Why do they make ice with holes at restaurants?
The scoop on hollow ice
Before we go any further, let’s get some definitions cleared up. Hollow ice goes by lots of different names. Bullet ice, gourmet ice, cylinder ice, circle ice, they’re all the same idea: cylinders of ice with hollow (or partially hollow) centers.
Hollow ice also describes a malformed ice cube that has an unintentional empty space in the center. This is usually caused by low water pressure to the ice machine, which leads to uneven water distribution as the ice cube forms. That isn’t the kind of ice we’re talking about here.
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Unlike the accidental hollow ice, the ice you’re served in restaurants is designed to have a hole running through it, and the shape serves a distinct purpose.
Advantages of cylinder ice
Deep in the heart of a commercial ice machine, cylinder ice is formed around a series of small metal rods. When the ice has hardened, the rods stop freezing just long enough for the ice to slide off and into the harvester. Voila! You’ve got beautiful miniature ice tunnels ready to scoop into soda, coffee, or water.
Related: Ask The Experts: How Long Does It Take For Ice Cubes To Freeze In An Ice Machine?
This process is super efficient and quick to produce. Because the ice isn’t frozen all the way through, it reaches a solid freeze faster. Thanks, science!
A quick cool
Cylinder ice cools your drink super fast. The ice tunnel exposes liquid to more surface area, causing your drink to cool faster. Cylinder ice also melts pretty quickly, which is actually a good thing because that means the ice is doing its job.
Side note: this is one reason why your in-flight drink is served with cylinder ice. The holes in the ice mean less density (read: lightweight, which is important on an airplane), and more efficiency. Plus, quick-melting ice means there’s usually very little ice left when the flight attendant collects your trash, meaning easier cleanup.
The hole-y grail of restaurant ice
Restaurants frequently use cylinder ice due to the many advantages we already listed. It’s efficient and quick to produce. Another advantage is that you can fit more liquid in a glass filled with cylinder ice than a glass filled with dense ice cubes. With more drink in your glass and less ice, restaurant staff refill your drink less frequently, which saves them time.
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This is also why most alcoholic beverages are not served with cylinder ice. Since alcohol is more expensive than tea, soda, or water, bars prefer different ice types. It’s not just about saving money, though. The bartender has your best interest in mind, too. Remember that cylinder ice melts really quickly which, if served in your drink, leaves you with a watered down cocktail. Yeah, that’s not our thing either.
What to know before you get your drink on
As you can tell, there’s a lot of decision-making and research involved in the ice that goes in a drink. If you’re a restaurant or bar owner, your work is cut out for you.
Not only does the type of ice you serve need to reflect your brand and atmosphere, it also needs to fit the requirements of the types of drinks you serve. Choosing the wrong ice can lead to poor customer experiences, and wasted money.
Stay in the know with Memphis Ice!
So before you buy a commercial ice machine, do your research. Or better yet, give us a call and we’ll put our 40+ years of experience at your disposal. Our team of experts can highlight the best ice machine for your business, and explain why it’s a good choice.
If you’re not ready to commit to purchasing an ice machine, you can always rent. We have low monthly payments, and renting is a great way to ensure you’ve got the ice machine you really want. At Memphis Ice, we go the extra mile to take care of you so you can take care of your customers. Schedule a call with an ice expert today!
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