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Time for a quality blender, anyone have recommendation? I know I can spend upwards of $500, but does that make sense when the drink volume at my house doesn't really require a commercial blender?

Does anyone own a Breville Ikon Die-Cast Stainless Steel 750 watt blender? I was looking at one at Bed, Bath and Beyond. $199, then take off 20% with one of their frequent coupons, so it's $160.

[ Edited by: Bongo Bungalow 2008-01-15 12:37 ]

Not familiar with the Breville, but my Osterizer has served me well for many years--just the basic pushbutton model. Haven't burnt it out yet!
Check out these past threads for some more recs:
Crucial Blender Assistance/Advice Desired!
Island Oasis Machine
Anyone have a margaritaville machine??

Dreem, I swear I searched "blender" and got nothing. Thanks for your comment.

RR

Try http://www.willitblend.com from Blendtec blenders.

On 2008-01-15 13:04, Rob Roy wrote:
Try http://www.willitblend.com from Blendtec blenders.

Wow! 1500 watts of blending fun!

Tiki snob alert! Assuming you are intending it for Polynesian mixology, here I go:

Classic Polynesian bars used mostly top MIXERS, which create a different drink texture than BLENDERS, which did not come into use until blended cocktails like the Margarita took over from the Mai Tai. They usually were made by Hamilton Beach, which has reissued their classic design, albeit in lighter metal than those old die hard cast iron mixers:

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-01-15 14:00 ]

It sounds like you need something to handle your basic drink making tasks along with the basic kitchen needs. I offer the following advice....

1 - Set your budget first. A Blendtek will turn marbles to dust and an iphone to chips in no time, but do you really plan on making drinks out of marbles? (great videos, and the website is so much fun!)

2 - get the highest watt motor in your price range.

3 - try and get a metal container instead of glass. It may be a bit louder, but will survive way more drops behind the bar than glass.

4 - look for the prettiest one.

Unless, of course, your blender is going to live on the counter, then move the pretties one to number two on that list.

I have a Westbend that I got at Target for about $50 that I am really happy with. And the Oster I had before that (12 years) was great too.

I too have been using my Osterizer "Classic" for over ten years now. It only has a simple up/down switch for high and low and a heavy glass pitcher. As long as you start off with crushed ice, it can handle "frozen" drinks with ease but will leave lumps of ice is you use whole cubes.
I've had it so long, I can't even remember what it origonally cost, but I think it was just over $100.00.
I'm fortunate that I've not dropped the pitcher - I agree with C&A that metal or thick plastic would be better.

Going off Hangman's post, I'll bring up something I posted about a while back.

I'm a young guy in an apartment with a freezer that makes decent ice cubes. How the heck can I make blended drinks if one can't do it with whole ice cubes? Pounding cubes in a bag isn't really an option: no matter what surface I do it on, anybody within a 2 room radius can hear it.

I'm not really trying to pull the thread off-topic. To push the thread onward, I'll ask: Is there a blender that can make drinks of homogenous consistency using ice cubes?

DJHShirt makes a good point, 'cause if the blender or mixer can handle ice cubes-- all the better.

BBro offers the classic Hamilton and it sure looks cool, and makes the drink right-- but to make the drink right I need crushed ice... so something to crush ice and the Hamilton mixer? Mmmm... gonna have to looks those up.

Vitamix is an awesome blender

And it can do crushed/shaved ice in a pinch

According to Consumer Reports, the Vita-mix 5000 is the #1 blender -- with an overall rating of 85. It got excellent on all but 2 things: convenience (ease of cleaning/changing blades) and noise. But it's $400.

The CR Best Buy was the Braun PowerMax MX2050 -- got a rating of 72 (very good instead of excellent pretty much across the board) but it only costs $50. AND it has a glass jar instead of a plastic jar like the Vita-mix. AND AND, it has a removable blade (easier to clean) which the Vita-mix does not.

You could burn up a LOT of Braun's for the cost of one Vita-mix.

I would like to gently bring up the point about MIXING drinks versus BLENDING drinks again, and discuss if it is Tiki snobbery/purism, or a valid concern.
The evolution of a popular art form is often dictated by changing tastes and growing awareness, which is good. But just as often changes seem to be brought on by compromises that have to be made, and practicalities, and in retrospect it is hard to say if that one element that got compromised is negligible, or if it is one of the contributors to the devolution of the art form.

