Bartenders need a ready supply of ice at their fingertips. A prominent feature behind most bars is an ice well. Typically, this is a square or rectangular, stainless steel bin that has insulated walls and holds anywhere from about 35 to 175 pounds of ice.
Often, ice wells will have an open top, a back splash, a drain, and adjustable legs that bring the top edge of the unit up to a good working height of about 32 to 35 inches. Using a small stainless steel scoop, bartenders should be able to stand in front of an ice well and scoop ice into drink glasses without much bending.
Bartenders usually retrieve ice from a centralized source using dedicated ice totes or ice caddies. They pour ice directly into the ice well to start their shift. They refill it throughout their shift, as necessary.
Ice wells often include additional features.
- Speed Bottle Holders – Many ice wells come with removable speed bottle holders that can be mounted along the inside edge of the ice well, submerged in the ice. Mixers that require refrigeration, such as fruit juices, cream, and tomato juice are put in speed bottles and placed in the bottle holders during the shift. Those mixers are always within the bartender’s easy reach, and remain safely chilled below the level of the ice.
- Cold Plate – Many ice wells feature an integrated cold plate. A cold plate is an aluminum or stainless steel plate that sits at the bottom of the ice well where it remains at temperatures close to freezing. Soda water and syrup lines run through the internal tubing of the cold plate just prior to being dispensed. As long as the plate remains covered with ice, carbonated beverages will remain chilled and bubbly.
- Speed Rail – Many ice wells feature a speed rail on the outside front of the bin. Speed rails holds some of the most frequently used bottles of liquor such as gin, vodka, rum, and scotch, within easy reach of the bartender.
Manufacturers such as Krowne Brands manufacture quality ice wells and other underbar products.