We all know that ice making machines are at full stretch over the summer months, and the summer of 2013 definitely tested caterers to the limit; but demand can be just as high in late autumn and winter as hotels and restaurants play host to countless Christmas and New Year parties. To cater for demand, many hostelries take bookings for parties to take place as early as November and some carry on well into January. While mulled wine may feature in some of these festivities, the greatest demand will be for cold drinks – requiring a combination of commercial refrigerators and ice making machines. A shortage of ice will dampen most party spirits, and could even mean a loss of repeat bookings for next year.
So let's take a look at where ice and refrigeration is most needed over the party season...
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Cocktails – This is the time of year when people are mostly likely to let their hair down and order a cocktail or two, especially as a pre-dinner drink. And the vast majority of popular cocktails involve the use of ice, either as part of the making process (e.g. a Cosmopolitan is shaken together with ice), or as an integral part of the drink (e.g. slushy Margaritas). Cocktails take some time to prepare compared to other drinks, so any waiting around for more ice to be made can result in unacceptable waits for customers. If you are planning to serve cocktails, you need copious quantities of ice on hand, either by using a super fast vertical plate cuber, or by making ice in advance and storing it in handy ice cube storage bins. You may also need access to specialist ice makers, such as flake ice making machines, which produces smaller pieces of ice that is suitable for putting into blenders.
Wine – Still white wine, if pre-chilled in suitable commercial refrigerators, may be acceptable to serve as it is - directly onto guests' tables, or perhaps placed in a wine cooler. But with large parties it is all too easy to run out of pre-chilled stock, resulting in a need to quickly chill down bottles prior to serving. Access to plenty of stored ice and a good number of wine buckets can quickly avert this problem. Sparkling wine and champagne are traditionally served colder than still wine, and so require wine buckets with plenty of ice to keep them cold at the table. A single wine bucket can require a couple of litres of ice cubes to ensure thorough chilling, so fast ice production combined with large storage capacity is essential.
Bottled Drinks – A bottle of lager or ready-to-drink alcopop is a popular alternative to wine for many partygoers. Although few people want to put ice directly into such drinks, often drinking them straight out of the bottle, they nevertheless expect them to be very well chilled. Large glass door refrigerators can go a long way to meet demand here, but a festive alternative is to present bottles in large troughs of ice. As well as looking attractive, this chills the bottles quickly and allows guests to help themselves, taking the pressure off bar staff; but it does require large quantities of ice, for initial presentation and to keep the trough topped up over the course of an evening or even into the early hours.
Non-Alcoholic Drinks – There will typically be a significant number of designated drivers in any Christmas or New Year party – and providing these guests with suitably iced refreshment is just as important as catering for the drinkers. Still or sparkling water, soda water, cola, ginger ale or tonic, will all feel that more festive if served chilled with plenty of ice and perhaps a slice of lemon, than at room temperature. And if you are serving non-alcoholic wine or beer, it's important to serve these chilled, just as you would their alcoholic versions.
Seasonal Liqueurs – A liqueur, or perhaps a cognac, is a perfect way to end a festive meal, and the modern trend is to serve many after dinner drinks over ice. In fact, may well known brands of liqueur feature ice in their advertising, such as certain coffee flavoured or whiskey and cream based products; so your guests are very likely to request ice as part of their order. If you've already used up large quantities of ice serving cocktails and wine earlier in the proceedings, you don't want to have to disappoint your customers with a lack of ice just as they are finishing their evening.
Porkka's range of commercial ice makers ensures that bars and restaurants of all sizes can easily cater for demand at peak times – from small ice making machines designed to sit on a countertop and able to produce up to 12,000 cubes per day, to large floor standing machines which can make nearly 33,000 cubes per day.
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