It’s the most important innovation to hit the bar since the bottle opener. In fact, you and your staff may use it every day and not realize the full extent of its profit-generating capabilities. It’s the electric blender, a machine that single-handedly revolutionized our business. At one time, the only cocktail options were straight up or on the rocks. That all changed with the advent of the bar blender.
Blended concoctions are about the most advantageous and profitable type of drink you can market. They’re bigger than most drinks and presented with a high-perceived value. The mechanics of preparing frozen drinks allows you a fuller range of fresh ingredient options. As a result, most are bursting with flavor. The specialty glassware in which they’re marketed further enhances their presentation.
Frozen drink specialties are huge moneymakers, typically yielding some of the highest profit margins in the house. They’re also an effective way to turn over your slower-moving cordials and liqueurs. When you consider that they’re usually lower in alcohol than most other types of mixed drinks, you’re left with the unmistakable conclusion that marketing blended drinks is good for business.
The watchword in today’s marketplace is versatility. Executive chefs realize its importance, as do bar chefs. Serving the same tired cuisine or boring lineup of drinks typically results in plenty of open seats and empty bar stools. Technologically advanced blenders — like the Vita-Mix BarBoss Advance, Vita-Mix Quiet One and the Hamilton Beach Glass Jar Blender — provide on-premise operators with nearly unlimited creative potential. They allow you to take advantage of a broad and varied range of ingredients.
Thirst-quenching and profit-laden as blended drinks are, there are those who contend they’re too labor intensive for their own good. These individuals typically are working with outdated, poorly maintained equipment.
Old, underpowered blenders are loud, grating and do a poor job at making drinks. The problem is they’re incapable of crushing ice finely enough to thoroughly homogenize the ingredients. Minutes after serving, the drinks start to separate; the ice rises to the top and the other ingredients sink to the bottom.
The new generation of blenders has made struggling with frozen drinks a thing of the past. They sport several significant design improvements that improve drink quality and increase speed of service.
Equally impressive is the roster of contemporary drink styles in which the blender has become a major player. Here’s a glimpse at some of the hottest — or rather coldest — beverage trends in the country.
• Frozen cappuccinos. Cappuccinos are piping hot and outrageously popular. A few innovative operators took the espresso-and-frothed-milk combination and served it on the rocks. Frozen cappuccinos are sinfully rich and delicious; they’re also excellent vehicles around which to build a noteworthy signature drink. For example, blend a cappuccino with Kahlúa, Chambord and brandy for a Java- and raspberry-flavored specialty. Or blend Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlúa and frothed milk to make a Mudslide Cappuccino.
• Classics revisited. While blended Margaritas, Daiquiris and Piña Coladas grab most of the headlines, many mixologists are blending variations of other well-established specialties. Popular examples include frozen Long Island Iced Teas and blended Amaretto Sours. Two frozen Tiki classics making their way up the charts are the Rum Runner (Amaretto Disaronno, light rum and crème de banana garnished with a whole banana and whipped cream) and the Tropical Hurricane (Bacardi Limón Rum, Midori and cranberry and pineapple juices).
• Swirls. Swirling involves preparing two different drinks simultaneously in two different blenders, and then pouring them together in the same specialty glass. The effect is dramatic and greatly enhances the resulting drink’s presentation. Among the original swirled recipes is the Pain in the Butt, a sensational blend of a Rum Runner and a Strawberry Daiquiri. The key to a great swirl is marrying together two different colored drinks with complementary tastes.
• Adult smoothies. If smoothies can accommodate a variety of nutritious additives, why can’t you doctor them with some dark rum or a bracer of Maker’s Mark? The fact is that smoothies taste sensational with an additional shot or two from the backbar.
A great example of a Happy Hour smoothie is dubbed the Blue Aloha, a tall, frosty concoction prepared with orange vodka, Midori, frozen vanilla yogurt, pineapple juice and blueberries. You can add in some wheat germ and B vitamins if you’re the stickler on nutrition. Another smoothie ready for prime time is the Chocolate Banana Smoothie, a delectable concoction featuring Kahlúa, Mount Gay Extra Old Rum, a ripe banana, chocolate syrup, milk and frozen vanilla yogurt. While drinking the smoothie might not make you healthier, it’ll certainly make you feel better.
The possibilities are nearly endless. And that’s the point. So dust off your backbar bottles and blend up some creative, moneymaking concoctions.
3/4 oz. Jack Daniel’s
3/4 oz. Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur
3/4 oz. Baileys Cream Liqueur
2 oz. freshly brewed espresso coffee
2 large scoops (8 ounces) vanilla ice cream
Caramel and chocolate syrup
Frothed milk and a chocolate biscotti, for garnish
Pour first five ingredients into blender canister; blend thoroughly. Ribbon the inside of a chilled 26-ounce house specialty glass with caramel and chocolate syrup. Spoon on layer of frothed milk; garnish with a chocolate biscotti.
Raspberry Marnier Margarita
1 1/2 oz. Reposado Tequila
3/4 oz. oz. Grand Marnier
3/4 oz. oz. Chambord
1/2 cup raspberries
2 oz. lemon sour mix
Lime wedge, for garnish
Pour first five ingredients into iced blender canister; blend thoroughly with ice. Serve in a 14-ounce chilled cocktail glass rimmed with sugar. Garnish with a lime wedge.
3/4 oz. Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur
3/4 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
3/4 oz. Brandy
2 oz. freshly brewed espresso coffee
2 large scoops (8 ounces) chocolate ice cream
Frothed milk and crumbled fudge brownie, for garnish
Pour first five ingredients into iced blender canister; blend thoroughly. Serve in a chilled 16-ounce house specialty glass. Spoon on layer of frothed milk. Garnish with crumbled fudge brownie.
Death by Chocolate
1 oz. Baileys Irish Cream
1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
3/4 oz. Stolichnaya Vodka
1-2 scoops chocolate ice cream
Whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, for garnish
Pour first four ingredients into iced blender canister; blend thoroughly. Serve in a 16-ounce house specialty glass. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.