India's first ice-lounge, 21 Fahrenheit, promises to take the concept of chilling out to a new high

Chilling out as a concept has taken on a new dimension altogether with Hyacinth Lifestyles introducing “21 Fahrenheit” the first-ever ice lounge in India.

The dynamic trio of Hyacinth Lifestyles Vaibhav Tandel (CEO of Hyacinth), Aalok Purohit (AVP Marketing) and Harshan Dharmadas (AVP Operations) came together while working on a similar project in Dubai. When the three realised that India didn't have an ice-bar/lounge, a prominent feature in London, Canada, Las Vegas and other places, they thought, ‘Why not be the pioneers?' And so the three joined forces to create “21 Fahrenheit”, an 820 sq. ft. bar-lounge in Andheri, Mumbai.

“The term ‘concept restaurant' is used casually in India. In reality, a concept restaurant is one that builds its décor, menu, facilities etc in keeping with a particular theme/concept. The ice lounge seemed a delightful idea, considering that India has sub-tropical climate and people would love a place where they could not only have fun but also chill out, literally speaking!” explains Harshan.

Concept-driven

Vaibhav elaborates, “21 Fahrenheit is just one of the many firsts we have planned. Hyacinth Lifestyles was formed with the objective of introducing concept-driven properties to India. Ice bars can sometimes be seen as a gimmick and remain open for only three to four months. But we plan to keep 21 Fahrenheit open all year round, while constantly introducing new and exciting features: everything from the drinks to the interiors will be changed every six months. The whole beauty of ice is that you can do what you want with it.”

21 Fahrenheit is indeed a marvel, to say the least. Stepping inside the simple, frosted-glass doorway, guests begin their evening with a quick drink at the bar strategically located near the entrance. Then one is ushered into a dressing-area. Puzzled? Well, here guests are offered a navy blue furry Parka and insulated moon-boots and gloves, all specially designed to brave the chill that awaits inside. If you've any qualms about hygiene, Aalok is reassuring “We offer a fresh set of this thermal gear to every guest who walks in. Once worn, the set is immediately sent to the laundry. What's more, we stock all sizes because we have kids as young as five years to adults as old as 65 years visiting us.”

Ensconced in the thermal-wear, you step into the icy confines of 21 Fahrenheit and a blast of cold air welcomes you. Nothing you have heard prepares you for the real thing. Everything — from the seats to the walls to the curtains to the chandeliers to the crockery — is made of ice! “Except the flooring (tiled to keep people from slipping), everything is made of ice. It was quite a task to create the curtains with petal-shaped ice pieces hung on a special string and to make sure the heat from the lights does not melt the ice but instead gives you a soft glow. However, we were adamant about settling for nothing but the authentic. So we worked diligently on ideas till we found the right way. In fact, we were able to have energy-efficient lighting custom-made to suit the feel for a lounge. We have designed every piece on our own and have a team of professional ice-carvers working with us to manifest those ideas. Care has been taken to make the glasses and other cutlery like sushi platters from edible ice so that even if one consumes the glass/crockery by mistake, it won't create a problem,” say the partners.

It is attention to such details that has made 21 Fahrenheit a huge hit with the young and old alike within a span of 2-3 weeks since its inauguration. “We get a footfall of 200 people daily on an average with 60-70 coming in the afternoons from 2.00 p.m., which is when we open. We've already hosted a birthday party where the guests were super-excited to cut the cake and have fun in –6 degree Celsius!” smiles Aalok, even as Harshan adds, “We've also had queries about hosting product launches, fashion shows and bachelor parties. It's been an overwhelming response.”

Wholesome experience

Well, the response is as much for the place as for its innovative and tongue-tickling cuisine that the trio has developed after much research. “We're the first ice lounge to offer eatables instead of just drinks because we wanted our guests to have a wholesome experience when they come to enjoy here. Thus it is that they can enjoy various kinds of sushi and sashimi, desserts as well as desi stuff with a twist, such as vodka pani puri.”

The ice lounge will soon be accompanied by a pan-Asian restaurant overhead. “That will have authentic Indian, Japanese, Chinese and Thai cuisine and an interactive kitchen.” One can gain admission with an acclimatisation charge of Rs. 750 per head, which entitles you to a welcome drink (mocktails or jelly shots) and thermal gear. You are then billed for what you eat/drink.

The trio agree that it is tedious to maintain the ice lounge. “We've hired a team of professional ice-maintainers who regularly clean stains, repair chipped ice etc. We also have put in place specialised systems and a team to monitor those to maintain the temperature at –6 degree C (21 Fahrenheit), which is what has inspired the name) and a generator backup in case of a power failure.”

No wonder, then, 21 Fahrenheit has become, and promises to remain, Mumbai's coolest nightspot.