1. Five Slushy Cocktails For Summer

    It's finally hot outside. Celebrate with the type of drinks which are perfect for patio season. We are talking frozen drinks of course. Although they were out of style for a while, 'ironic' frozen tiki style drinks are making a come back. The more elaborate and quirky, the better. Here are five of our favorites to wow your customers with during the hot summer months ahead:

    Simple and yummy! And for the Big Lebowski generation - definitely ironic. Combine Milk, Kailua and Vodka with ice. And you're done!

    Margaritas are pretty standard - but spicy margaritas offer a fun twist and are perfect for the summer months! Fresh mango puree, a little bit of chili paste (adjusted to your heat preference), agave syrup, tequila, and ice is all you need for this - plus a nice chili/salt garnish of course.

    Frozen sangria? Yes please. Combining two summer classics is a sure crowd pleaser. Use fruit sorbet, your choice of red wine, and garnish with berries. Simple and fun!

    Frozen Jack Daniels slashes are a fun way to riff off a popular bar drink. Jack Daniels, coke, and ice is all you need. Add a lime garnish if you're feeling fancy.

    Frozen Orange Julio with a twist. Make a more sophisticated version of this classic when you combine Gin, Aperol, Orange Juice, and ice. A little less sweet and a little more complex than your standard daiquiri!
  2. Throw Back Thursday - Antique Ice Machines

    The ice machine has come a long way since its inception in 1880! The first ice maker was produced and patented by in 1844 by John Gorrie as a device to cool down his patients. The first patented ice maker for food was filed by John Gorrie in 1851. Far from the large machines of today, early ice makers relied on relied on a mechanical compressor and, of course, no electricity. Only very small amounts of ice could be created by the earliest machines

    Before the invention of the ice machines, freezing water was harvested from lakes and rivers when available. This meant, of course, that only those living in cold climates would ever have refrigeration, and then only for several short months out of year. Home ice machines did not begin to be popular until the 1920s, when improvement to technology and the advent of electricity in virtually every household allowed this once luxurious item to be readily accessible.

    Ice machines had a style hey day in the 1950s, when post war America focused on the home and domesticity. Housewives would pose proudly before their innovative machines, stuffed with every type of imaginable food as a sign of prosperity. Home refrigerators tended to come in bright sherbet colors and be as sought after as computers and other tech devices are today.

  3. Hot Dessert Trends in 2016

    Sometimes, your customers want something cold and sweet. And when they do, make sure you're giving them cutting edge options - the world has moved on from flourless chocolate cake and creme brûlée. It's totally OK to keep the classics on the menu, but stay on top of these upcoming flavor profiles to give them something that just maybe they haven't seen before:

    1/ Fusion. The 'cronut' may be a bit played out, but at the same time, it's a cool idea that customers will respond to well. Put a cake and a pie together, or a cookie and a brownie. How about an ice cream sandwich with unusual cookie combinations? Don't be afraid to be playful and give your hybrid a fun, quirky name when you have finished your creation.

    2/ Extreme milk shakes. Originally hailing from Australia, an extreme milk shake is an instagram worthy and fun focal point of your dessert list. Throwing giant pieces of candy and other elaborate toppings - even a whole ice cream sandwich! on top of a milkshake is an easy way to jump on this trend - just make sure you have a good blender to handle the demand!

    3/ Spices. Customers are responding well to heavily spiced dessert dishes. Play around with savory spices, such as curry, as well as the traditional classics, such as nutmeg and allspice. It's not just about cinnamon anymore!

    4/ Healthy options. Virtually everyone is body conscious now a days, and some folks may want a sweet bite without the calories and indulgence associated with a traditional dessert. Experiment with agave syrups, coconut milk, and other healthy alternatives to traditional sugar and dairy to create delicious, guilt free options for your customers.

    5/ Nostalgia. If the healthy trend isn't your thing - move int he exact opposite direction and take a trip down memory lane with some deeply classic confections. The classics are classics for a reason. Try making old school pies, cakes, and cookie recipes to remind your customers of their grandmothers' kitchens.
  4. Thinking about opening a food truck? Here's what you need to know?

    So, you have a great restaurant concept, but you want to start a bit smaller than a brick and mortar store. Food trucks have been growing in popularity as more social media savvy consumers utilize Twitter and Facebook to follow their mobile food stations and find gourmet meals at great price points. However, there is still a lot that goes into a food truck operations. Here's what you should know:

    1/ Commissary, commissary, commissary. Even though you may be a mobile operation, you still have to practice strict food safety guidelines when working with the general public. You will need a commercial grade kitchen with current grade health inspections in order to operate your truck. Instead of opening your own, find a local one willing to rent out space. Most commissaries are in large warehouses and will welcome the additional business!

