I have tried shaving just plain ice first and then adding liquids, but because this machine generates snow, the snow tends to melt before you get a chance to enjoy it."...generates snow..." That sounded like my machine, and at $20, what's to lose?
So we've had it for a little while now and I have to say that this looks to be our julep machine. I'll have to hand-pack the shavings a little harder next time, because they really do want to melt away when a beverage is poured on top. They are that light and fluffy.
We've also played around with freezing other things to shave. Best so far: coffee. It comes out much softer than granita, and goes a treat with Bailey's. Shave some coffee, add some Irish cream. Yum!
Although it will have limited use, it could turn out to be our best kitchen appliance since the convection toaster oven, which is even now about to be loaded with some cookies.
BTW: click the title of this blog to arrive at the Amazon page. It's the Hamilton Beach Snowman Ice Shaver.