Operation “FRESH Frozen” Cocktails, the formula to better slush behind bars.

Hello all. It has been a while and I thought I would jump back into my 7 day scheduled postings with an amazing task I was recently given…

OPERATION “FRESH FROZEN” COCKTAILS, “The formula to better slush behind bars”. I will divide it into 3 posts to delineate; Analysis, Testing & Results, and, In action Sales!

This opportunity to improve frozen imbibing fell into my lap, born from a great relationship with a local sales and service company.

Here was an opportunity to turn the SLUSHY cocktails, found behind so many chain restaurant bars, into something delicious, something healthier and something that was a more sellable option for staff and managers.

A local restaurant equipment company DSL Food Equipment threw me this task (and curve ball) with a simple question…

Do you think restaurant chains can have a better slush offering (sales) with existing equipment?”

… at first I laughed..but then I got to thinking that something could certainly be done.

As a long time bartender and culinary adventurer, I must admit I have always hated and “hated on” the heavily sweetened, sometimes NEON concoctions, that come out of these churning machines. This was my opportunity to “put up or shut up”.


The task was simple and strategic for DSL: they wanted to help clients sell more frozen cocktails. The cost, consistency and efficiency of these drinks were obvious but the end palate of the product was just sweet and heavy, making them very one dimensional

For myself, the task is a “two-pronged” challenge;

  1. How do we work with existing hardware, labour margins and the speed of making these cocktails while offering something BETTER?
  2. How do we change the marketing piece and “image” of these cocktails as something “FRESH & EXCITING” for consumers and staff?

Seems easy right?

So I started with R&D. I went with DSL representative, Amanda and DRANK them…..I know, this is a tough gig.

We each had an array of the cocktails at a local chain…and it was terrifying what my stomach was doing for the next 8 hours. Time to analyze and hypothesize.

A margarita, huh?


The “Cocktails”

  • These “cocktails” were heavily saturated in “bad SUGARS”. Thus, “bad” for you and offering only a very obvious “sugar buzz” without the desired “alcohol buzz”.
  • Staff and management were generally “disheartened” to “sell” these cocktails table side, causing a dip in consistency.
  • With a 10 year sales trend provided, we could see that the category was declining in sales volume with each passing year, since about 2005.
  • Having a second of the same “cocktail” type was always going to be “too much” for the consumer to handle.
  • Creativity and menu selection is limited to the “NEXT SYRUP” trend and corporate offering.

The Machine

  • Upon close examination, you find that these TAYLOR (most common) machines are rather simple in design and concept.
  • The entire systems “CPU” drives the motor based on the viscosity of the substance inside, holding the desired consistency. The BRIX Measure (the viscosity of a solution) is determined with a refractometer, for those geeks out there.
  • A Brix of 13.5 is ideal for desired results and machine performance.

The Refractometer

  • The liquid in the machine needs to be maintained daily, by draining and sanitizing the machine.
  • The sugar solution (boxed syrups and water) was the main area where you could adjust the “Brix” or viscosity.
  • Maintenance was mainly caused by the internal “blade” that scrapes the ice from the cylinder, when sediment causes “nicks” in the smooth surface.
  • Something aside from sugar had to be used as the “thickener” for the substance to reach the desired 13.5 Brix measure.
  • Removing the heavy “syrups” and adding fresh ingredients would both lighten the solution and add the almighty FLAVOUR that seemed to lack.
  • Staff and Management needed to be “infused” with a new culture for selling better frozen cocktails.
I will bring you through the STEP by STEP testing process that we used to decide the simplest, and most cost-effective recipe and solution.
Here is a little teaser:
My grandmother taught me the recipe…and with this simple solution you can :
Reduce the calories by 30%
Reduce the cost by 80%
and increase the freshness by 100%
Stay Tuned…

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