In observing mid-century modern Tiki culture, and looking at all the elements that fell into place to create it and endear it to the public in its heyday, the decline of the care of making the original cocktails certainly was a contributor to its downfall, to its (literally) watering down.

The change in public tastes made the Margarita the cocktail of choice in the 70s, so did it become too much hassle to have both, a top mixer and a blender behind the bar? Was the discarding of the mixer in favor of the blender one of the many little compromises that caused the "Gatoraid-ization" of the Polynesian cocktail?

This is not a trick question, I simply do not remember what my mixology adviser's (the Bum) stance on this is, but I would like to know.

G

Actually, you bring up an interesting point Sven. I didn't realize that classic tiki bars originally used top mixers. And the difference in what a mixer does to a drink versus a blender would make a good study. It's also interesting to me that many of the drinks in Sippin' Safari call for blending the drink for no more than 5 seconds versus shaking the drink in a shaker with crushed ice. I haven't done a comparison as to the difference that makes in the final result. I'd also like to know what Jeff Berry says on this.

With regards to the original question, I'll just say that I use a KitchenAid that has served me well. It wasn't cheap, but with a 20% off coupon and some gift cards that we had, we made out okay.

I looked up the Hamilton top mixer and it's less than $30! That's the new one, of course. I'm all for that... but I'll still need a blender that can crush ice and make a fruit smoothie...

On 2008-01-15 15:38, DJ HawaiianShirt wrote:
I'm a young guy in an apartment with a freezer that makes decent ice cubes. How the heck can I make blended drinks if one can't do it with whole ice cubes? Pounding cubes in a bag isn't really an option: no matter what surface I do it on, anybody within a 2 room radius can hear it.

I mainly shake chilled and frozen drinks. I have a separate ice shaver. When I make Mai Tais, for example, I'll shake the ingredients with shaved ice until the ice has all melted, then pour that over the rocks. That's the way I saw it done in Lahaina, Maui in 1964.

This could be a whole topic unto itself - but there's a difference between "shaved ice" and "cracked ice"

TV's Mai Tai recipe calls for shaved ice, which is a fine, almost powdery stuff that melts pretty quickly as you shake it. Cracked ice is more like a snow cone, with smallish "chunks" of ice. I picked up an "Ice Shaver" from Pampered Chef on ebay, and it's really a difference with a Mai Tai - much smoother and the shaved ice dilutes the drink so it's less "alchohol-ey". Lots more work, though, cranking out a cup of shaved ice!

Cracked ice is called for in many Don Beachcomber recipes, where you put it in a blender with other ingredients. The ice totally liquifies (even in just 5 seconds on "high"). Blending with ingredients like Honey Cream Mix will "froth up", creating a new texture for the drink you couldn't get with shaking. I made a "Planter's Rum Punch" from Don's "Hawaii" book last night - light & frothy & tasty - definitely 2 thumbs up!

Something needs to be cleared up.

When a volume like the Grog Log says something to the nature of "blend with a cup/scoop of ice", 1)what size ice is it talking about, and 2)what is the final supposed consistency of the drink?

It seems to me that recipes with words like the ones above are ultimately to be like a slush, not a liquid. If we are indeed talking about some sort of slush, shouldn't the top mixer be omitted from this conversation?

Or am I completely wrong? :lol:

On 2008-01-16 09:49, DJ HawaiianShirt wrote:
Something needs to be cleared up.

When a volume like the Grog Log says something to the nature of "blend with a cup/scoop of ice", 1)what size ice is it talking about, and 2)what is the final supposed consistency of the drink?....

Good question and one that is going to probably pull a lot of conversation from a lot of different fronts....

Here is the 'general' rule for ice.....

Cube Ice (typical ice maker size) goes in your glass for anything 'on the rocks.'

Cracked ice (exactly like it sounds) goes in your shaker, unless the recipe says differently.

Crushed Ice goes in your shaker or you glass, or both, for most recipes unless the recipe says differently.

Shaved Ice is only used if the recipe calls for it.

