Breaking Down Ice for Drinks, One Beverage at a Time

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Ice for Drinks

One of the most frequent questions we’re asked by companies looking for a commercial ice machine is “how much ice do I need for drinks for my restaurant or bar?”

There are many variables to consider to best factor your restaurant or bar’s ice needs. How large is your establishment? How many customers come through the door in a typical week? Do your ice needs include bar use and back of house/kitchen use? We’ve put together a catch-all ice needs estimator, with the general rule of thumb being 3 lbs. of ice per customer. Now let’s get a little deeper by looking at ice needs by drink type.

The Amount of Ice for Drinks

When determining how much ice for drinks you need, the type of beverage or cocktail plays a big role. The size and style of glassware you use also plays a role. Many bars and restaurants are using 8-10 different styles of glassware.

Do you sell more iced tea and soft drinks than spirits? Do you use ice in buckets to cool down beer? Are your cocktail sales higher for classics, blended or shaken? Taking these factors into consideration, you’ll get a better idea of your ice needs, amounts and types of ice you should be using in your restaurant or bar.

Let’s begin breaking ice needs down one drink at a time, by amount and type:

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Ice Needs By Beverage and Glassware Type

Beverage TypeLbs of Ice NeededRecommended Ice Cube Type
Water and Tea1/4 lbCrescent Cube
Cocktails in Rocks Glasses1/4 lbCrescent Cube
Classic Cocktails in Rocks Glasses1/4 lbSquare Cube
Soda1/3 lbCrescent Cube
Highball Glasses1/2 lbCrescent or Square Cube
Shaken Cocktails3/4 lbCrescent Cube
Blended/Frozen Cocktails1/2 lbNugget Ice
Bucket of Beer5-7 lbsCrescent Cube

Note: These are our best approximations and may differ depending on your glassware.

Once you’ve calculated your general ice needs, be sure to add another 25% for mistakes or other uses. Does your kitchen have ice needs too? In a restaurant, your chef may go through 100 lbs. of ice per day for chilling and cooling products down. So, when you think about your overall ice needs at your restaurant or bar, be sure to consider these additional uses.

The Best Types of Ice for Drinks

The types of ice for drinks available on the market are not just there from personal preference. In fact, the shape of an ice cube can help hold the flavor of drinks or save you money on spilled product.

For example, crescent ice has a rounded shape designed to allow liquid to cascade gently into glassware. This limits splash backs that cause spirits to bounce out of glassware and onto your bar top. These ice cubes are also narrow, which makes drinks appear fuller and more appealing to customers.

Square ice or Dice ice are some of the best types of ice cubes for bars and cocktail lounges. Square ice cube makers are a popular choice because they create ice that elevates the look of classic cocktails. Best yet, these cubes are large, so ice melts slower and helps retain the flavor of drinks by not watering them down. There are some great undercounter ice makers for bars and restaurants that produce these types of cubes.

We believe a nugget ice maker produces the best ice for drinks that require blending because it makes softer ice. Softer ice will help the longevity and performance of your blenders. Plus, nugget ice easily creates the “slush” we all desire in blended cocktails and beverages.

Choosing the Best Ice Machine for Your Bar or Restaurant

Choosing the right size ice machine  you need for your business can be daunting. Do you need a large ice maker or a small commercial ice machine?  Luckily, our Ice Machine Experts are here to help you determine the best type of ice machine for your business.

Our ice machine subscriptions are better than an ice machine lease. Our simple Upsizing Program allows your ice production to grow as your business grows. (Note: Subscribers can upsize once per year if needed. This program does not include downsizing ice making equipment.)

We hope this article better clarifies how much ice your business needs and the best ice cubes for your restaurant or bar. For more information, see our Bar and Restaurant Ice Machine Guide.

Our team is available to help you get started today!
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