Any bar that has not invested in a decent ice machine is playing a risky game. Ice is essential to any hospitality establishment – it is estimated that the average bar will go through around 200kg of ice on a busy day. Ice-makers aren’t cheap, however, so take the time to ensure that what you are purchasing is the right piece of equipment for the venue.

There are three main types of ice – cubes, flakes and nuggets. Cubes make drinks visually appealing (good for cocktails) and keep them cold for longer. Flaked ice is good for venues with a buffet as it looks good in displays, as well as in drinks. Nugget ice is soft and chewable and is suitable for smoothies, carbonated drinks and cocktails – it also displaces more liquid, which results in greater beverage profits.

Once you have calculated how much ice you use on an average day, you’ll have an idea of what machine is right for you, but don’t forget to factor in a bit more for growth and busy times. While the cost of an ice machine may seem prohibitive and unnecessary at first, they are actually quite reasonably priced considering the importance of the machine to any hospitality operation and the amount of time they will last.

When dealing with ice, remember:

- Do not allow staff to touch ice with their bare hands.

- Provide ice tongs in every bucket so that customers do not have to touch the ice.

- Once ice has melted, do not re-freeze it.

- Do not use glass as an ice scoop – if it chips it will be hard for anyone to distinguish between ice and broken glass.

- Ensure that any equipment being used in the ice is appropriately cleaned and sanitised.