An interesting day yesterday, as I spent some time at a product launch that was partially held at the Minus Five Bar. The launch and products were actually pretty good, but as for the bar itself? Well, if I didn’t know better — and if they weren’t actually running a bunch of these bars in New Zealand already — I’d say somebody was deliberately trying to burn money as fast as they could, possibly for tax reasons.
The thing about the Minus Five bar — aside from the whole “It’s all made of ice” thing — is that all the ice is apparently imported. The big chunks that make up the bar, sculptures and seats are all Canadian ice, while the glasses are all imported from New Zealand. Now, I know that Australia is something of a warm country, and in some parts of the world we’re seen as somewhat backwards, but I had always presumed that we did, in fact, know the secret to making ice. Start with water, make it a bit colder, that kind of thing.
A $30 charge buys you 30 minutes in a big puffy jacket at, suitably enough a constant five degrees below. That includes one drink — $40 will apparently buy you two, and they’re all largely vodka based hard spirits. I’d hate to think what would happen to a beer tap. The gimmick is a cute one, but I’d be somewhat surprised to still see it open in twelve months time, as it’s something of a one-trick pony.
You can’t really chat anyone up, as underneath the big puffy jackets everyone kinda looks the same, and you’re limited to thirty minutes exposure at any one time. You’re limited in your drinks choices for environmental reasons, and can’t even buy more once you’re in there — coins would be a problem, as would notes, and your credit card could get stuck in the bar. Sure, a vomiting drunk could create interesting modern art sculptures, but beyond that, I can’t see too many people making it a regular stop — and isn’t the whole bar business built on return patronage, by and large?