Blenders are important for many bar operations. For bars serving daiquiris, frozen margaritas or other such frozen drinks, a blender is an essential piece of equipment. Not all blenders are designed for bar use, however, and bar managers should be sure to choose a blender that will work well in their space and with their menu items. Choosing the right blender involves looking at features like blender jar capacity, material and power.
Choose the Right Capacity
Choosing the right size blender means determining how many ounces the blender jar, or blender cup, will hold. Consider what you will be blending, and how much of it. Bars that sell a lot of frozen margaritas, daiquiris or other blended cocktails will require a blender to get the job done. If frozen drinks are an especially popular item at your bar, a bigger blender jar is a must for filling multiple orders at once. Generally speaking, you should not fill the blender more than three-quarters full, to reduce the chances of splattering liquids.
Consider the serving sizes of your drinks. Many restaurants and bars put the sizes of their drinks on the menu. For instance, your menu may advertise a 20 oz margarita. If this is the case, it would be prudent to consider purchasing a 48 oz blender so that you have plenty of space to make more then one of these margaritas at once. The right sized blender container reduces the time and labor needed to fulfill an order of more than one frozen drink.
Choose the Right Container Material
Blender containers—also known as blender jars or blender cups—are often the most important buying consideration for people looking for a good bar blender. Commercial blender containers typically come in three varieties: glass, plastic and stainless steel. Each has its advantages as well as its downfalls.
In order to decide what material type is best for your operation, consider your bar situation. If guests tend to sit around the bar to order their frozen drinks, it might be preferable to select a glass or plastic container to showcase the drink as it is blended. On the other hand, a stainless steel blender might better accentuate a modern, sleek bar with metal fixtures. If you prefer the most durable blender jar material, a stainless steel blender cup might be the best bet. Consider these factors as you look into the pros and cons of each material type.
Understand the Blender Base
The blender bases themselves are often forgotten. Blender bases are often referred to simply as “motor housings,” which is in fact their primary function. However, blender bases also provide sturdy foundations for the blender, as well as a control panel where the power switch and any other button is located. The blender base should weigh about five pounds to provide a sufficient foundation for the blender, especially light plastic blender containers. Although not the most important part of the purchasing decision, differences in blender bases can affect the look and even maintenance requirements for the blender machine as a whole.
- Chrome base. Blenders with a chrome base may be attractive, but it takes work to keep that chrome looking shiny and new. If you choose a blender with a chrome base, be prepared to wipe it down constantly with a streak-free cleaner.
- Stainless steel base. Stainless steel blender bases are attractive and professional, as long as they are clean. Brushed stainless steel is a good option since fingerprints and drips are harder to see. However, stainless steel will rust over time if scratched or cleaned with bleach.
- Plastic base. Plastic blender bases can be black or other colors depending on the manufacturer’s design. Plastic is usually durable and easy to clean, but looks less professional than chrome or stainless steel.
Choose the Right Power
The most important way to tell how much power a commercial bar blender has is by its wattage or horsepower (HP), although HP is more common and simpler to identify. For comparison, one unit of HP is equal to over 745 watts, according to U.S. units of measure. Just as a car or truck is more powerful when it has more HP, blenders with more HP have more power to handle tougher blending jobs, such as thick drinks or drinks involving frozen fruit or other solid ingredients. Take a look at your drink menu and figure out what types of ingredients you will be blending the most. Thicker drinks require the most power to chop and puree, while thinner blended drinks do not need quite as much oomph. For the bar, chances are that most drinks will contain drink mix, alcohol and ice.
Blenders have a wide range of possible HP specifications, from 3/8 to 3 ¾ HP. Bar blenders are typically designed with between 1 and 2 HP. This provides the blender with sufficient power and torque to chop ice cubes and drink mix into a uniform frozen drink. A bar that needs a blender to mix solid or thick ingredients, like frozen fruit, may require a blender with 2 HP or higher in order to avoid overheating the blender.
Choose Speed and Programmability Options
In addition to horsepower, speed and programmability are important features to many restaurant operators. This has to do with how fast the blender blends as well as what settings are available.
- Speeds. Most bar blenders have an “On/Off” switch if nothing else. Some have a “High/Low” switch in addition to this, which is usually known as a two-speed blender. Others still have a “Pulse” option, which a bartender can hold down or pulse on and off as needed. Usually these options are all the bartender needs. A frozen drink takes only a few seconds to make in the blender, so the bartender will likely be working near the blender station keeping an eye on the blender when it is turned on.
- Programmability. Some of the more technologically-advanced bar blender models have programming options, in which the user can program certain blender speeds and times associated with different buttons. Bartenders may find it useful to use programmed speeds and times for different drinks. In the case that a drink needs 20 to 30 seconds to blend, having a timed program that stops automatically can allow the bartender to step away and prepare the glass for the drink, allowing him or her to pour the drink immediately after it is done blending. Most bar blenders are not this advanced, although some are equipped with manual timers with automatic shut-off options for increased convenience.
In general, blended drinks are just one piece of the bar’s overall beverage menu; bartenders use the blender occasionally, but probably not constantly. Choose a blender with a “High/Low” speed option if some of your blended drinks are thicker or require a little more blending speed than others. Otherwise, the “On/Off” option is sufficient for most bars. Additionally, most bar-specific blenders are not designed to be programmable, and most operations do not require this feature. For another convenient option, select a bar blender with a manual timer and automatic shut-off capability.
Commercial Bar Blender Buying Chart
The following chart breaks down some of the most popular bar blenders based on blender capacity as well as horsepower. In the chart, lower horsepower blenders are indicated by the term "light duty," while blenders with higher horsepower are "heavy duty." Use this basic guide to get an understanding for what commercial bar blender might be right for your bar application.
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