Varsity Hotel’s Versatile Ice Choices

29th of July 2016

Popular, boutique Cambridge venue uses both Scotsman supercubes and Scotsman nugget ice

The two Scotsman icemakers at The Varsity HotelMore and more operators are looking for speciality ice that suits their specific application.  The Varsity Hotel in Cambridge has ordered two very different Scotsman models – a gourmet supercube machine and a nugget icemaker, each of which is set to fulfil specific and very different functions. 

The Varsity Hotel and Spa is a chic, boutique 46-bedroom hotel right in the heart of Cambridge. It’s popular with tourists, locals and visiting celebrities (Daniel Craig and Rachael Weisz stayed recently). A stunning roof terrace overlooking the city seats 100 for drinks and a barbecue menu. In the former bonded warehouse next door there’s a 75-cover steak house and cocktail bar overlooking the river, which is also very busy. Recently the hotel opened a brand new, 145-cover restaurant, SIX, on the sixth floor, which offers 360° views over Cambridge. It serves wood-fired pizza, rotisserie chicken and Ottolenghi-style small plates. It also features a large bar, specialising in gins.

Always full over the weekend, and getting close to capacity during the week, business is booming and with the popularity of the bars increasing the demand for ice, The Varsity needed to upgrade its ice machines. Director Will Davies visited the Hubbard Systems stand at Hotelympia 2016 and saw the new Scotsman MXG range of modular icemakers, which produce gourmet supercubes – the ideal ice cubes for upmarket G&Ts. He was so impressed he ordered one on the spot, and subsequently ordered a second modular Scotsman machine, this time the new N 0622, which produces nugget ice that The Varsity uses in cocktails.

“The Scotsman MXG makes very clear, regularly-shaped gourmet supercube ice cubes,” says Will.  “Presentation is really important at The Varsity, especially for gin and tonics where a lot of the ice will be clear of the drink and on show.  However, what made the MXG stand out is the amount it makes per hour. It’s a relatively small footprint machine but it produces loads of ice and helps us keep up with over one thousand covers per day.”

The MXG at The Varsity Hotel is one of the larger models in the range, the 638, which is mounted on a SB 393 ice cube storage bin. The MXG 638 makes up to 340kg of ice per day, or about 17,000 gourmet supercubes. The SB 393 will store up to 181kg of ice. The footprint of the whole system is just 769mm wide by 850mm deep.

The Varsity’s various bars offer a huge a variety of drinks. “The rooftop has some signature drinks such as The Summer G&T, with Cambridge Gin and fresh strawberries, and plenty of Pimms cocktails.  SIX on the floor below specialises in gins, stocking over 30 types and matching them with different tonics and garnishes to create very bespoke drinks.  The River Bar Steakhouse and Grill offers some great cocktails.  We also do events here, such as a gin food pairing, with gin-infused sauces for the food as well as gin sorbets, together with specific gin cocktails between courses.”

While the gourmet supercube is perfect for presentation, it’s not the best ice for blending cocktails – which is where the new Scotsman nugget ice machine comes in. “It’s a very versatile ice – we can even use it instead of crushed ice in the cocktails,” says Will.

Nugget ice is made of compacted flake ice. It’s very dry, so unlike flake or granular ice it won’t water down cocktails. It’s also blender-friendly: a relatively soft ice, the blades can break it up easily and more quietly then harder cubes, such as the supercube.

The Scotsman N 0622 nugget ice maker at The Varsity is mounted on a FOL-300 ice storage bin. With an operational footprint amongst the smallest on the market, the N 0622 is packed with energy- and water-saving features – nugget is amongst the ‘greenest’ ice since so little water is wasted in production, compared to making other ice types. The system produces up to 266kg of nugget ice per day, while the storage bin will hold up to 136kg. The bin’s footprint is 559mm by 801mm.

Will has been very impressed with the support from Hubbard Systems, which markets the Scotsman range in the UK. “It’s been first class. We had one of the newest machines in the country and it had a few teething problems, as is normal with any brand new product, but these were ironed out very quickly and the same engineer came back to deal with things, so maintaining continuity. I’ve also been impressed with the way you can go to Hubbard for advice and information; they’ve been very quick to respond.”

The Scotsman machines were supplied through Reeder Refrigeration of Ipswich.

For more on The Varsity Hotel visit