There are few places as dark and inhospitable as the inside of a freezer. But at the Ice Box Bar, the one-time site of Mobile’s historic Crystal Ice Factory, that simple truth is flipped completely on its head.
“We wanted to plop a bar inside the freezer room without changing much,” says owner and developer Taylor Atchison. “So we left the condenser and as much of the freezer walls and panels as we could.”
Atchison, known throughout Mobile for his dynamic restorations of historic properties (think Marine Street Lofts, Old Shell Lofts), fell in love with the former ice factory at first sight. After struggling to find tenants for the Monroe Street property, he decided to pursue his own business concept, a first for the developer. He recruited Stoney Boatman, a veteran of the Mobile bar scene, to be his general manager, and the pair went to work on developing a concept. “Our goal was just to be a small neighborhood bar that offers an indoor-outdoor feel,” Atchison says, arms on the white quartz bar. “We wanted to be a daytime, airy neighborhood spot.”
When it came to creating a drink menu, Boatman says he “really wanted to do something that was three steps above a dive bar and three steps below a craft bar” — in other words, quality drinks that can be churned out quickly. Staying true to its icy history, the bar also offers an extensive frozen cocktail menu, which can be enjoyed in a new outdoor area complete with rope swings, and food trucks serve peckish patrons from Thursday to Sunday.
The interior is trendy with an industrial edge: bare-bulb light fixtures, a mammoth sliding freezer door, metal rafters. Original Crystal Ice signage and historic photos serve as an homage to the room’s unique past. Eclectic artwork adds to the playful atmosphere, and of course, there are the games. “I love a game,” Atchison says, pointing out the bumper pool, darts, giant Jenga, horseshoes and ping-pong table on the former loading dock. “We have such a diverse crowd of customers,” Boatman adds, “and the game aspect kind of gets people interacting.”
With room to expand, Atchison says he has some surprises up his sleeve. In the meantime, stop by Monroe Street and take a cue from the sign over the dartboard: “Have an ice day.”
On the Menu
This play on a 1920s hangover cure is a strained blend of bourbon, London Dry Gin, simple syrup and sweetened lime juice.
While most are familiar with the “salty dog” cocktail — made with vodka, grapefruit juice and a salted rim — this tequila version requires a south-of-the-border name alteration.
Ice Box Bulldog
Think “white Russian meets vanilla.” Coffee liqueur, half and half, and vanilla vodka poured over ice and topped with Abita Root Beer? What’s Russian for “yes, please?”
This concoction, an homage to the Quinlivan family of Crystal Ice Co., is a light and sweet mix of lime, simple syrup, Jameson, soda water and lemon lime soda.
The Ice Box Bar • 755 Monroe St. • 2 p.m. – 11 p.m. T – F; 12 p.m. – 11 p.m. Sa & Su; closed M