Those are the 'general rules.' Specific instructions in your recipe should be followed as close as possible.

Then, to the question of Cracked - vs - crushed - vs - shaved.....

Cracked ice is exactly that, ice cubes that have been cracked in to smaller bits. Cracked ice is different sizes from tiny chips to something as large as 3/4 of the original cube size.

Crushed ice is small chips of ice that are all generally of the same size. I can't think of a reasonable example that everyone will identify with, so I will just say that small chips that are all about the same size.

Shaved ice is exactly that, an ice cube that has been shaved. This is typically what you would make a Sno-Cone/Hawaiian Shaved Ice with. This would be something like snow, thus a Sno-Cone.

And, once agian around to your question as to what to put in the blender/shaker/glass.... If the recipe says Blend with measure/scoop of ice, you generally want to use cracked or crushed ice.

Which leads back to the original question, how to get a decent crushed ice for your drink......

Wouldn't crushed ice fall under the realm of the table top ice crusher? Like the vintage ice-o-mat? I know there is a thread about it. I love mine, it's changed my drinks for the far better.

Unfortunately my current ice shaver doesn't shave as finely as the one I had previously. It leaves the ice rather coarse so that after lots of shaking there are still little ice nuggetrines floating around, causing a very thin slush. Ideally, the shaved ice comes out more like snow powder. When you shake that, it melts into the drink quickly and easily and does its chill thing to perfection.

For those of you in New England and other fresh snowy places, it's better to use snow than shaved ice. The thing is, you have to wait for the first 30 – 60 minutes of snowfall, long enough to clean the crap out of the atmosphere. Once the air is clean, then set your snow receptacles out. Snow is far superior to any shaved ice I've ever used.

I need some sort of ice crusher, I use the banging on the plastic-bag method and I´m so tired of it that sometimes I use ice cubes even though I want the ice to be crushed.The problem here is that you dont find ice crushing devices so easily, I have not yet seen any in a shop.. So I think Ill have to look at Ebay but don`t know which brand or type to look for.

Again, I'll ask this question, because I'm not sure it's been answered directly.

I have a freezer that makes whole ice cubes only. Is there a way I can make a blended drink without filling my counter with appliances?

From what I can tell now, this would require having an ice-crushing appliance and a blender, am I right? Anything else? Is anyone here in my predicament?

On 2008-01-17 07:57, DJ HawaiianShirt wrote:
Again, I'll ask this question, because I'm not sure it's been answered directly.

I have a freezer that makes whole ice cubes only. Is there a way I can make a blended drink without filling my counter with appliances?

From what I can tell now, this would require having an ice-crushing appliance and a blender, am I right? Anything else? Is anyone here in my predicament?

If I may divert the conversation back to Bigbro's point about Top Mixers....

Sherman, set the controls of the Time Machine for 1950.....

Consider the drinks we all love and their origins. Most of the Tiki Drinks were created in 'Commercial Bars' using professional tools and industrial size ingredient availability. We like to think that Trader Vic and Donn Beach sat behind a bar like we have in our homes and did the mad-scientist thing to come up with the Zombies and Mai-Tais. But they didn't. The mad-scientist thing is probably correct, but not the secretive bar/lab in the basement thing.

So, with that in mind.... the ice available/used in the drink, the blender/mixer used, the quality and quantity of the ingredients used were all of a Professional Bar level. Lets look back a bit, shall we?

Ice

Commercial Ice Makers crank out ice in large volumes, usually VERY large volumes. One of the ways the machines are able to do this is to make a smaller cube. Look at the ice in your glass next time you are at the local watering hole, it will be smaller and probably round-ish. It will probably look a lot like the Party Ice you pick up at the corner market for about a dollar a bag for five pounds.

From that machine, it is a small step mechanically to Crushed Ice. I have seen machines that can crank out a pound of crushed ice in just a very few minutes and I have read of machines that can generate ten or more pounds in less than fifteen minutes. If I were running a bar and needed crushed ice you can bet I will have one of those!

