On our quest to find the Top 5 Las Vegas Cocktail Bars, we went to a number of different bars and clubs in Las Vegas in search of the perfect cocktail. In doing so, we found a bar that we felt was better visited for the experience of the bar than the cocktails it serves.
Minus 5º Ice Bar is located in both the Monte Carlo and in the Mandalay Bay (the Monte Carlo is slightly bigger, newer and less crowded). The cover charge for the bar (which starts at $25) includes entry into the bar, a parka, boots, and gloves to keep you warm, and your first cocktail. During off hours there are typically people standing outside the entry passing out cards for an additional free shot, which is worth snagging if you plan to go inside.
After exchanging your shoes for boots and doning a coat, you’re lead into a staging area which acts as buffer zone for the bar. This buffer zone is kept at freezing level to help you acclimatize to the cold as they explain how the bar works. Minus 5º features 80 tons of ice preserved with extremely strong dehumidifiers. This means the ice is dry to the touch and you don’t really see your breath. Pieces of the ice bar are remade seasonally and the entire bar is broken down and remade every year.
After the orientation, the door opens and you’re met with what looks like a huge meat locker retrofitted with Las Vegas’ interpretation of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Ice sculptures line all the walls and range from the downright cool (like a Belvedere-themed ice forest corner) to the utterly cheesy (a bare-breasted ice luge where you get shots out of the nipples).
The real star of the show is a fully stocked ice bar in the center of the room. Since the room is kept at such a low temperature, the bar doesn’t have the typical soda gun, and with juice quickly freezing, the bartenders must constantly rotate the juice to an adjoining room. As with most Las Vegas bars, the main focus of Minus 5º is vodka, and we were impressed at the wide selection of vodkas offered here.
Cocktails at Minus 5º are served in glasses made of ice. Priced at $10 each (after you consume the one you paid for with your door fee), the cocktails are less expensive than at most bars in Las Vegas, but we didn’t find them to be the highlight of the experience. Drinking cocktails out of ice glasses is a very cool experience, and if we were to do it again we’d probably just opt for vodka shots or vodka sodas over the set cocktail list, or we’d order another simple spirit and mixer off the menu.
The cold temperatures in Minus 5º aren’t trivial, and after about twenty or thirty minutes you do get quite cold. We couldn’t really imagine spending more than an hour inside this bar. An important phenomenon to be aware of is that the effect of the alcohol consumed in this bar gets amplified when stepping out from the icy bar into the warm casino. Bar staff commented that they often see people who have been drinking heavily inside literally hit the deck when they go outside. The icy environment also tends to bring out the bravado in people, and on a busy Saturday night it’s not completely uncommon to see someone strip down to their underwear to show they can brave the cold.
Minus 5º is more than a bar, it’s an experience. As such, the bar takes photos of people which of course are available for purchase at the end of your icy journey. We enjoyed Minus 5º so much that we plan to make it a regular stop on our regular trips to Vegas.
Minus 5º Ice Bar is located at both the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino (where these pictures were taken) at 3770 Las Vegas Blvd, South Las Vegas, NV 89109, as well as the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino at 3950 Las Vegas Blvd, South Las Vegas, NV 89119. You can also get more information on the Minus 5º Experience here.