked for nine months on the bar, which is entirely—tables, chairs, walls, glasses, everything—hewn from Perito Moreno Glacier. While there are other ice bars around the world, this is the only one made of glacial ice, and will theoretically survive each summer intact—though the climate change exhibits in the museum might make you wonder.

The bar is kept at –8°C (–17.6°F), so you’ll want to don the shimmering capes, boots, and gloves provided in the bar’s anteroom. You’ll only be allowed 20 minutes inside, where the house specialties comes courtesy of the bar’s corporate sponsor, Fernet Branca, a brand of the potent, and medicinal, herbal liquor that is sometimes considered Argentina’s national drink.

Though usually mixed with Coca Cola, Glacio Bar’s signature cocktail mixes fernat with amaretto, pineapple juice and calafate berry (Magellan barberry) liquor. Served on ice (of course), it should still warm you up quite nicely for further adventures into Patagonia.

-Paige Penland

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