Tag Archives: ice sculptures

Oh, Martha Stewart, THIS is an ice bar

Walk-in ice bar at Damenti's Restaurant, Mountain Top, Pennsylvania

Walk-in ice bar at Damenti’s Restaurant, Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. Photo: Bill Bywater.

Martha Stewart’s wedding website recently featured an ice bar, an 18″ piece of ice sitting on a tabletop, charmingly carved, with cylinders cut out for chilling the bottled beverage of your choice. OK, it was pretty cool. But take a look at the walk-in ice bar constructed at Damenti’s Restaurant in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, for a series of fundraising events this winter. That’s an eighteen-foot-long sculpted ice bar protected by eight-foot Trojans – yes, Martha, this ice bar is bigger than yours.

What’s really cool: Damenti’s owners, Kevin and Helen MacDonald, set up the bar every winter to help raise funds for lots of local charities.

What’s even more cool: You could set up an ice bar like this for an event in the heat of summer.

One of the sculptors who created the walk-in ice bar, Bill Bywater (my big brother ;P), explains how it holds up in winter and summer, and gives some tips for using one at your own event:

With a freezer unit attached it can maintain during those days we had last week that peeked into the high fifties. And the freezer has been off all this week as the temps dropped back down. It will last like this from mid December through St Patrick’s Day.

That said, most customers want to know how it will hold up through an event. The answer is beautifully. All the construction elements are 5 to 10 inches thick making them very durable. Guests will feel a drop in temperature when they step up to the bar to order a cold drink. The ice will shrink at about 1/4 inch an hour at room temperature, resulting in a bar that will still be there the next day.

Even on a hot summer day it will last five hours without issue. Direct sunlight can actually be the bigger foe. The ultraviolet light shatters the crystal structure turning an ice block to rubble, from the outside in. Look at your prospective location at the time of day you will have your event to see where your shadow options are. That is where you want your ice bar. The ice bar looks best in darker setting anyway where it can be up lit or be illuminated with strings of chasing LED lighting.

Also consider reserving the ice bar to vodka drinks, or chilled white wine, a frozen drink or a couples “signature” drink. That way it won’t have ten people in front of it when the cocktail hour starts (so no one can see it). Let a house bar take care of high volume and mixed drinks.

The bar front can be themed or designed to the event at well at the bar top with engraved snow filled lettering.

Love the signature drink idea to avoid a crowd blocking the bar. Suggestions for a chilled signature drink, anyone? Please do share in the Comments section.

UPDATE: It turns out that the tops of the Trojans’ helmets are shot luges. I think I’ve used the word cool too many times in this post to use it again here, which is a shame.

Tips for Finding and Working with a Top-Notch Ice Sculptor (Huppahs.com)

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Recipe: Baked Pears for an Autumn or Early Winter Wedding (Parve or Dairy, Vegetarian)

wedding dessert recipeThese pears work for both elegant and rustic menus. Add homemade berry sauce and serve them as an accompaniment to a slice of light wedding cake or as a side dish for a wedding brunch.

Today my daughters and I packed a brunch and brought it to my parents’ house to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The planned menu included poached pears, but last night, when I should have started the poaching, I hung out with a bunch of brothers and sisters and in-laws instead, talking about, among other things, Bill’s latest ice sculptures. So this morning, my daughters and I prepared the pears by baking them. The prep for baked pears is less fussy and less time-consuming than than for poaching, which makes them an appealing dish not just for easy-going family weekends, but for small self-catered weddings, too.

Serve these baked pear halves with a slice of light wedding cake and homemade berry sauce for a complete wedding dessert, or include them as a side dish for an autumn or early winter wedding brunch. We’ll make the berry sauce recipe our next post.

Menorah Ice Carving Hanukkiah

Menorah Ice Carving Hanukkiah

BTW, here’s a pic of the Hanukkiah ice sculpture Bill carved today during a demonstration at Yeshiva Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in Manhattan.

Ingredients for Baked Pears

Serves 24

  • 12 Bosc or Anjou pears
  • Cooking oil spray
  • ½ cup butter, melted (or for a pareve version to serve with a meat meal, use non-dairy margarine)
  • 6 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions for Baked Pears

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. Lightly spray the bottom of two 9″x13″ baking pans with cooking oil.
  3. Cut pears in half, cut out the core, and peel the pears.
  4. How to bake pears

    Make 4 slices in each pear half, stopping about a quarter inch from the narrow end of the pear.

    Optional: Make four slices in each pear half, stopping about ¼” from the small end. This will enable you to fan out the slices on the plate when you serve it. Or leave the halves unsliced for a more rustic presentation.
  5. Place the pears flat side down in the baking pans.
  6. Mix the melted butter, honey and spices. Drizzle the mixture over the pears.
  7. Cover the pans and bake for 40 minutes or until the pears are tender.

The pears can be stored overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.

