I’m thinking about getting an ice crusher for making tiki cocktails and such. I have been using my Vitamix 5200 blender, which crushes ice kind of unevenly. It also requires water, which makes the resulting crushed ice a little too wet I think even after straining, and the resulting drinks a little too diluted.
I was thinking about getting a vintage manual Ice-O-Mat off eBay, as they seem a bit more durable than current manual ice crushers. Anyone have experience with a vintage Ice-O-Mat or have another recommendation? I’m looking to hopefully not spend more than around $50 or so.
FYI, Oster made a crushed ice attachment for its blenders called the Oster Icer. It fits on the blender base, but it allows cubes to be continuously run, so that the crushed ice drops into your glass or a bowl. There is even a fine-to-coarse adjustment.
I have several vintage hand crank Rival Ice-O-Mats and they are ok, but don’t really get as fine of a crush as I like. I also I have around a half dozen of the electric vintage Rival ice-O-Mats. They look really cool with this art deco thing going on, an asymmetric shape to it that looks a bit like Gumby’s head, and those 50’s colors like avocado, pinky beige, plus black, or white. They only work ok, not great, they melt a lot of the ice and don’t crush consistent, and too large most of the time. I got them for around $10-15 each and give them out as presents to bartender and cocktail enthusiast friends, just for fun, not serious ice crushing.
By the way, the Waring pro ice crusher is terrible, and crazy expensive.
This style below is probably the best. I can’t recommend a brand, but the price is right, and Amazon has their great return policy. I have seen these used in some high capacity tiki and cocktail bars.
Personally, both for at home, and in bars I consult to, I use a Lewis bag and rubber or wood mallet. Wood looks cooler, but rubber mallet works better.
This company has some fantastic bar tools. (Note: I know the companies owner and much of the staff.) This is a good starter set up.
Although I was able to find canvas money bags online and bought a few dozen. With cheaper ones you may have to get the seems sewn with tougher thread. You preferably want the 12"x19". You can get them on ebay or at bank supply stores.
Bank supply, very inexpensive. Don’t know quality but they look good.
Thanks for all the info and recommendations! I looked at the ZENY machine that you linked to and it has good reviews and is relatively inexpensive, but it looks like it makes more finely crushed ice than I would need for tiki drinks? Seems like it might be more for snow cones and the like. If you have seen them in use in tiki bars though maybe I will check it out.
Was looking at the Waring ice crusher as well but as you said its quite expensive (I believe this is due to it being discontinued). I don’t feel too bad about missing out on them now though if they are terrible.
which looks a little similar to the Waring but doesn’t have that many reviews yet.
I ended up just getting a new hand crank ice crusher last week because I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning 50 years of gunk off of it. It works ok for now but sometimes takes some effort.
I may get one of those Lewis bags you mentioned since they are cheap and I have a couple of rubber mallets already in the toolbox. It may take more effort to crush with than even my hand crank device though.
I may order the ZENY or some other brand of this style, just to see how well it works. There are home versions, and pro versions, of ice shavers. The home versions do not get as fine a grind as the pro ones. I have a feeling this one would be fine using home or store ice cubes. If you use blocks (like if you were to use Solo cups to make ice) it would be finer shave. While small cubes a rougher crush.
I would be wary of that Costzon, just because it looks too much like the Waring. Which was a lousy, terrible, machine. I think they are basically the same machine. Almost identical size and weight, and when I bought the Waring it was about the same price as the Costzon is.
Traditionally, in tiki bars most crushed ice in drinks is actually from blending the drink with ice for five seconds in a blender. This breaks it up into small pieces. There are only a few types of drinks that really need pre-crushed ice. Swizzles and juleps. One of my areas of specialization in bar consulting is tiki, and in most of the old recipes the instructions say blend for five seconds. If you look at Beachbum Berry’s books you will see this for the majority of cocktails. Tiki drinks are high volume drinks and needed to not be fussy in the majority, so that you can take your time on the ones that are complex to build.
Otherwise, I really like the Lewis bag. Sure you need a solid counter or floor to whack the bag on, but it lets you go all primeval and let out your emotions, cracking the ice. In a few minutes I can make enough to fill a big bowl, and make tons of juleps and swizzles. And with the bag and mallet I can control exactly how rough or fine the crush is. Large or small pebble ice, down to total snow consistency. And the water is absorbed by the bag, so you get relatively dry ice, not wet like many machines make.