So... We can surmise that the ice used in most of the tiki drinks would be either small-cube (Party Ice) or crushed ice. If you are trying to replicate as best as you can the entire experience of a Tiki drink in your average home-bar you should go for cracked ice (to mimic the smaller cube typical of a commercial ice maker) or crushed ice because it blends easier/better in the drink.

Blender vs Mixer

This one is a bit more difficult, because most bars had both. Top Mixers were more common 'then' because they could be used for more things (milk-shakes anyone?). And, using a Boston Shaker makes it a snap to use a Top Mixer so that would be the most likely candidate to use in blending a drink.

Blenders, on the other hand, are harder to use and clean (generally) and because of that would be used far less than the top mixer. And, if you have equal access to cubed and crushed ice, you don't need the blender to crush your ice in your drink.

This obviously favors the Top Mixer as the tool of choice. If you have access to crushed ice in sufficient quantities and are trying to be as authentic as your home-bar will allow, get a Top Mixer.

Your Home-Bar

Still under the assumption that this discussion is for the Home-Bartender, what do you need to recreate Tiki drinks as authentically as counter space and budget allow? You need access to sufficient quantities of crushed ice, a Top Mixer, some premium ingredients to mix together, and a commitment to devoting that kind of counter space to your home-bar.

How do you do it without one or more of those things? You do the best you can with what you have.

An Ice Crusher is an invaluable tool to have for the bar (manual or electric), but you can do pretty well with a wooden spoon and a bar towel to get cracked ice. Search ice crusher on ebay, you will be amazed at what is available.

No blender is going to do a 'good' job on crushing ice, but they will all give you enough cracked ice to make just about anything you want in very short order. Add your ice and spin, then add your drink and spin again.

Getting back to the 'general rules....'

When your recipe calls for a cup of ice and Blend for 5 seconds, you want to start with cracked ice, crushed being even better. 5 seconds with typical freezer-sized cube ice isn't going to do anything but give you huge chunks of ice.

And then, getting back to the original question of what to have at home....

My recommendation is a Blender (nothing too fancy, see tips earlier in thread) and an Ice Crusher (I like manual, electric is preferred by others).

In an effort to do it with one appliance, get a blender (see tips earlier in this thread). All you have to do is add ice to blender and spin to get cracked/crushed ice as best as the machine will handle. Then, add drink ingredients and spin again. You will have to experiment a bit to get the consistency of the drink where it is desirable. (drats! you mean I have to make more than one drink? :) )

So, my overly long answer to your question is get a good blender. I like my Westbend and it is cheap enough that I can get a new one if I burn it out.

This has been of great help, thanks!

On 2008-01-16 12:48, sporkboyofjustice wrote:
Wouldn't crushed ice fall under the realm of the table top ice crusher? Like the vintage ice-o-mat? I know there is a thread about it. I love mine, it's changed my drinks for the far better.

No home should be without one or two. I have a pink and gray "Maid of Honor" mounted in my kitchen and a counter top "Ice-o-mat" on my backyard bar. It can crush coarse or fine depending which way you crank the handle. Lo-tech at it's finest but with space-age style!

As for blenders...find a vintage one. They weigh a ton but will do the job of 10 new ones from China. Here are some awesome examples from Sputnik Housewares-check out the ice crushers on the left also. shameless plug sorry!

Chip, I dun know... I think I'm going to go with a more expensive blender, with the idea that it will crush ice and a cheap top mixer from Target

On 2008-01-17 14:44, Bongo Bungalow wrote:
Chip, I dun know... I think I'm going to go with a more expensive blender, with the idea that it will crush ice and a cheap top mixer from Target

If you have the counter space (or storage space) then that is an excellent idea! And I have my eye on a vintage top-mixer for the same reason.

All this (thank you for the elaborate explanations, C&A! :) ) still does not answer the question of does a top mixer create a different, more authentic consistency in certain vintage cocktails. Are they more frothy and light than blended ones, perhaps?

T

I think the Kahiki had crushed ice.
As well as larger cubes for drinks.
But ice in a restaurant is made fast
as Chip said, it is also SOFTER than ice made at home.
The Osterizer classic will work with large hard home ice.
But I think an ice crusher is your better choice.
It too will chew up home ice.
I know I use the chrusher more than blender.
You can find ice crushers on ebay for about $20.00.

