How to Make Preparing Frozen Drinks Not Suck

Starting a new smoothie and milkshake drink program can seem daunting. You need to find room for inventory storage and new equipment, plus time for staff training. On top of all that, the margin percentages don’t exactly look great at first glance.

Here’s one thing to remember: the margins are lower, but forget those. We don’t deposit percentages and doubts in the bank; we deposit dollars. A well thought out frozen drink program is a perfect way towards raking in those extra dollars during the warmer months.

Follow these few guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to a successful and exciting new addition to your bar or restaurant.

Start Small for Bigger Gains

Restaurants should start small when creating a frozen drink program.

Most restaurants fail by overextending themselves too fast. They add in 10 flavors all at once, meaning they have either too much inventory of a flavor that doesn’t sell well or not enough of what’s hot. Starting too big also means operators miss out of vital opportunities to promote their new program and additional frozen flavors as they are rolled out.

By starting small you can advertise your new frozen drink items, and keep your team and guests excited and talking about new flavors as you release them. This will keep the buzz going around your drink program, help establish your foundational drinks, and keep guests coming back to try your new flavors.

Don’t forget to post these specials on your restaurant’s social media to give your followers a reason to visit you! 

Keep Your Frozen Drink Ingredients, Gear Together

Barbacks and bartenders will be able to produce more tasty frozen drink specials for guests if you have a solid and organized process in place.

Mise en place or “everything in its place” is one of the most valuable lessons anyone ever learns in this world. Unfortunately, most restaurants do not have the space or money to build out their drink station for this. This means the need to utilize several refrigerators scattered around to store a variety of ingredients that are sometimes nowhere near the blender/smoothie machine back behind the bar.

Employees running back and forth for ingredients stored in all different locations can lead to at-work incidents from rushing around on wet floors -- among many other problems. Having to store several ingredients in different locations can waste valuable time in the middle of a busy shift and lead to missed dollars on your end.

All of that running around for ingredients takes time. You could try rearranging your back bar to deal with the issue or look at frozen drink vendors like f’real to simplify the process. They make pre-portioned smoothies and milkshakes in virtually every flavor imaginable and requires no water line, ice or drain. A setup like this means your staff can churn out frozen drinks in under a minute, so they can spend their time elsewhere.

Keep Cleaning & Complexity to a Minimum

Bars & restaurants should keep their frozen drink program setup simple for easy clean-up and simple drink creation.

A lot of complexity and cleaning issues lie in the world of smoothie and milkshake making. You scoop all of the ingredients into the blender, mix it, pour the drink, then have to quickly wash the blender and measuring cups, so your team is ready for the next drink.

Within those seemingly innocuous steps, there lies a world of complexity, mess and time. The spoon to scoop ingredients; getting ice from the ice machine; working, then cleaning the blender; even the ingredients themselves. During a busy shift things can get confusing, messy, chaotic and the likelihood of products being made correctly, quickly and cleanly is at risk.

To begin and end each shift you must inspect each of your tools of the trade. Managers should ensure whomever closed did a thorough job sanitizing everything before the next shifts starts. This can take some time but is absolutely crucial. Multiple blenders and stations to pump out more drinks but it also multiplies your time spent cleaning. During a heavy rush this can truly make or break a barista or bartender.

Having a contained pre-portion drink system and a dedicated blender is a huge step to overcoming cleaning challenges. Take f’real’s blender, for example. Their system takes minimal cleaning after each use and because each drink is blended in its own cup. Your bar team only need to wash one piece per drink, meaning your staff can pump out more drinks faster and ensure your team can give your guests the experience they truly deserve.