CHENA HOT SPRINGS - It’s not unusual to find ice at a bar. But at the Aurora Ice Museum at the Chena Hot Springs Resort near Fairbanks almost everything you’ll find is, well, made out of ice.
The bar itself is frozen solid, as are the bar stools, covered with fur so you don’t freeze your butt off. Even the martini glasses will stick to your lips if you’re not careful.
“Ice is a little different than anything else. Ice gets a reaction. I can't explain it. There’s something about ice, the colors, the shapes, it has a magical quality about it,” said Steve Brice.
He and his wife Heather are the world champion carvers behind the winter wonderland.
“The jousting knight scene is one of the most popular. It was challenging to do but I love touching it up and it's one of the favorites,” said Heather.
Elaborate sculptures, like an igloo, leopard and even a couple of ice beds, fill every corner of the museum. If that’s not enough work to keep Steve and Heather busy, there’s the martini glasses.
Using a specialty lathe Steve built, Heather seamlessly carves a glass, start to finish, in just a couple of minutes. She’s makes it look easy because she’s done it a few times. Together she and Steve make about 16,000 glasses a year.
“Each glass gets its own martini top which is made out of man-made blocks that are about 300 pounds. We make two of those every three days,” said Heather.
After seven years of working in 20-degree temperatures, the Brice’s could use a fireplace that’s not frozen.
“We're trying to get where cold is not an issue. Both of us aren't really fond of cold but we love what we do enough to put up with it,” said Steve. Heather says they have found ways to stay warm including a lot of layers and a lot of coffee.
Admission to the Ice Museum is $15 and that includes an appletini at the end of the tour in one of the signature glasses.