A good blender opens up dozens of drink possibilities, but a bad blender can sputter out in the middle of your busiest night and cause all kinds of problems. And there are dozens of options to choose from—so where do you even begin?
Start by asking yourself these questions:
1. What do you need to blend?
This one seems obvious, but many business owners fail to adequately consider this. What you’re blending has a massive impact on the type of machine you need. Most bar units are designed specifically to mix cocktails. They can stand up to the occasional smoothie, but they’ll wear out fast if you try to make too many.
If you make a lot of smoothies, you’ll want to go with a food blender. If you purée sauces or frequently blend large batches of food, you’ll want an immersion blender—a stick blender you can use with any large food container.
2. What size batches will you be blending?
Another question that seems obvious, but once again many business owners fail to properly consider it. Always err on the side of too much room. It will cost you more up front, but it will come in handy when you have a big group ordering cocktails.
A small bar can typically run fine with a 48oz machine; larger venues should look at 64oz or bigger.
3. How many blended drinks do you typically make in a night?
If you make a lot of blended drinks you’ll need a blender with significant horsepower. If you make a wide variety of blended drinks it also has to be easy to clean. If you make many batches of the same drink every night you might want a programmable blender.
You should also make sure the blender has several different power options so you can make a wide variety of recipes, and that it’s easy to switch between modes. Electronic controls typically provide the highest level of control.
4. Where will the blender go?
A blender can have a massive impact on your environment, so it’s important to think about where you’ll put the blender before you buy it.
Blenders that are directly behind the bar should always have a noise-canceling enclosure so they don’t disrupt the environment you’ve created. If your blender will be used in the kitchen this isn’t such a big concern, as the kitchen’s already so noisy they might not even notice!
5. New, used, or lease?
Now that you know what blender you’re going to buy it’s time to decide how you’ll buy it. Like any piece of equipment, you have three options here: buy it new, buy it used, or lease it. And each one has their advantages.
Leasing food prep equipment can be a great option if you’re just starting out and don’t have enough to pay for the blender outright, but it typically costs more in the long run. Blenders are also relatively affordable compared to other restaurant equipment, so leasing is only worthwhile in very specific instances.
As to new or used, once again they both come with advantages. A brand new machine will have a warranty, and a company that can do paid repairs after the warranty ends. A used machine rarely has a warranty, and the company that made it might not even exist anymore. That said, if you can find a gently used machine, you’ll save hundreds of dollars.
If you’re still not sure what blender you want, talk to other restaurant and bar owners in your area about what they use. Sometimes a conversation with someone you trust can tell you more about a product than any amount of research.