On 2008-01-17 18:43, bigbrotiki wrote:
All this (thank you for the elaborate explanations, C&A! :) ) still does not answer the question of does a top mixer create a different, more authentic consistency in certain vintage cocktails. Are they more frothy and light than blended ones, perhaps?

I don't know about the 'authentic consistency' because a ultimately a top mixer does the same thing as a regular blender. It is a matter of power, ingredients, and blend time.

A top mixer will do its job to a drink faster than a blender, generally, because of the physics of a top mixer. A top mixer is nothing more than mixing wheel on a stick very much like a modern immersion blender (or stick-blender). When you use a top blender you are pushing the mix part of the machine through the drink versus a blender that has the mixing blade in a fixed position in relation to the ingredients.

In theory at least, five seconds in a top mixer is more blending compared to the same time in a blender.

Does someone out there have a top mixer and a blender that can run a comparison for us?

B

I have both. We do cocktails in the blender, never an issue.

Milkshakes & the like with the top mixer.

Perhaps its because the top mixer is a better choice for malt-shop type goodies and the blender is better for cocktails.....or maybe its because the blender is downstairs at the bar, and the mixer is upstairs in the kitchen (where the ice cream is).

If you've got to crush a lot of ice in the cocktail, the blender wins, hands down. I say go with blender. Biggest & badest you can afford. I'm just now starting to burn out the Warring beehive that was my grandmothers....gotta be 40 to 50 years old.

If you've got a restaurant supply shop nearby, go in & kick the tires. You might be able to get a reutrned one on the cheap there as well.

my 2 cents

G

Okay, but this still begs the question, is there a difference between blending a drink with crushed ice for 5 seconds (or pulsing it 5 times as I do) versus shaking the same drink in a cocktail shaker? The only advantage I can see to blending versus shaking in this case is capacity. If I'm making two Navy Grogs at once, I'd use the blender versus the shaker. Of course, "frozen" drinks are an entirely different matter, requiring the blender for a different reason.

And a quick word about ice crushers. I have two: the ice dispenser in my fridge and a countertop vintage Oster. The Oster crushes ice more uniform in size than does the fridge dispenser, but you can't beat the fridge for speed. Also, my Oster tends to get jammed up easily, which frustrates me to no end. I tend to have it on the "course" setting as I find the "fine" setting produces crystals that are too small and melt too quickly.

One last thing! When using crushed ice, FILL the glass with ice. This will chill the drink faster and prevent the ice from melting too quickly in the glass.

Of course the mixer is better for malt shop goodies. The question is if the mixer is better than the blender for authentic vintage cocktails! ...and if nowadays the blender is used because it simply has become the standard, because it is more common and more convenient.

The shaker is a whole nother subject!

I'm gonna ask Mike Sr at the Ti tonite.

In "Sippin' Safari", the drinks that are not shaken most all say, "Put everything in a blender, saving ice for last. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds." Now, Jeff Berry knows the difference between a top mixer and a blender, so he must believe a blender does it right. No?

Yes and no. Believe or not, Jeff has eased his hardcore-ness occasionally to adjust it to realistic expectations. One needs to do that nowadays to not be viewed as a cook...or a snob! :)

Forgive the slightly newbie question then, but assuming I've never had a proper version of the "blended" cocktails...

To requote from Berry:
"Put everything in a blender, saving ice for last. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds."

Does the above method yield a "frozen" or slushy drink? Or is it simply a quicker way to "shake" a completely liquid drink?

On 2008-01-18 11:35, DJ HawaiianShirt wrote:
Forgive the slightly newbie question then, but assuming I've never had a proper version of the "blended" cocktails...

To requote from Berry:
"Put everything in a blender, saving ice for last. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds."

Does the above method yield a "frozen" or slushy drink? Or is it simply a quicker way to "shake" a completely liquid drink?

Yes.

Sort of.

Not quite.

For most of the Grog Log drinks with those instructions the blender is more like a power-shaker and less like a blender. It is the fastest way to get the drink mixed and chilled with the bonus of being able to get your ice down to a nice presentation of something hopefully a bit finer than your average crushed ice. Think chunky slush....

