Mix Mash Juice and Blend

frozen-margarita.jpgHow To: Mix, Mash, Juice, and Blend
By Laura Leigh Semon

The right equipment for making blended frozen drinks and juice cocktails can speed up your bar service and bring in more money.

Daiquiri Deck in Siesta Key, Florida is known for its seemingly endless combination of frozen concoctions. The staff uses commercial-grade Sorbeteer brand machines, which retail at upwards of $2,500, but make business a snap, says Chelsea, a Daiquiri Deck employee and Electric Lemonade expert. “We pre-mix the vodka, the Sprite® and other ingredients, and they freeze in the machine, then we add more alcohol on top!” There are approximately 15 machines at the bar, as well as a double machine, serving some 40 combinations of frozen drinks on the menu.

These machines make bartending for a crowd of thirsty beach bums a simpler task, cutting down prep time and getting those frozen treats on the bar in seconds. The frozen margarita is in your hands at the press of a button, while the rocks version has staff stuck pouring ingredients and shaking things up. And when you’ve got a crowd or a table looking for six margaritas, that’s a lot of prep time you just don’t have.

Tucker G., of Waring Commercial Products, provided some insight into the wide world of blending. The Waring line ranges from a blender with ½ horsepower, all the way up to 3 ½ horsepower, which is something like having a lawnmower engine blending your drinks. The more powerful blenders have gained in popularity as of late, due to the high-demand for smoothie-type drinks.

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Click here to get some tasty frozen cocktail recipes on our Mixology Page!

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“Along with Blendtec® and Vita-Mix®, two of our biggest competitors, we hold the market on these heavy-duty high-power blenders, which can blend upwards of 100-150 drinks daily,” says Tucker. “Any serious bartender is going to have one of these on their bar.

“The variable speeds option allows you to control the consistency of whatever you’re making, letting the bartender decide if the cocktail needs to be slushier or smoother. Variable speed blenders are also a big deal in kitchens, now that blenders are being used more frequently in the back of the house to make soups, sauces and salsas, for instance. You pay a little extra for this feature, but you’re getting multiple uses out of the machine.”

The experts at Cooking.com advise these rules when looking for high-caliber blenders: Glass lets you see what you’re working with, but stainless steel never breaks; and while plastic won’t shatter, over time it will scratch and need frequent replacing. The site also recommends a wattage of at least 350, and a blender jar that opens at the bottom as well as the top.

A fellow bartender at Dos Caminos in New York City agrees that frozen drinks are usually cheaper than other cocktails. This isn’t necessarily because they have less alcohol or cheaper ingredients, he says, but because of the manpower. “You can deliver five frozen margaritas in the time it would have taken you to make one of our signature cocktails that requires muddling berries, for instance.”

Tucker, over at Waring, went into further detail about the possibility of flavor profiles. Waring’s top of the line unit is a reprogrammable beverage station with different numbers on the blender that can each be programmed to a different cycle. “For instance, maybe you’ve programmed number one to make the perfect margarita,” he says. “Maybe it’s ten seconds on high speed then five on low. Then the perfect daiquiri can be programmed to button two. You can combine all of your ingredients, hit the number and walk away. As far as features, that’s as high tech as it gets.”

It seems that any venue that wants to get competitive with their cocktail menu will have to have at least one of these bad boys on their bar. Every good bartender knows we’ve gotta keep drawing those crowds, and that it’s always better to stand out than to blend in.

Click here to read the full article,
“How To: Mix, Mash, Juice, and Blend”
in the February 2010 issue of Br Business Magazine