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North Shore ice bar takes shape

Workers with Ice Occasions construct the bar Monday at Blu, an ice bar at the Grand Superior Lodge north of Two Harbors. Brittany Berrens / Lake County News-Chronicle

The Blu Ice Bar at the Grand Superior Lodge on Highway 61 just north of Two Harbors is back.

This year, organizers have built a bigger bar, using about 70,000 pounds of ice in three times the space as last year's ice bar.

The Split Rock Lighthouse was chosen as the bar's theme, with a large ice replica of the lighthouse at the center of the bar, complete with a beacon light. Four other lighthouses from around Lake Superior also will be featured, including the Two Harbors lighthouse.

Designers said they also put more thought into lighting and design. A large ice wall and ice chandeliers have different-colored lights that dance and change color to replicate the Northern Lights.

Andrew Fine, the general manager at Grand Superior Lodge, said the ice bar is about embracing a northern Minnesota winter.

"Essentially this is an ice gallery for the winter," he said of the artistic ice carvings.

The plans for the ice bar have been three months in the making. Hotel staff first brainstormed the types of themes they might want for the bar. They took their ideas to Chris Swarbrick, an ice carver with Ice Occasions from the Twin Cities area. Swarbrick and his team then made a computer model of the design and figured out the logistics and how many 300-pound blocks would be needed to complete the design.

Ice Occasions carvers were busy at work Monday chipping, sanding, and sawing away at ice blocks to make the ice sculptures. A?mixture of water and slush is used as a type of glue to keep chunks of ice together to form the Split Rock replica. Ice was delivered last weekend and crews were expected to put the final touches on the ice bar Wednesday, just in time for the grand opening.

Fine said they plan to have various winter activities throughout the season, including sled dog demonstrations and winter games.

The bar also is serving more than alcohol. Sushi and other appetizers inspired by the North Shore will be served--all on ice of course.

Blue Ice Bar will be open Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m. for as long as weather permits, and is also available for private events. Visit for more information.