    2/ Equipment, equipment, equipment. Although you can find a decent food truck second hand, make sure your equipment is top of the line. Especially in the summer months - and heat - you'll want an AC system and ice machines that can stand up to a large lunch rush. Your customers - and staff! will thank you for thinking in advance, and by planning early on, you can avoid gaining a bad reputation when faulty equipment breaks in the middle of a busy lunch rush. Equally important: a small heating device, open flame, and dishwasher. Everything must be scaleable and custom, so shop with us and secure the best possible equipment at the best price.

    3/ Location, location, location. Where to go? Where the crowds are is an obvious answer, but there is more to a good location then simple volume. Make sure you have the proper permits and also that you are in an area known for its foodie scene. Food trucks thrive together - but if there's another grilled cheese truck in the park, consider going elsewhere. Fairs, festivals, and even food truck specific events are also great spaces for high traffic and exposure. If your town or city has an arts scene, or a sports stadium, consider looking into permitting to park outside before or after a big event. A large venue will draw in a big crowd!

    4/ Marketing, marketing, marketing. Letting people know WHO you are is important for any restaurant, but letting them know WHERE you are is equally important as a mobile food truck! Keep your customers up to date via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Make sure your social media info is updated regularly and displayed prominently on your truck and marketing paperwork. It can be a fun to be elusive, but it's better to keep folks in the know, and if you develop a fan base, they will find you given the proper tools!
  5. Weird Ice Cream Flavors

    We all know chocolate, strawberry, even blueberry praline has nothing to some of the most "exotic" ice cream flavors on the market. Would you consider serving any of these? Home made ice cream can be a nice draw for the summer, and with the right equipment you can definitely pull it off. But - maybe think twice before making any of the following flavors below:

    1/ Horseradish - what goes better than sweet cream and sugar and spicy, spicy horseradish? Um, lots of stuff, that's what. Not for the faint hearted and perhaps best as a garnish for carpaccio vs a dessert.

    2/ Foie gras- without tasting, we will rate this one as possibly appealing. The rich, creamy texture of foie gras is at least texturally equivalent to the rich, creamy texture of ice cream. We would try this without protesting too much, but it's still a much less safe combination than, say, berries and fruit.

    3/ Creamed cod ice cream - what goes better than fish and dessert? Just about everything. More of a novelty than anything else, this one we are going to label as a miss. Keep moving people.

    4/ White truffle gelato infused with black caviar - odd, and again a bit fishy, but it may be just rich enough, and mild enough to work. if anything, it's a luxury gimmick which will, at very least, get curious folks to try it, even if they don't come back for seconds.

    5/ Whisky and prune - whiskey? Yes. Prune? Oh my. Maybe not. The two together? Perhaps a bit like an old fashioned. This is one of the most popular selling ice creams at its Australian ice cream shop home, so we think it probably tastes pretty good, even if it sounds just a bit unusual.
  6. Brunch - How to Create the Perfect Spread

    It's Mother's Day - the perfect day for brunch. Fun, relaxed, and usually involving an adult beverage (or two!) brunch is a Sunday favorite. Here are some tips on creating the perfect spread:
    For a buffet style brunch: fresh and simple is best! A raw bar, like the one pictured above, is a really lovely touch, but make sure you have the proper ice and refresh the spread often to keep things fresh and cold. Including an assortment of jams, jellies, and spreads to go with your pastries is also a nice touch. Another buffet tip - a Bloody Mary bar is a fun and interactive talking point to anchor your brunch spread!
    For a full menu brunch: a variety of choices is best to please your guests. Choose some sweet, some savory, and some traditional lunch items (sandwiches, cheeseburgers, etc) to make sure everyone can get what they want! Eggs benedict is an easy favorite and can be dressed up with a variety of proteins from ham to duck breast. Don't forget to keep some items vegetarian/gluten free as brunch can be heavy on the carbs and bacon for those with dietary restrictions. And finally, add sides! Fun to share (and an easy upset for the servers) some small, shareable plates such as a grapefruit brûlée or fried brussels sprouts will elevate your brunch game.
    For the drinks: Mimosas are classic, but why stop there? Classic champagne cocktails can be fun and innovative. Bloody marys can be extreme when they are loaded with different ingredients. Particularly for Italian restaurants, don't forget a selection of classic, seasonal bellinis utilizing different fruit purees. Finally, offer some non-alcoholic beverage options: classic cappucinos and fresh pressed juices are easy, classic crowd pleasers.
  7. Raw Bar for the Summer - the Best Oysters for every Taste

    Thinking about installing a raw bar? It's a great, upscale investment that is a visually appealing and appetizing anchor to your restaurant floor.
    Pick an ice machine that will make beautiful, crushed small ice to show off your oysters, and make sure you do your research on types of oysters before you buy - there are plenty to chose from!
    East coast oysters are higher in salinity (brinier) and tend to be larger, with a smoother shell. West coast oysters are smaller, with more jagged edges and a delicate, sweet flavor. No matter the coast, the flavor will depend drastically on the specific area from which the oysters are harvested. Therefore, offer your guests a variety of choices. East or west coast is up to you, but seasonality should come into play - oysters are best in the cooler months. Additionally, if you are based out of Cape Cod, or Washington well - it just makes sense to buy local
    What else do you need to know? Temperature, control, and proper shucking techniques are extraordinarily important. Raw seafood carries the potential for disaster, so make sure to keep your stash of oysters fresh, cool, and climate controlled at all times.
  8. How to Clean your Ice Machine

