Pros: Makes perfect frozen drinks & sno-cones; easy to use; excellent quality; glass pitcher/jar; appearance
Cons: Pricey; loud; big; heavy - but worth the price, noise, space and weight
I love strawberry daiquiris, slushies and sno-cones. In general, I love cold drinks with shaved or pulverized ice in them and could, if I had time, consume three or four trays of ice cubes per day. I've struggled with regular blenders that leave huge pieces of ice in my drinks and have had awful experiences with several ice-shaving machines that take ten minutes to make one tablespoon of shaved ice.
I'd seen the "original" version of the Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker on QVC and have always wanted it - but we don't have parties and rarely have guests over, so I always felt like I didn't "need" one just to make frozen drinks for myself. My boyfriend isn't even a big fan of frozen drinks. However, on May 4th of this year, I was watching QVC and heard the show host say that they would have a Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker as the "Today's Special Value" at midnight in celebration of Cinco de Mayo the next day. I decided to check it out at midnight even though I figured this item is more for a crowd than it is for one or two people.
The Margaritaville "Fiji" Frozen Concoction Maker is a blender and drink maker in one. It shaves and pulverizes ice to make perfect frozen daiquiris, margaritas, slides, smoothies and shaved ice for sno-cones (or whatever you have in mind). It has four pre-programmed drink settings (I will get to those later in this review) along with a "shave & blend" setting and a "shave only" setting (for sno-cones).
This machine is big and heavy. It weighs probably 20 pounds (I haven't weighed it, though). It's stately and doesn't have a small footprint! It stands 19" high (including the ice compartment on top), 9" wide and 14" deep. The main housing is made from brushed nickel plastic and metal, with polished stainless steel accents. The control panel is made from embossed stainless steel. The accents all have a nautical theme. It comes with a blender jar/pitcher made of glass.
The ice compartment or "reservoir" holds enough ice to make two and a half pitchers of drinks. This is at least two ice cube trays' worth.
This machine really is a snap to clean. The only thing you are really actually cleaning is the blender jar/pitcher and the water reservoir. I usually just rinse out the ice compartment lid and the water reservoir and absorb any melted ice or drips that may have spilled on the machine with a paper towel. I dust it regularly since it sits out. There really isn't anything else to clean.
The Margaritaville "Fiji" Frozen Concoction Maker comes with a 1 year limited warranty.
My machine also came with a party guide, instruction booklet, quick start guide, mail-in coupon for a free pitcher, drink charms, salt tray and Margaritaville-themed coasters.
So at midnight on May 5, I listened to and carefully watched the presentation of the Margaritaville "Fiji" Frozen Concoction Maker, which is model number DM2000. Either QVC or the Margaritaville people call this the "Fiji" model, which is supposed to be a little more of a higher end version of the single-pitcher/jar Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Makers and with a larger ice compartment on the top. I had wanted one of the Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Makers for so long that it didn't take much to convince me to buy this machine, and I didn't care what "model" I got. Among the many things that pushed me off the fence: the gorgeous "brushed nickel" finish, the multiple settings, the five monthly payments of roughly $50, the 55-cent shipping and the included coupon for a free spare glass pitcher. Oh yes! That baby was mine! I ordered it and then explained to my boyfriend when he got home from work the next morning why I just had to have it. He thought it was a good idea for me to purchase this machine, because he knows that I've struggled with all of those other machines in my quest to make decent drinks at home - but he did think the price was insane.
So the UPS man plopped my Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker in a huge box on our front porch. I unpacked it and was amazed from the start at the great quality of this machine. It's stately, it's heavy, the pitcher is glass (not plastic) and there was a little pile of literature included (party guide, instruction booklet, quick start guide and mail-in coupon for a free pitcher).
I waited until the weekend to make my first couple of drinks. But first I went to the grocery store and stocked up on rum, vodka, Bacardi frozen drink mixers, strawberries, cream of coconut, orange juice and lime juice. And I made four trays of ice. For my first drink, I decided to make a limeade type of frozen drink and to throw in some cream of coconut. It wasn't even noon, so alcohol wasn't going to be in the picture. The first thing I did was to wash and dry any removable parts. Then I read the instruction booklet, which was super easy to read and follow. In fact, you almost don't need the instruction booklet. The second thing I did was take the power cord out of the neat cord compartment in the back of the machine and plug it in. Then I made sure I had plenty of ice in the top ice section.
The Margaritaville "Fiji" Frozen Concoction Maker has four settings - margarita, daiquiri, slides and smoothies. It turns out that my favorite setting is actually the smoothies setting. It really pulverizes the ice well and makes any drink with any ingredients more "drinkable". The daiquiri setting tends to make the ice more of a "snow" consistency and it's not as easy to drink.
