You’ve sourced the finest craft beer, local Yarra Valley wines and have an inventive bartender to mix up the best cocktails in the neighbourhood. Throw in a few barstools and you’ve got what you need to open your first bar, right?

Assuming you’ve already invested in other commonsense commercial bar equipment, like dishwashers and refrigerators, you’re missing one crucial component: Ice.

When you forget ice for a party, you can run down to the service station and pick up more. You can’t do that when you have a busy bar full of thirsty patrons. (Well, you can, but it will cost you.)

A much more cost-effective option is to choose the right ice machine from the start. So how do you know which ice machine is best for your bar?

How much ice do I need for my bar?

First, consider how much ice you need. People often underestimate how much ice a bar or restaurant goes through each day. In reality, you need about half a kilogram of ice per person who sits down at your establishment.

So, how many people do you estimate you’ll have through your door in 24 hours? Take that number, multiply it by 0.5, and add an additional 20 per cent buffer. Here’s an example:

       •  You estimate you’ll have about 100 guests over the course of a day

       •  100 x 0.5 = 50

       •  50 + 10 (10 is 20% of 50) = 60

Voila - you will need 60 kilograms of ice on the ready at your bar each day.

What kind of ice do I need?

Not all ice is created equally. There are three kinds of ice commonly available - cubed ice, nugget or "cubelet" ice, and flaked ice. Depending what kind of drinks you’re serving, you may also consider more artisanal styles of ice, like extra-large cubes or even ice balls.

The most common types of ice you'll need for a bar are cubed and cubelet ice - these types are slow-melting, which means you will use less. Cubes are great for just about any drink, and cubelets are ideal for blended drinks.

What kind of ice machine do I need?

Once you understand how much ice you need and the type you’re going to need the most of, you can make an informed decision about what type of ice maker is right for you.

Ice machine manufacturers will indicate how much ice the machine can make in a day - some more than 800 kilograms per day.

In addition to ensuring you have enough, you also need to consider what size and shape ice machine your kitchen or bar will accommodate, as well as the size and shape of your ice storage bin. In the case of a bar, where you’ll be serving and storing large quantities of ice, you may even consider building your serving counter around the storage compartment, so your staff can easily make drinks.

As with other pieces of commercial kitchen equipment, it’s important to measure your space and consider the layout. From there, we can help you determine the best make and model for utmost success at your new bar.