They are the vital but often forgotten area of a back-bar and enable licensees to create the perfect chilled serve even at peak periods.
Suppliers, however, say ice machines and refrigerators must meet the needs of a venue to have the maximum impact on bar sales.
Simon Aspin, commercial director of Hubbard Systems, which distributes the Scotsman ice machine range, said: “Certain drinks, especially some cocktails, will require more ice than others. So if planning to push an ice-hungry cocktail make sure you have considered if your ice supply will keep up with demand.
“Before purchasing your ice machine consult with your supplier, explain what your peak demand will be so that they can factor this into your machine choice.”
A fresh supply of ice can also improve the overall appearance of a drink, give premium appeal and increase bar sales, explained Bob Wood, director of DC Warewashing & Icemaking Systems. He said: “It goes without saying that a well presented drink has greater appeal and value than a poorly presented drink, so having ice on demand and offering a good selection of different ice types increases the appeal which will therefore help increase your sales.”
The location of an ice machine is key to ensuring a steady supply of ice, according to Mark Hogan, marketing and sales manager at Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM).
“They need to be reliable and conveniently situated to ensure drinks can be served with mountains of ice even when there’s a rush at the bar,” said Hogan.
“If space is an issue, look for front venting ice machines as these will require little or no top or side clearance and can be quickly and easily installed. This means they can be slid into the tightest spaces and set to work pretty much right away.”
Keeping equipment clean is another important factor in making sure it is able to perform at its best.
Glen Roberts, managing director of Gram UK, recommended deep cleaning machines at least once a week.
“A weekly deep clean of all equipment is a good way to ensure all products remain hygienic, allowing staff to check the condition of the equipment and record any maintenance required,” he said. “These basic measures will ensure the units will run far more efficiently and ultimately increase the longevity of the equipment.”
And licensees were warned against scrimping on regular maintenance of the unit.
Bob Wood at DC Warewashing & Icemaking Systems said: “When it comes to cleaning an ice machine, regular servicing of the machine is essential in hard water areas where scale can build up and become a possible food source for bacteria.
“Servicing your ice machine and following the machine’s cleaning instructions will also ensure it works more efficiently and economically. Like anything if you look after it, it will in turn look after you.”
Ice machines obviously aren’t the only option for licensees looking to keep drinks cool.
With bottled beers and wines a vital part of the offer in licensed premises, it’s crucial operators have the best, most energy efficient refrigerators in place, said suppliers.
“As refrigeration is running 24/7, look for energy saving features,” said Malcolm Harling, sales and marketing director at Williams Refrigeration.
“However, there’s no point in buying a model that uses less energy but can’t keep the ingredients at the right temperature. So ask the supplier to confirm performance levels.”
Investing in a commercial fridge which will withstand constant use is essential, said Harling.
“Domestic refrigeration is designed for domestic use,” he said.
“It is not built to withstand the pressures of a busy commercial operation. For example, the doors are opened much more often on a fridge in a commercial setting.”
And, as with ice machines, regular maintenance is vital, said Mike Simmons, national sales manager, Hoshizaki UK.
He said: “Keep regular checks to make sure the machine is in good condition – especially the door, as broken or loose fitting doors are one of the most common faults to occur.”