Blender vs. Mixer

Posted by TraderTiki on January 23rd, 2008 — Posted in Rum, Tools

Recently, on Tiki Central, there has been some discussion as to the use of a Blender, vs. the use of a Top-Down Mixer, and what difference they might make in recreating the classic tiki cocktails. I recently had the luck to happen upon a classic Hamilton Beach Drinkmaster, and have been testing it the past few nights. Testing must continue, of course, but I thought I would share my results so far, as posted on the Tiki Central Food and Drink boards.

Drinkmaster and Osterizer

The Equipment

Top-Down Mixer

  • Hamilton Beach DRINKMASTER NUMBER THIRTY, with 4-fold Aerator, circa 1930
  • Power: 125 Watts


  • Oster Osterizer, circa 2005
  • Power: 500 Watts

Navy Grog in the Blend v Mix challengeRound the first, Navy Grog.

The Ice: Fine, Machine-grind
Technique 5-second count blend/mix

Use of the machine ground fine ice was a bit of a mistake, as the drinks were a touch watery, with a only about 1/4 of the glass containing ice in the served cocktail.

At first sip, the drinks were fairly similar, except for a bit of large bubbling on the top of the mixer-made drink. The visuals of the drink are noticeably different, in that the mixer made drink is slightly less transparent, and the ice has a more natural iceberg shape, with variations in the ice-chunk size. The blender made drink is more of a solid band around the top of the drink.

After 10 minutes or so, the drinks were becoming different. The blender made drink was a bit colder, with smaller condensation droplets, and seemed to be lasting in its initial flavors longer, not succumbing to the melting ice.

Zombie, in the Blend v Mix challenge

Round the second, Zombie

The Ice: Coarse, Machine-grind
Technique 5-second count blend/mix

I’ve settled on the coarse, machine ground ice for testing. I’m very satisfied with tonight’s results.

Tonight, I threw together Don the Beachcomber’s classic Zombie. May I just reiterate, what a fine damned drink. If you haven’t put together the recipe from Intoxica yet, just do it… go buy the book now (I’ve got links on the site), and make the damn “thing”.

Same recipe, same amount of ice, same mix/blend time.

The glass was notably chillier in the blender-made drink this evening, with the liquid inside just a touch more transparent. The ice was pretty much the same in both. The blended drink had a damned decent amount of froth to it. That 4-fold aerator is no joke, and whips a LOT of bubbles into the drink. I’d imagine if my Passion Fruit Syrup had anything to trap that air (maltodextrin, gum arabic, or some other thickening agent) it’d make a LOT more difference, but the froth stayed on top for a good 8 minutes.

The texture of the drinks themselves were not noticeably different, but the mixer-made drink seemed to keep the sharper edges of the Demerara 151. My wife has a keener palate than mine, and she noticed some more depth in the blender made drink.

My thoughts so far…

So far, I’m concluding that the Drinkmaster has some superior connotations for a few reasons. The first, being that it gets hand-hurtingly cold, like a good Ramos Fizz, within SECONDS. The second being that instead of the specialized fitting and cleaning of the glass bottom-blender, even a standard shaker can be used in the Drinkmaster. It is also quieter, and if you can get the triple-capacity model (as at the Chin-Tiki), just looks damned cool behind the bar. The blender doesn’t seem to be any bit more sluggish, I just have the natural fear that the difference of one second of the ice in those sharp blades can turn a Mai Tai into a blended drink within seconds.  However, I can’t honestly say there’s a wide gap in difference as far as the end product is concerned.  Both drinks are coming out as fine as they were ever meant to be.

Much further testing must ensue.  Tonight, I’m thinking Cobra’s Fang.  If you’re in the area, drop me a line for an invite!

If you liked that post, then try these...

San Francisco, Part the Second

Black Stripe
Looking outside today, the weather is certainly ripe for some nice winter warmers, at least for my thin skin.

Top shelf rum tasting


Comment by erik_flannestad

The glass jar of the mixer, unless pre-chilled, is going to suck a lot of cold out of your drink, in comparison to the stainless tin of the mixer.

Posted on January 23, 2008 at 10:01 am

Comment by TraderTiki

Thank Erik, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll have to throw in a chilled glass jar for this evening’s round.

Posted on January 23, 2008 at 10:05 am

Comment by Dr. Bamboo

THIS is exactly why the web was created. How else would this kind of vital information be shared in a timely fashion?

And yes, I think you need to conduct many, many more experiments…in the spirit of scientific inquiry of course ;-)

I eagerly await your findings.

Posted on January 23, 2008 at 11:43 am

Comment by Rick

I have to 100% agree with Dr. Bamboo.

My fridge produces an interesting crushed ice. I get anything from 1/4″ chunks to shaved ice. I vastly enjoy the magic the variety adds to tiki drinks.

Discussing blending techniques with Jeff Berry at Tales last year, he suggested going for a 3 second blend instead of 5. It does aerate the drink nicely without giving you any watered down taste.

Well then, I was going to keep making drinks out of Baker’s book, but it looks like it’s time for a Zombie!

Posted on January 24, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Comment by MrBaliHai

Good stuff!

I’ve been conducting my own Zombie experiments over at Cocktailians. I went for the full five seconds using a standard blender and 3/4 cup of crushed ice, then added ice cubes to fill the rest of the glass as called for in the 1934 Zombie Punch recipe in Sippin’ Safari. The result was uniformly chilled, and not watery in the slightest.

Posted on January 25, 2008 at 8:17 pm

Comment by TraderTiki

Dr. Bamboo - Thanks!

Rick - may I ask what fridge/icemaker you have? Mine just does the little half-ovoids, no crusher (but plenty of hand-wringers and the Snoflake). Repeal Day shifted me towards classic cocktails, but the upcoming Teardrop event has me really hitting the books and bar on Tiki Drinks. Love Baker’s book, though the recipes can be… curious to read.

MrBaliHai - I have been doing a bit of experimenting with ice too… with the new mixer, and some new glassware (13.5 oz. zombie glasses!), it’s been a bit challenging to make sure each drink is worthy of presentation. I might have to make a Zombie punch again tonight… for science.

Posted on January 28, 2008 at 10:57 am

Comment by Rick


I have an LG refrigerator I got about 3 years ago. It does a bunch of sizes of moon shapes and crushes. I absolutely love it.

The Bum just posted about ice crushers:

Posted on January 31, 2008 at 9:13 pm

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