Ice baby, ice and Stoli

Why on earth would anyone wear a ski jacket and knit-cap to a party in the Cayman Islands?

It must have been a longing to return to the frozen tundra university days in upstate New York. Or perhaps it’s possible to attend too many parties in 80 degree weather on the beach?

Nah, can’t possibly be the latter.

But Tortuga Rum Company and Stoli Elit vodka, along with the Crescendo Group and Over the Top promotions, did change things up quite a bit on Friday, 25 February…by throwing a party in a freezer.

It was a really big freezer. And The Journal was invited.

“We’ve built a 25-foot by 80-foot walk-in freezer for our patty business, we’ve got Tastee Patty on Island,” says Tortuga Senior Sales and Marketing executive Alex McClenaghan. “It just all came together; there’s a new promotional company called ‘Over the Top’ that wanted to launch themselves with a signature event and we delayed the switch over of the freezer for a few weeks so we could throw this kick a** party.”

The freezer is at the Tortuga plant on North Sound Road and will be able to hold some 1.5 million patties when stocked to capacity. But breakfast food was not what the 25 February party was about.

It was actually to promote Stoli’s top-of-the-line vodka product, Elit, which is relatively new to Cayman, only having arrived in the past nine months or so; although Elit products have been around for about 100 years world-wide.

“This is a first in Cayman,” says Tortuga Wines and Spirits brand manager Barnaby Richardson. “Tortuga is all about bringing firsts to the Island. It’s about trying to arrest people’s senses…trying to stimulate the party scene, trying to do something different.”

There were three temperature levels set for the party. Just outside the front door, lit in fluorescent blue, was the outside lounge…mainly just a few tables in the typical warm Cayman air for those who simply couldn’t take the climate in the walk-in freezer.

A separate ‘chill lounge’ was much colder than outside – maybe around 50F degrees – with a small beer bar and some comfy chairs and couches installed.

“That’s just in case the ‘ice palace’ is a little too cold,” Alex says.

A little too cold?

It’s approaching freezing temperatures, but once you pile enough warm bodies into a 25×80 foot walk-in freezer and get ‘em dancing, it warms up enough.

Two bartenders – sans gloves – staff the solid ice bar that is made complete on either side by a ‘shot luge’ (basically, somebody pours a liquor shot through a tube and into the throat of the person below – who must put their head in a hole carved in the ice).

The DJ, located just to the left of the bar, was completely encased in an ice wall, literally floating above the floor of the freezer.

“We’ve got to thank Mike’s Ice for that as well,” Alex says. “It took them two weeks to make that much ice. We had 3,500 pounds of ice, two ice sculptures, the ice luge, a floating DJ booth.

“Ice cold drinks by Stoli Elit vodka…great beats by DJ Excess and the coolest party ever to hit this Island,” Alex says.

The event was probably the only such party that will be held in the Tortuga freezer; they have to store the patties, after all. There were actually two parties held; one for industry people on Wednesday 23 February and another on 25 February for about 150 select invitees.

“It was promoted to a specific group of people we thought would really take to our product,” Alex says. “I would love to have this as a regular event.”

Sadly, the mammoth freezer is now stocked with patty (or maybe not, if they’re part of your breakfast menu).

But it was definitely a cool party.


The party freezer, just before everyone arrived. – Photo: Carsley Fuller