The Tale of Our Frozen Cocktails

August 2, 2019

There was a time where frozen cocktails represented the only product in our range and for that reason, that’s often how people recognise us. I don’t mind that, although I am delighted that we have evolved and expanded to include a wider range of products aimed at helping businesses serve remarkable cocktails.

I often say that our journey so far is very much a tale of evolution. We’re a modern business being built the old-fashioned way through patience, perseverance and integrity. Our frozen cocktails echo this evolutionary tale.

In 2011, I launched Icely Done with two great friends and the first product we brought to market was our Frozen Cocktail Sticks – or boozy ice pops. This was inspired by a trip to Brazil where I encountered ‘sacole’, a frozen, fresh fruit ice pop – offered to passers-by in the coastal neighbourhoods as you travel south from Salvador to Rio. This experience intermingled with years of cocktail experience created our frozen cocktail sticks. We offered flavours like Rum & Mango – Spiced Rum & Banana – Vodka with Pomegranate & Pink Grapefruit amongst other delicious flavours. On their day – they were incredible and they worked especially well as events & festivals.

One experience in particular stands out – at Boomtown Festival. I watched in bemusement as one of our chest freezers remained opened for long periods while staff took it in turns to pull fistfuls of them out at a time. I remember the humbling feeeling of watching people part with their hard-earned cash for something we’d created in our kitchen at home. Crazy shit.

Although I knew how to make tasty drinks, and provide a good service, unfortunately I didn’t know how to run a business and after 3 difficult years, we faced the inevitable and sought to wind up the business. I wasn’t done though – and that death made way for a new beginning.

A Fresh Start

As it turns out – that new beginning was not an entirely new beginning and was evolutionary in nature. Under the guise of a new company, run by me on my own this time, I used what I had learnt in formulating frozen drinks to find a new way to offer delicious frozen drinks..

With the ice pops, we had provided a great service to the event bar companies and operated with integrity. For that reason, when I went back to them with our frozen cocktails dispensed through slush machines, they were open to trialling. I had a lot of belief in this concept. I had recently travelled through Italy and the fresh fruit, frozen granitas in Naples introduced me to a product that I felt had great potential if it were to be brought more widely in to the landscape of cocktail bars.

This is our journey though. I won’t claim that we were the first. I am certain that folks were offering this at festivals and events in the UK before us. The infamous Mick the Slush(!) owned a handful of machines and the awesome Soulshakers had this as part of their offering, no doubt at Glastonbury and elsewhere. I expect that this offering reached the UK via the frozen Margaritas of the US –  probably Las Vegas.

During one of my first festival seasons with this new product, one night stands out in particular. I spent the whole night juicing pink grapefruits to make a frozen Paloma with Olmeca Los Altos tequila. Back in those days, we mixed the spirits in with our mix – we no longer do that.  The Palomas went to Field Day festival on a sale or return basis. To my dismay, much of it came back, and subsequently went off, with hundred of pounds worth of tequila to go with it. I had to learn quickly, otherwise I’d soon be putting myself back together after another broken business heart break. Nowadays, we’re more solid in our offering as a result of learning many hard lessons.

A Taste of the Action

Today, our Frozen Cocktail offering is made up of the following flavours:

Strawberry
Passion Fruit & Vanilla (frozen Pornstars!)
Tonic
Piña Colada
Frosé

At the request of spirits partners, we’ve also produced small runs of other flavours to include:

Rhubarb & Strawberry (with Belvedere vodka)
Lynchburg Lemonade (with Jack Daniels)
Rhubarb Gin & Tonic
Pink Gin & Tonic

The slush machines were only ever meant to be a vehicle through which we could deliver delicious liquids, but these days, the slush side of our business is a division in itself. We own a growing number of machines ourselves and we are also contracted to look after machines for Diageo & Bacardi-Brown Forman, as well as a prominent national bar chain.

We still produce every drop of liquid that goes through our frozen drinks machines and we’re proud of how far we’ve come. That said – there is plenty of work still to do, and there is a lot of room for us to improve. We’re committed to that improvement – both operationally and with the liquids themselves. We take nothing for granted.

Over the next 12 months, you can expect to see us reducing sugar, buying bigger and more powerful machines and becoming even slicker from an operational standpoint. We’ll also continue to evolve our offering to make sure that we are producing even more delicious, inventive & imaginative cocktails. We’ll also be more proactive about working with spirit brand partners also. Although our 5L cans are recyclable, we expect to move away from packaging our product in plastic by this time next year.

As well as festivals like Glastonbury & British Summer Time, following is a short list of some of the folks we’re proud to be working with this year:

Pergola
The Prince
Street Feast
Box Park

Thanks for reading!

Lefti

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