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Insight for Bars

The impact of ice

In the bar industry, ice is essential. It’s used to mix cocktails, chill champagne and keep white wine cool. Along with refreshing customers’ drinks, ice is crucial for keeping perishable products fresh and flavorful.

When making decisions about ice machines for a bar, operators should keep the following things in mind:


No matter where they’re located, ice machines have their place in every bar. Some ice machines are placed in the back of the house, and others are located underneath the bar for optimal efficiency.

For bars that serve everything from coffee to cocktails, an undercounter ice machine that produces clear, slow-melting cubes is the perfect fit. For a popular bar located in a downtown area, a modular machine with a large bin will provide the ice needed throughout the day.

Bartender and star of the hit television show "Bar Rescue," Russell Davis understands the significance of ice in a bar, as he works with it daily to shake up one-of-a-kind cocktails.

A bar wouldn’t be a bar without ice, Davis says. He also understands the importance of an ice machine’s location.

"Whenever I set up bars, the first thing we try to decide is where the ice machines are going to go. It's crucially important," Davis says. "The ice machines are the first pieces of equipment that I place."

Russell Davis
from "Bar Rescue"


Davis believes that having ice exactly when it’s needed is just as important as the beverage itself.

It's an ingredient that’s going into my drink. So, get it to me when I need it, Davis says. “And in a high-volume situation, I’m not waiting on the ice.”

Since bars vary in size and require different amounts of ice, reliability is a key factor to consider in a machine. Bars are also prone to peak times, so they need ice machines that consistently produce clear, fresh ice exactly when it’s needed. When browsing, owners should look for advanced features like bin level controls. This technology ensures that ice is being used when it’s at its freshest point and minimal ice is wasted, cutting down on energy costs.


When bar owners are selecting new ice machines or replacing existing ones, they should look at the machine’s overall efficiency. What are its cleaning capabilities? Is it energy efficient? What does routine service look like?

Another way to determine efficiency is to see if a machine is ENERGY STAR qualified. According to the organization, ENERGY STAR products are independently certified to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. Additionally, Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) has energy standards for ice machines to encourage increased use of efficient goods in the market. By choosing a machine with reduced energy and water usage, operators can lower their total cost of operation and save money on a consistent basis. Along with the overall efficiency of the product, bar owners should consider the rate at which ice is produced, the dependability of the machine and the quality of the ice.

Davis looks for several things when it comes to efficient ice that pleases customers: “Consistency, speed and pureness. The ice we put in each cocktail is specific for it. And at the end of the day… the ice adds to every component.”


No one is ever going to compliment you on your ice. But they are going to tell you when it’s bad, Davis says.

In the bar industry, keeping customers happy is essential. When guests love the food and drinks they order, they’re more likely to return in the future. Because of that, ice is absolutely crucial to the customer’s experience at any bar.

According to Davis, if the ice is effectively serving its purpose, “The customer should never know about the experience that they’re having. They should just experience it.”

While bar owners are always thinking about getting their customers the cleanest, purest, coldest ice, it should not be on customers’ minds.

As they choose new ice machines, operators should look for clean ice, high production speed and consistency. That way, customers consistently get cold, fresh ice when they order their beverages—and they’re more likely to return in the future.

From champagne buckets to cocktails, ice is fundamental in the bar industry. Operators should carefully consider location, volume, efficiency and the customer as they choose the right machine. That way, they can feel confident that they’re getting the ice they need for the facility—and their customers—while staying focused on running their businesses.


For more than 50 years, we’ve developed reliable, cost-saving equipment for a full spectrum of commercial and noncommercial facilities—and our commitment to technology, customer support and growing your business only continues to flourish. Our passionate, goal-oriented team focuses solely on ice and is fully dedicated to giving you exactly what your operation needs. It’s ice on a whole new level—and it’s how Scotsman is helping today’s operations do more.