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Cocktails in Slushie Machines? Advice?


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I recently had a few experiences at large cocktail events where people were serving icy craft cocktails dispensed from what appeared to just be repurposed slushie machines. I've looked around online for advice, but can't find anything useful from a "craft" perspective: has anyone done this before? Do you need to calibrate the recipe in a special way? Can I just dump a bunch of stuff in the hopper and press "on"? I feel like the sugar/alcohol might throw off the freezing ability of the machine, but I've never used one...  

I'm debating buying a used machine for use in some of my events, but I'd rather not make a purchase *completely* blind...  Thanks for your help!

Torrence O'Haire - Private Chef, FMSC Tablemaster, Culinary Scholar

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

-J. Child

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a friend is using one at work that was inherited from the previous tenant who was basically using it in an alcoholic but non craft context. they had some hiccups in the beginning and thought the machine might be broken and couldn't find an instruction manual then found one. if I bought one I'd want to know spare parts were available and that someone around was willing to service it.


now this bar's is up and running but I'm not sure they've optimized it. their main recipe is a pimms cup. I'm sure sugar content and alcohol content are necessary for optimizing the quality of the slush, but because it agitates constantly it is probably so much more forgiving than trying to make an alcoholic sorbet or granita that ultimately separates.


I suspect if a recipe book for genuine new orleans slushies can be turned up, craft versions can be extrapolated.

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes


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Red Medicine in LA has been doing crafty drinks out of a slush machine for a few years. Last time I was there, I had the #81 (Vodka, Grapefruit, Vanilla Shrub, Campari, Curacao & Cocchi Americano), dispensed from this unassuming machine into a salt-rimmed glass. Using this drink as a template, if presented with a machine and no sense of what ABV was optimal, I might start with a mix of low-proof ingredients, add them to the machine and then step up the proof with vodka until I got the consistency I was looking for.



True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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I've found that with regular scooped ice cream, 40 proof alcohol has a softening effect approximately equal to sugar by weight.  If i wanted a bourbon ice cream that would still freeze, I'd reduce the sugar by the same amount of bourbon that I was adding.  If you can figure out how much sugar a commercial slushie mix has, that would be a good starting point.  I believe granita base is usually around 20% sugar by weight, so using that example you could do a cocktail that was 5% sugar and 15% alcohol and hopefully maintain the slushy granita texture.

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I would suggest starting with cocktails that are traditionally served over shaved or crushed ice; in most cases, those get a slushy consistency.  Just off the top of my head:



Mint Julep (I'd dry-shake the mint with the bourbon, and strain it off before freezing)



What I would do is make one "properly", with crushed ice, on a scale, and write down your weights.  That should give you the right proportion of water to add.

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