Barrel Freezers, Beverage Freezers, Frozen Drink Machines, and Margarita Machines

Many manufacturers produce barrel freezers which come in all sizes and configurations. The most common is the single barrel freezer, your typical margarita machine, with the dual freezer model a close second. These machines vary in configurations and output capacity.

Barrel Freezers: Also known as — Beverage Freezers, Frozen Drink Machines, and Margarita Machines

Crathco Wilch Grindmaster 3312 double barrel frozen beverage dispenser

Most units produced today provide stainless steel construction, chilled top fill storage hoppers, removable faceplates for easy cleaning, drip trays, and additional accessories. Motor and compressor configurations meet any dispensing flow needed. Various electrical voltages, amperage ratings, and wattage usage allow you to specify units to fit into your existing wiring plans. These units can dispense frozen beverages, frozen drinks, frozen margaritas, cappuccino/ granita latte, frozen fruit juices, lemonade, or slush.

The main type of barrel freezers is considered “The Box Style” or “The Margarita Machine.” You see in most restaurants, yogurt shops, and commercial installations today. While this style of machine was invented over thirty years ago, it remains unchanged, except for a few minor refinements. These compact models are stand-alone units. They come in single and double barrel configurations. They serve a specified number of drinks per hour continuously throughout the establishments operating hours. These are better for continuous use and dispensing rather than surge usage due to the relatively small amount of liquid maintained in the frozen state at all times.

The robust and versatile units consist of three main parts: the storage hopper, the barrel freezer, and the compressor & motor configuration.

The Storage Hopper

The storage hopper is located at the top of the unit. It is a top fill hopper that automatically replenishes the freezer barrel with product as it’s dispensed from the unit. The storage hopper can hold anywhere from two gallons to five gallons depending on configuration. The freezer barrel located directly below it cools the hopper. Once a pre-mixed liquid is added to the storage hopper, it automatically keeps the freezer barrel filled until the mix runs out. A low level light alerts the operator when the mix level is getting low. Therefore, you can add more product before the freezer barrel empties.

A metering device, known as a carburetor, allows the correct mix of air to liquid ratio to enter the barrel freezer or freezing chamber. This ratio differs for the type of drink dispensed and the thickness required. The operator benefit is that one gallon of mix will create greater than one gallon of dispensed frozen drink. “Overrun” describes the increase in product volume based on the amount of air trapped in the mix as the liquid freezes. It has a direct relationship on profit, frozen drink characteristics, freezing time, and taste. For example, an increase from 25 percent to 50 percent overrun will yield a 20 percent larger portion. Customers equate a larger size with increased value.

Most units also provide a back-lit panel on the front of the machine. This can display signage of the frozen drink the unit contains. This is located directly in front of the storage hopper of the machine.

The Freezer Barrel

The barrel freezer is cylindrical, approximately five inches in diameter, running from the front to the back of the unit. It will hold approximately 1.5 gallons of drink mix. Freezer coils wrap around the outside of the barrel to maintain the liquid in a frozen state.

The only liquid that maintains a frozen state is the liquid in this barrel. The barrel typically has a clear faceplate, removable for cleaning, located on the front. This faceplate holds the dispensing arm and regulates the flow of frozen goodness. Inside the cylinder is the wiper that continuously mixes the drink mix and keeps it at the correct frozen state. The wiper, which protrudes through the back of the cylinder, attaches to the motor through a belt drive. This belt drive assembly reduces the vibration of the wiper in the cylinder. It also keeps the motor from seizing if the drink gets too frozen for some reason, or the wiper is constricted.

The Motor and Compressor

The motor and compressor reside below the freezer barrel. They provide the required power to keep the frozen drink at the correct temperature for the dispensing needs of the unit. Since there are various combinations of motor and compressor available, you should work with your designer to specify the correct dispensing amount for your establishment. Once completed, you can then choose the correct combination needed and choose the appropriate unit for your needs.

Compressor / motor combinations range from 1/4 HP drive motors with 3/4 HP compressors and up. So you should pick the size that will allow the hourly flow of product you expect to serve at your peak usage hour. For more information on available options click here.

The compressor and motor combinations are typically specified to allow the product to freeze within 60 minutes and maintain a frozen product, regardless of dispensing speed and flow. The storage hopper automatically replenishes the liquid dispensed from the refrigerated barrel so only a small amount of liquid must be frozen at any given time. Carburetors on the unit allow for different thickness of drink, based on the needs of the establishment or type of drink dispensed.

The units are very robust and reliable and require minimum daily, weekly, and annual maintenance. One thing to observe is the ventilation needs of the unit you choose. Most units need a minimum of six inches on each side for optimal function. However, different venting options may change the required venting space required.

Additionally, some manufacturers offer water-cooled units that may be spaced closer together. If the unit is having a difficult time maintaining a frozen mix, then check the voltage or venting. If either is not optimal, then you will have issues. Additionally, never use an extension cord to power a unit.

Additional Accessories

Drink Spinner

Additional accessories available for barrel freezers include front mounted spinners for mixing additional drink options, different filter and venting options, four inch tall feet to raise the unit off the counter, and a variety of signage for the front of the machines.

These “Box Style” barrel freezers (sometimes referred to as beverage freezers) make excellent margarita machines, frozen fruit drink machines, frozen cappuccino / latte machines and frozen slush machines. If you need help determining your needs, then please contact our sales team to help you determine the correct machine, discuss installation, and / or set up a performance maintenance schedule.

Contact RSI for all your commercial refrigeration needs.

Phone: 972-279-3800
Toll-Free: 888-TOO-WARM
Service Email: