We Milwaukeeans like to think of ourselves as a hardy bunch; our seemingly unending winters with sub-zero thermometers are the norm. But it’s nothing a cold glass of Schlitz or a hot mug of whiskey can’t keep at bay. Right now, and for as long as those temps play along, there’s an outdoor drinking igloo in the Third Ward that knows this target audience (that is, cold-weather booze-hounds known as Wisconsinites).

St. Paul Fish Company, a downtown mainstay at the Milwaukee Public Market since 2005, runs the Caribbean-themed Ice Bar. Considering how popular their restaurant and seafood market is, having an overflow space for people to hang out and wait for a table was a no-brainer.

What seems to have taken surprisingly-little convincing, was moving those crowds outdoors in a Wisconsin winter. Nothing a few tons of ice couldn’t solve.

Harvested from a nearby inland lake, giant blocks of crystal-clear ice were stacked and formed by a, no joke, professional ice art company called Art Below Zero. There’s a guy for everything.

While we opted for a piping-hot whiskey and apple cider to keep us content, you can opt for the surreal experience of ordering fresh oysters that don’t even need to come out on a bed of ice to stay fresh.

The space is small, which in addition to the St. Paul-provided blankets and heaters, helped keep us pushed together and conserving body heat. Everyone’s friends at the ice bar.

If you start to get too cold, there’s always a full and delicious seafood menu steps away inside St. Paul’s. (They say not to get into a boiling hot bath if you’re freezing cold. Lenny the Lobster didn’t seem to heed that warning.)

The Ice Bar at St. Paul’s Fish Company in the Third Ward will be open Wed & Thurs 5-8, Friday 4 – 11, Saturday 11 AM – 11 PM and Sunday 11 AM – 6 PM until it melts. In 2018, St Paul’s will be joined by Cafe Benelux and The Wicked Hop, turning Broadway and St Paul into a veritable ice bar intersection.

With some warmer temps and possible rain in the forecast, you better head down there soon. And if you normally order your whiskey on the rocks, you probably won’t need to this time.

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