    Details can make or break your business. Customers want fresh, beautiful product, and cloudy or funky smelly ice cubes certainly won't impress them. You've invested in top of the line ice machines, so keep them running cleanly and beautifully, producing crystal clear ice

    First off, make sure you are cleaning your machines often enough. Your ice itself will be a good indicator when things needs to be taken care of. If it's cloudy, soft, or has any type of a strange aroma or taste, take action immediately! A good rule of thumb is every three months of so, but that depends on your volume so don't ignore the visuals signs and take appropriate action

    Get nickel free ice cleaner and a soft cloth to wipe down your machine

    Step by step, follow the instructions below:

    Turn off the ice maker and make sure it is unplugged.
    Turn off the water supply to the ice machine.
    Empty the machine and throw out all of the ice and water.
    Remove the parts of the machine to be cleaned as per your owner’s manual instructions.
    Using one part ice machine cleaner to three parts water, clean all machine parts thoroughly.
    Rinse parts with clean water.
    Replace the parts and wipe down all surfaces with a soft rag.
    Let the machine air dry.
    Plug the machine in and restart the ice maker.
    Once the first batch of ice is made, discard it.

    It's that easy! Keep your ice fresh and your customers happy. And stay on top of the best equipment as well as the latest trends right here, at Ice Machines Plus.
  9. Protecting your online reputation: what you need to know

    We live in a digital world. Your customers will be posting their pictures and opinions of you on Instagram, Google, Yelp, Facebook, and more! While we hope that everyone is a fan, it's easy to have issues (or unhappy customers) who can hurt your reputation and influence whether future customers frequent you - or your competition.

    Even though it's time consuming and sometimes no fun at all, it's very important to protect your online reputation. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your game:

    1/ DON'T offer free items to make the problem go away. It's easy to respond to a negative review with an offer for a free beverage, meal, heck, anything to make the customer happy. But it's a much better idea to find out WHAT the problem was and try to fix the issue and apologize (if warranted). That way, you are improving the success of your business and guarding against future (false) negative reviews from folks looking for a freebie.

    2/ DON'T ignore negative commentary. Even though it's no fun, it's very important to respond to unhappy customers online. There may be an easy fix to the problem, and even if someone really 'dropped the ball' on food or service, at least by responding you are showing your dedication to the customer and that it's important for them to have a good visit. Avoid long, drawn out public conversations and provide a phone number or email for follow up, and make sure to get to the bottom of their issues whenever possible.

    3/ DO respond to positive commentary. A 5 star review is a wonderful thing to have. Make sure to take a moment to say thank you when someone goes out of their way to say something nice about your business! I simple 'thank you' goes a long way and helps to reinforce the positive relationship.

    4/ DO Know your rights and manage your online presence. If someone is being unnecessarily vulgar, abusive, or even works for your competition and is writing false reviews, you have every right to flag and remove them . Get to know the terms of service for Yelp, Google, and Open Table so that you can flag anything that doesn't belong or is dishonest. It's also important to find out where your customers are talking about you - stay on top of social media trends and monitor your restaurant pages across as many sites as your customers do to ensure that you don't miss the conversation.

    5/ DO encourage people to talk about you! Most of your customers are biggest fans - that's why they are in your restaurant! Engage these people by letting them know your Instagram handle and other social media presences, as well as asking them to review you. By asking for reviews, you'll ensure that the happy people take some time to write about you: unhappy people are more likely to take to the internet if they feel the need to report an issue. And of course, encourage your front of the house staff to ask for feedback often so that any problems can be fixed (hopefully) before they make their way online.

  10. Different Ice Sizes for your Cocktail Needs

    Ice is one of many things in life taken for granted. Yes, there many different forms of ice such as shaved ice, cubed ice, dry ice, and so on but there are many different uses. One of the best way to put your ice to best use is dropping a few cubes inside of your favorite summer cocktail.

    The type of ice used can either make your beverage of choice, a hit-or-miss. Serving the best possible ice possible starts with the quality. Be sure to use high-quality water such as filtered water as opposed to tap water from your home’s facet. Ice cubes made from poor quality ice tend to melt quickly resulting in watered-down drinks.

    If limited dilution is your preference, be sure to use large rock cubes. This is perfect for whiskey lovers. A large, square cube is sure to impress your customers. If you're looking for something with 'wow' factor - try a perfectly spherical cube! These may also contain frozen flowers which look gorgeous in your cocktails and will impress your customers. And if you tend to be on the lighter side, crushed ice is perfect for a Mint Julep or Moscow Mule. Choose your ice wisely and may your summertime margaritas be full of color and flavor! Dry ice is a great addition to evening cocktails with flair.

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