A Bartender at Work in Antarctica

(Photo: Winni Wintermeyer/The Guardian)

Phil Broughton got sick of his job in Silicon Valley and decided to get away--as far away as possible. That led him to job managing liquid nitrogen and helium supplies at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, an American base located at the geographic South Pole. While there, he became the base's unofficial bartender. Mr. Broughton described the experience in The Guardian:

The bar there, probably the most remote on Earth, was called Club 90 South. Despite being surrounded by ice for 800 miles in every direction, and 8,000 miles away from the local bars I knew, it seemed completely familiar to me: there were six bar stools, a scattering of tables and couches, a pool table, TV and music.

One Saturday night soon after I arrived, I walked in and the seat behind the bar was the only one free. Someone said, "Hey, can you get me a beer?" "Do I look like a bartender?" I asked. "Well," he said, "you're behind the bar. Do you know how to mix anything?" I was 26, and had picked up a few tricks at parties. "As a matter of fact, I do," I said. And there I stayed for the rest of the year.

On special occasions, I combined the new role with my job and served what I called "cryogenic cocktails". The first one I made was for a boss who came to a party one evening and asked for a martini. I poured in some nitrogen, blew away the fog and scooped out all the frost-distilled water that was left floating in it, taking the proof of his cocktail up to about 130% abv. He downed it, disappeared and returned with a brace of Swedish researchers. "I want you to make them what you made me," he said. [...]

I wasn't just a detached observer, though; I was as enthusiastic a drinker as most of the patrons. One drawback was the hangovers: after a particularly heavy session, I would have to nip outside to be sick. Any liquid that came into contact with the ice froze immediately and, if left alone, it would remain so for ever. It was a point of honour to clear up after yourself, which meant chipping away with a pickaxe.


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John Farrier: Keep your eyes open for the movie Antarctica: A Year on Ice. It's a New Zealand film by the husband of one of my Antarctic co-workers but should make it to the States. I'm especially excited since most of it was filmed during my time working there, and I have been told it shows the store where I was the sup. Here's the trailer:http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/antarctica-a-year-on-ice-2013
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