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Filed under Catering, Jewish Wedding Planning, Recipes

Tips for Finding and Working with a Top-Notch Ice Sculptor

Just out: This week’s Weekly Wedding Tips: Tips for Finding and Working with a Top-Notch Ice Sculptor

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Special Wedding Details Series: Unique Ice Carvings

When it comes to planning a wedding, I’m a big fan of having one or two stand-out elements; details that will make your wedding personal and memorable and that are worth splurging on a bit in what otherwise might be a tight budget. This post is the first in a series highlighting elements that can serve as those personal, memorable details.

Bill Bywater ice carverGuest Blogger: Bill Bywater
New Windsor, New York

Bill, a commercial sculptor, is a member of the Academy of Ice Carving and Design. Bill’s company, Bywaterworks, was named by that organization as one of the world’s top 200 ice carving companies.

So you have chosen your soul mate, you have chosen your officiate, picked the date, and picked the location. Now you can contact your ice carver. Some larger reception venues, like hotels or catering halls have an ice carver on staff or one that they are used to working with. It is not unreasonable to ask to see photos of their work so you can determine if they can knock out a standard swan or if they can execute a more involved and personalized carving. Ice carvings fall under auspices of the Sous Chef. This kitchen position includes cold food service as well as vegetable and fruit sculpture.

Cinderella's Coach ice sculpture bill bywater

Cinderella's Coach and Horses; Source: http://www.billbywater.com

I did not go school for culinary training, I went to school for sculpture and got into ice carving later. If you need to research who in your area can handle an ice carving for your wedding reception, engagement party, bachelor or bachelorette party or rehearsal dinner, here are some suggestions:

  • 200 Best Ice Carvers. Both this and the next organization’s websites feature lists of dedicated ice carvers.
  • National Ice Carving Association
  • WeddingWire lists ice carvers under “Unique Services”.
  • You could Google “ice carving blocks” to find out who is making crystal clear carving blocks near you. They will know carvers.
  • My site is www.billbywater.com. I serve the Hudson Valley and north to Albany, west to Fairfield, and a little of Northern NJ.

Be ready to tell your ice carver the critical information about your event so they can determine if they can accommodate your needs. Only once the contact person,(usually the bride, groom or wedding planner), tells me the date, location, time and description of the ice carving(s) needed, can I tell them if I am free at that time and what the cost would be.

angels with candles ice carving bill bywater

Angels holding candles; Source: http://www.billbywater.com

For me, ice carvings start at $350 for a single block carving. A single block of ice can become any animal, heart design combination. I have carved an R2D2 robot, a pair of wedding bells, back-to-back saxophones forming a heart, kissing fish, a turtle and frog as bride and groom… you get the idea. This is an area for a couple to express themselves and show their flare. Couples’ names are often incorporated into the carving using a snow fill technique so they show up white.

visitors-services ice carvingI once talked a bride out of getting their names and the date on side-by-side hearts because it would look like a frozen gravestone. We did one large heart, with an arrow and both first names. She was very thankful I could picture the finished carving in my mind as we were discussing it, thus avoiding the headstone look.

Flowers and photographs can also be frozen into the block when it is being made if that is what you would like.

My price includes delivery to a freezer or the table. I also include a drip/display pan with clear hose that goes to a bucket beneath the table and fluorescent lighting. (I do not include the bucket.)

Starting at $500 I can carve the ice right in front of your guests’ eyes. It makes for a fun cocktail party and takes an hour or less. See an ice carving demonstration.

Once you have secured the services of an ice carver, let your caterer know that your carving will be delivered to either their freezer or directly to the table. Most caterers will let you know they can not be held responsible if the carving is damaged ahead of time in the freezer, but they should be willing to have their staff set it up for you. A carving should be in place half and hour to an hour before the room is open to allow it to loose its surface frost from the freezer.

Eiffel Tower ice carving

Eiffel Tower; Source: http://www.billbywater.com

Determine with your table layout where the ice carving will go, and make sure it is indicated on the room layout design. Plan on not moving the ice carving once it is set up. If your reception is outdoors, avoid direct sunlight. I tell folks an ice carving will be in good shape for three or four hours, but the slow melting is also part of the elusiveness of the medium. Wings and fins can look better and better as they melt, so birds and fish are often the subject matter for ice carvings.

Ice carvings do not have to be just stuck on the buffet.

More info about ice carvings at weddings:

Walk-in ice bar at Damenti's Restaurant, Mountain Top, Pennsylvania

Walk-in ice bar at Damenti’s Restaurant, Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. Photo: Bill Bywater.

And take a look at this: Oh, Martha Stewart, THIS is an ice bar

Contact Bill Bywater.

Bill Bywater is a professional commercial sculptor. His talents are often applied to architectural restoration projects, and he has sculpted sets and props for Broadway shows and movies (his name is one of the ones you see racing by at the end of movies). He turns his talents to creating unique ice sculptures for weddings and corporate events through his company, Bywaterworks.

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