Nation’s Restaurant News: Perfect summer drinks start with the right ice

NRN_june Nation’s Restaurant News: Perfect summer drinks start with the right ice

Tips to match the correct type of ice to your summer beverage mix.

The following is excerpts from the Nation’s Restaurant News article

…The challenge for operators is to accept that no single type of ice fits every application, and since having more than one type of ice maker in house is usually cost prohibitive, achieving a balance with the best ice possible becomes the goal.

The strategy for choosing the right ice maker starts not with the machine but with the beverage menu. A quick-service operation’s needs are significantly different from a fine-dining restaurant or a craft cocktail bar, meaning all require unique machinery. Fountain drinks sold at a drive-thru window must be icy cold when customers receive them, not to mention easily sipped through a straw. Smaller, softer ice cubes or pellets work best here. But when bar patrons want a pricey spirit served chilled yet not diluted, much larger cubes — even hand-cut spheres and squares — are best for the task.

“Ice is such a crucial ingredient in a great drink, yet I think it gets overlooked way more than people think,” says Ori Geshury, director of education at the Aqua Vitae Institute in Philadelphia. The self-dubbed “ice nerd” advises operators to take their time choosing the right machine. “It’s an investment in the performance of a machine that works all day, and it’s an investment in your beverages.”

Hoshizaki, for example describes four types of beverage ice its machines produce this way:

  • Crescent cubes — which provide high surface area for rapid chilling and low dilution; ideal for sipped beverages like tea, fruit juices and iced coffees.
  • Square cube — which provide high mass and chills effectively while diluting slowly; good for spirits served on the rocks and shaken cocktails as well as frozen drinks and smoothies.
  • Cubelet a.k.a. “pellet ice” — which provides rapid chilling and fairly quick dilution; ideal for fountain drinks that will be drunk quickly through a straw.
  • Top hat cube — which provides high surface area and rapid chilling with low dilution; ideal for long sipped alcoholic beverages and punches.

Geshury advises operators to research and test their beverage menus thoroughly before shopping for ice machines. That way operators know their desired outcome and can better “think and taste through” experiments using a wide range of ice.

“Chefs don’t just buy any old oven or grill or refrigerator,” says Larry Rice, operating partner for El Camino in Louisville. The Louisville, Ky., tequila- and rum-heavy craft cocktail bar and taqueria has seven types of ice on hand for cocktails and shared tiki punches. “Machine reliability is huge, too,” he says. “Even the best drink program is worthless if your ice machine is down on a Saturday night.”

To read the full article:

50015-IceMakerCalculator-horizontal Nation’s Restaurant News: Perfect summer drinks start with the right ice