I'm standing holding part of Sweden's Torne River in my hand, sipping Pommery champagne and something doesn't feel quite right: the champagne is actually warmer than my glass. This strange role-reversal is the result of only one thing; I'm at Ice Bar London, celebrating its 10th anniversary where it's launching its latest design: ROCK.
Set to -5 degrees Celsius, Ice Bar London Rocks is the only permanent ice bar in the city. It originated 10 years ago in collaboration with the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi in northern Sweden, located 200 km north of the Arctic Circle.
Jens Thoms Ivarsson is director of design at the Ice Hotel, and returns to London every year to design and carve the new theme, just like at the hotel before it melts again in the spring.
The ice itself is imported from a lake bordering Sweden and Norway, 300km north of the Arctic Circle. Some 5,000 tonnes of ice is harvested in March in the peak of the winter, and 40 tonnes is brought over to create the Ice Bar.
Director of design Jens Thoms Ivarsson doing a practice skull before the main event
This year's rock motif is carried throughout the interior with skulls, studs protruding from the walls and the key Rock 'n' Roll icon featuring across the main wall. The figure was designed by award-winning South African illustrator and book cover designer, Joey Hi-Fi.
Once carved into the ice, the exquisite detail make this one of the most detailed visual designs ever attempted in ice: tattoos adorn the rocker's arms, a wolf is emblazed across her jacket and accents bring her hair to life.
Everything inside the bar is crafted from ice, down to the very last glass. Despite appreciating the charismatic rock elements, what I find most captivating is the natural contours visible in the ice from the different stresses of the river, making each hand-selected block of ice unique. This natural phenomenon is made possible because of the sheer clarity of the ice, as the Torne River is one of the few rivers left in the world that you can drink.
Ivarsson speaks at the launch of the ice bar:
'I'm a designer, an artist, a sculptor, and I do this for one reason alone: passion.'
Working with the rock theme was difficult, says Ivarsson, as he didn't want it to come across as cheap.
'I listen a lot to music and also play music, it's the main source of inspiration for my work, and I know that anyone who loves music is going to love these designs, and who doesn't love music?' says Ivarsson.
However the key was to use various ice formations, such as the rock studs, for different angles break the light, and that's what makes the ice come alive.
Where: Ice Bar London 31-33 Heddon Street, London W1B 4BN
When: Now open