If you want to take the drink all the way to the slushy stage you can, but beware the "Freeze-Brain" effect if you drink too fast....

The ultimate goal for all of the drinks in the Grog Log (well, any drink really) is to be as enjoyable at the end of it as it was at the beginning of it. Getting the drink as cold as you can as fast as you can controls the amount of additional melt in the drink while you are enjoying it.

I'll have to make a few cocktails this weekend (drats!) and get pictures and test the macro-mode of my camera to see if I can get the texture to show.

Using macro mode after a few drinks can be quite scary. Be careful.

And, back to that question... none of my drinks blended for 5 seconds come out slushy. As Chip said, it's really just a power shaker method. Well put. I don't want slushy. That's for the frozen Margarita crowd. The best crushed iced in drinks I've seen were from some of the better Vic's locations where the ice was very uniform tiny square-ish crystals that practically glimmered. Makes for a very cold drink and a nice presentation when the glass is filled with it.

G

... like this. And that rock candy swizzle is pretty sexy too.

Now, the one in the back, that's a slushy drink.

Dang! I wanna dive in! The evening will be here sooon...

The evening is here already! I've had two caipirinhas (prepped for a photo shoot), and I'm headed for a Bongo Bungalow Mai Tai! But, and it's a gig but, we don't have the Tiki Ti. (So sad!)

On 2008-01-18 13:33, bigbrotiki wrote:
Dang! I wanna dive in! The evening will be here sooon...

And the evening is here..i´m on my 3rd Mai Tai now :drink:

M
mieko posted on Fri, Jan 18, 2008 3:45 PM

I love the Waring pro blender we got about 10 years ago from a restaurant supply place, they're now selling the same one at multiple places, including Williams Sonoma and Amazon.

Even with the huge moon shaped ice cubes we have, it'll make a fully slushie margarita in 5 seconds. No chunks of ice. Jar is all one piece, so it's a little hard to clean since you have to stick your hand in there, but then again, you don't have to take it apart and clean all the nooks and crannies.

On 2008-01-18 13:16, GatorRob wrote:
... like this. And that rock candy swizzle is pretty sexy too.

Now, the one in the back, that's a slushy drink.

The red drink..what is it?

Yummy rock candy swizzle sticks -- can't have a Navy Grog without one!

I love my Oster Osterizer blender, one switch, easy, strong, gets the job done.
$50 at the Swap Meet.

Although I prefer to shake, I know it's blasphemy, but I loved a blended Marqarita every now and then in the summer.

There we hear it: Blenders are GO for the Margarita lovers! :)

I did ask the two Mikes (in person), AND the Bum (via the telephone), and here are the verdicts:

Mike Sr.: "The blenders are stronger and make the ice too slushy, the mixers are more gentle and give the ice the perfect consistency" (he conceded that that might be a function of the TIME spent blending) and "We would not get the same frothy texture that our drinks always had"

Mike Jr. agreed and added to that: "Top mixers are the best way for OUR style of cocktails. I guess it is a matter of preference"

Here is Jr. getting two Lapu Lapus ready on his double Hamilton Beach mixer. Hmm they were goood!

The Tiki Ti was in Tiki folks hands tonight, it was great: Bora Boris, JP Ballack, Tiki Kate, Miles Thompson, Conga Mike, Squid, Humu, Big Tiki Dude....and more! :)

As I thought, the reasons for the Bum not insisting on the top mixer were complex, one being that he felt it was too much to ask to get the old ones, he feels the new remakes are too flimsy. The PROS are that it aerates the cocktail more, and makes it frothier. But then he shared his observation that at any of the Trader Vic's he had been to, including the Beverly Hills one, he had only seen BLENDERS being used. -And those cocktails were some of the best I ever had! So it seems that it is part of the mixologist's personal style. Tony Ramos of Don The Beachcomber and Madame Wu's only used Hamilton Beach mixers.

Here is a little urban archeology: The big Hamilton Beach at the back bar station at the Chin Tiki, Detroit:

....the top mixer, soon another outdated relic.

That top mixer at the Chin Tiki looks like some thing from War Of The Worlds. I see the old top mixers for sale now and then in my travels. I may have to give one a test drive. Thanks for all the great info. Good thread.

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