The shaved ice that the Margaritaville "Fiji" Frozen Concoction Maker makes is beautiful. It comes out nice and "dry" - meaning that there is no water mixed in with the shaved ice - and it packs very nicely into a sno-cone paper cone and absorbs the sno-cone liquid well. I've only made two sno-cones so far, but they have turned out as good or better than the sno-cones you get at the county fair.
Getting back to that first drink I made - it was really good. Since then, I've experimented a lot with different drinks, and I almost always use the "smoothies" setting. I just keep going back to it again and again. When we have guests (rarely) and we are drinking daiquiris, I use the daiquiri setting because most people like their daiquiris to be made the way that a bar or restaurant makes them. And this powerful blender does make them just like that - dense, icy and without a single ice chip that is too big.
The one setting that I haven't used much is the slides setting. I'm not even sure what a "slide" is! So I tend to stick to the daiquiri and smoothie settings. I don't like margaritas (can you believe it?) so I don't use that setting much either. It seems like it's really close to the daiquri setting, and I can't really tell the difference!
You can make up to three drinks at a time. The machine has settings for one drink, two drinks or three drinks. However, you really can make as many drinks as you want if you use the "shave & blend" button. Hold this button down and it will shave ice while blending the ingredients in the pitcher until you release the button. Just put your liquid ingredients in the pitcher, load the ice compartment with as many ice cubes as you think you will need and hold down the "shave & blend" button.
The way that sno-cones are made with the Margaritaville "Fiji" Frozen Concoction Maker is to just load the ice compartment and hold down the "shave only" button. This will put out perfect - and I do mean perfect - shaved ice. It won't be watery and there won't be inconsistent, big ice pieces. Just remove the pitcher and put your sno-cone paper cone, bowl or cup under the spout to catch the shaved ice. It will produce shaved ice until you either run out of ice or until you let up on the "shave only" button. It doesn't make the shaved ice in "serving" sizes.
The Margaritaville "Fiji" Frozen Concoction Maker really is loud. It's distractingly and annoyingly loud. But it's worth it in the end. It doesn't take long to whip up several great drinks - just a minute or so. You can hear the machine going through the cycles of each drink setting. When it's done, your drink is nothing short of perfect. This machine has a removable water reservoir in the back that catches the water run-off from the big ice tray at the top. This prevents your drinks from getting watered down. After making 10+ drinks, it is about half full for me. So you will not have to empty it that often.
This machine has a couple of great features that I think are worth mentioning here. The power cord folds up and inserts into the back of the machine and there is a cover that goes over that, making it flush with the rest of the machine. That's a really nice little "extra" - I like not having a power cord dangling off the back. The blender jar/pitcher (which holds 36 oz.) is really great quality. You aren't pouring your guests' drinks from a cheap, flimsy, plastic pitcher. You're pouring them from a heavy, thick, glass pitcher with a good quality, heavy, flexible plastic lid. The fact that I have two of these pitchers is nice. I can serve from one pitcher and start the next batch of drinks immediately. The ice tray at the top of the machine is made from plastic, but again, it's not flimsy plastic. It removes and snaps back on easily.
A big portion of this machine is made from heavy plastic with a "brushed nickel" finish, but it looks like metal. It still has a stately appearance and commands respect and admiration from everyone who lays eyes on it. Everyone who comes in our house has one of these types of reactions: "Oooooh....what is that?" or "Oooooh....is that one of those Margaritaville machines?" People are amazed by it and they immediately want to stroke it lovingly. Of course, they are always excited to try a drink made from it. Everyone is always impressed by the great quality, perfect drinks that this machine makes.
Overall, I'm so incredibly happy to have my Margaritaville "Fiji" Frozen Concoction Maker. It has made every occasion more enjoyable. We will be taking it to my boyfriend's brother's house at Christmas this year. His brother, wife and her family are a big bunch of margarita drinkers, so they will love this machine. I'm glad I took the plunge and finally bought this machine! I highly recommend it for frozen alcoholic drink lovers or for families who like to make frozen lemonades or non-alcoholic drinks or sno-cones. It's expensive, but I think it's definitely worth the price.
Price and Purchasing Information:
The Margaritaville "Fiji" Frozen Concoction Maker can currnetly be purchased at QVC.com for $274 with a shipping cost of $16.22, at Amazon.com for $302.57 with free shipping or at Margaritaville.com for $349 with free shipping. I got mine as a "Today's Special Value" price of $249.35 from QVC in May 2009.