Escobar puts outdoor operation on ice

by Carolyn Sackariason, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

An outdoor bar that has graced the Hyman Avenue mall for the past two summers has been put on ice, literally, for the winter.

Escobar nightclub co-owner Ryan Chadwick said he’s planning to open next week an aprés ski ice bar in the same area that his summer venue was located. The bar will made out of two 8-foot-by-2-foot solid pieces of ice that will be 4 feet tall. Chadwick said he’s hoping the bar, made by ice carver Scott Rella, will be delivered either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Chadwick has been working with the city of Aspen on extending his liquor license and lease on the outdoor mall space, which are pending.

City Clerk Kathryn Koch said the lease and liquor license are currently being worked on, and hours of operation will be limited from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. The plan has been approved by the city’s Commercial Core and Lodging Commission (CCLC).

Chadwick said he has met with the CCLC three or four times in recent months to hash out the plan, which is seen by some officials as an opportunity to bring vitality to the pedestrian mall.

“I think it’s smart for the city to do this,” Chadwick said. “The idea is to bring more people to that area, and we wanted to do something different.”

Libations will include champagne, vodka and other spirits; Escobar is in the midst of forging deals with liquor sponsors. Caviar also is being considered as an offering.

The bar itself will eventually have snow benches surrounding the 250-square-foot area, and outdoor heaters will be set up. By comparison, the summer set-up was about 560 square feet, Chadwick said.

His background is in ice — he used to run an ice company in Nantucket — so he has experience in knowing how to maintain the below-freezing infrastructure, provided global warming doesn’t come this winter in earnest.

“It will be there, weather pending,” Chadwick said. “It will be cool to work with a snow-scape.”

The lease extension will go from December through February, and the outdoor bar will be on a trial basis.

The mall is owned by the city and technically doesn’t allow an outdoor bar in the middle of it, but that was amended a few years ago to try the experiment, which has appeared to have stuck.

 Ian Perry, also a co-owner of Escobar, said the ice bar will be geared to more high-end liquors, and he hopes it will add to not only a somewhat lacking aprés scene but also to the mix of downtown landmarks — like the bear or monkey statues where people often take photos of themselves in front of.

“Our ultimate goal is to create vitality for the Hyman Avenue mall,” he said. “We want a nice, celebratory place.”