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JAZ

Mixer guns

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I have a real problem with the quality of carbonated mixers in many bars here in San Francisco, so much so that I rarely order G&Ts or Rickeys (which I love) or Collinses when I'm out. It didn't occur to me that it might be the mixer guns, until I had a G&T at a bar that didn't use them. Instead, the bartender opened up a small bottle of tonic and used that. What a difference! Since then, I've always asked, and now I only order drinks with carbonated mixers from bars that use bottles.

But it seems that more and more bars are going to mixer guns, which always seem to produce undercarbonated, stale tasting mixers. I'm sure that it's less expensive, and faster, and I can understand why bars would want to use them, but is it not possible to set the carbonation level correctly in them? Is it just that the bars I go to aren't getting the combination right, or are the guns inherently awful?

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Janet, they are awful because of one dirty little secret...they are not easy to clean and since they are not easy to clean, they are rarely kept clean, even a semblance of clean, and you can really taste that in soda and tonic - less so the colas and such. It's not just the gun, it's the lines and the connections. Like you, I avoid 'em. They are easy to use but not sanitary enough for my -ahem- tastes.

--Doc.

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I wish that more places would use small bottles (which in fact are a pain in the ass for everybody concerned and not nearly as available here as they are in Europe, particularly Britain and Ireland). They make a much better cocktail. Also, as someone who often just orders a soda and lime late at night, I get tired of having the soda tasting of coke.

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I've worked on a teeny little island that was entirely a private club. We solely used the small bottles of various sodas or fruit juices which is not always of benefit to the customer/guest (or in this case the member). Their expense and cost was huge and often like the open house bottle of cabernet, may too go stale, flat or worse, is warm. It did require some getting used to handling with both hands mixing a drink/cocktail, but it wasn't impossible to adjust. The high price of using them was fixed into the outrageous drink prices (beers were $8.50 to $10.00; most cocktails were $9.00 to $12.00 each). These were millionaires that were members! Who cares right?

Ha! Trust me, the club president has since invested in a soda gun dispensing system to cut down on operational costs of their little wild island paradise. :biggrin:

Soda guns: so many factors to consider and none in any particular order.

Unfortunately, the soda systems are not flushed in the same manner as beer lines. We even asked our local rep about this and he said not to worry. Right. :rolleyes:

However much can be done to clean what is able to be cleaned by the bartender! The soda guns should be soaked nightly, the rubber rest cup is most often removable to also go through a diswasher wash and/or soaking. CO2 can be adjusted or the bartender needs to learn to hold the desired soda button down firmly. With many systems, if it is held only half way down, that will often create more syrup to carbonation ratio (hence sweet! Yuk!) And consider the price of the syrups. Many a bar, unless they utilise a system installed and maintained by Pepsi or Coke, will often purchase generic "cola" or "lemon-lime" instead of a name brand. Yes, you can taste huge difference.

Also to consider, a part of the taste will be due to your local municipality's tap water.

Oh! Sometimes the syrup runs out and sometimes the only way to tell is when someone tastes it (usually the guest - doh!) and notifies someon on the staff about it so that the syrup box can be changed out. This happens with our tonic or Sprite (colourless) from time to time.

With regard to carbonation: The bartender should be able to notice the general lack thereof. This may be because they simply don't care or that someone forgot to order a new CO2 tank, and you'd be surprised how often that happens, if only by silly managerial mistake.

This is usually why my fail safe, go to drink will always be a wonderful bottled beer/microbrew or whatever flavour of the moment I'm intrigued with -- as in "__________ on the rocks, please!"

I hope this helps.

edit for clarity


Edited by beans (log)

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It's also possible to adjust the ratio of syrup to soda on most guns, but few operators bother to tinker with that. Although there have been occasions when I've tasted decent cola or lemon-lime soda from a gun (few and far between), I've never had good tonic water from a gun. They just don't seem to be able to get it right.

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Beans hit it on head for me. They don't flush the lines like on the beer. I named some problem areas, but it's really all about the lines for me. I do agree about the ratio issues, though. I would think between the manufacturers and the municipalities none of these issues would be hard problems to correct.

--Doc.

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