There are very few experiences that I’ve had that compare to vodka tasting in a room that is 25* below 0. Actually, I have never had an experience quite like the one I had in Whistler, British Columbia.
If you have kept up with my blog, then you know that Brady and I took a business trip up to Whistler this past June. One of the many things we did while soaking in this picturesque town was vodka tasting.
Barefoot Bistro in Whistler Village is home to the coldest ice room in the world – the Belvedere Ice Room. This room is housed just off the bar/lounge area of the restaurant and is showcased by a glass door to allow those not brave enough to spectate from the comfort of the warm bar.
The particular night that Brady and I went was on a Tuesday and we were lucky enough to call in a mere few hours before we went and secure a reservation. When we arrived, we were seated at the bar and told to get a drink as it would be just a bit before the group in front of us finished up.
When it was our turn, we were ushered back to a dressing area to gear up. We were given Canada Goose Arctic down parkas to put over our clothes. Truth be told, if I could have found a way to steal the bohemuth parka, I would have. It was incredible. We made our way into the ice room with our guide and the blast of cold air was enough to make me want to pee myself. The room is kept at a bone-chilling -25*F, but with our warm, heavy parkas on, it was extremely tolerable. The only part of my body that endured frost bit was my feet due to the fact that I was wearing heels (this is not an ideal footwear choice as the floors are icy, but we had just walked over from a fancy group dinner at Quattro so I didn’t have much of a choice).
Cut into the walls of the ice room were individual nooks for each bottle of vodka as well as what I am assuming are the logos for the ice room’s sponsors, but don’t quote me on that. We were then told that we would be sampling four vodkas – three of our choice and of course, Belvedere. While this sounds like an easy feat, I can assure you it wasn’t. The ice room has over 50 vodkas from 12 different countries – you try picking just three.
We chose our vodkas one at a time and our guide gave us the history behind each vodka before we tasted it. He then proceeded to pour the vodka into 1/2 ounce shot glasses made of ice, of course, and we were then told how to say “cheers” in the language in which the country the vodka was made in…after that…bottoms up! What I expected to come next was an ugly face followed by a gag from the taste, but it never came. Because the vodka is so cold, it becomes much smoother, the flavor is enhanced, and there is no burn. Perfect!
We continued with the next three vodkas (I didn’t write down what any of them were), had a photo op, and were led out of the room and got out of our parkas.
A few things to note about this experience:
- We drank the equivalent of two normal (1 oz) vodka shots
- We spent about 13 minutes in the ice room and stayed relatively warm the entire time
- The experience costs us $48 per person
- We would do it again in a heartbeat
I was skeptical about wanting to try the vodka tasting at first because I absolutely cannot stand the stuff. While the vodka still had its distinct taste, it was not near like what we are used to tasting, especially because there was little to no burn. If I ever find myself in Whistler again, I will be booking another vodka tasting. What is traveling if we do not get to experience new things?
Please Note: The Belvedere Ice Room has now changed to the Ketal One Ice Room due to change in sponsorship. It is still located at the Barefoot Bistro in Whistler, British Columbia.