Bottom line: The Bartesian pours great-tasting drinks with minimal effort. You get to use your favorite brand of spirits paired with some quality mixing ingredients to produce a cocktail at the strength you desire. The only thing truly missing is pre-chilled water.
- You get to choose your preferred brand of spirits
- Customize the strength of your cocktail
- There's a good variety of drinks to choose from
- Upkeep of the machine is very easy
- Making drinks if very simple
- The plastic on the machine feels a bit cheap for the price
- Sometimes, the drink stream makes a mess
- The capsules can get expensive
When the opportunity came to do a Bartesian review, I was more than willing. I enjoy a nice cocktail as much as the next person, and this device would pair nicely with my smart home build. I don't always want to physically make my cocktail, and not everyone knows how to create the beverage or has all the ingredients on hand. There are many reasons you wouldn't have the desire to maintain a fully stocked bar, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't like to have your favorite drink on-demand.
In our current times of spending far more time at home than going to our favorite restaurant or drinking establishment, access to that elusive favorite spirit-based beverage is mostly out of the question. So, unless you plan to take up bartending or mixology, the perfect solution to the issue is the Bartesian — or so the company behind the product believes. As a whole, it's not entirely wrong, and in most cases, it's right.
The Bartesian is a cocktail maker that allows you to make some of your favorite cocktails and mixed drinks at home without the need to keep a ton of ingredients on hand. All you need is a place to plug in the machine, your preferred brand of the base spirits, a glass, ice, and maybe a cocktail shaker if you really want to go for it. For the most part, the Bartesian delivers on its promise.
Custom, simple, and tasty
Bartesian What is it?
I've always liked the idea of mixology and bartending, though I never have officially been either — however, I do have a shirt from some college friends that says otherwise. I'm drawn to the idea that making myself a drink from a range of ingredients, flavors, colors, and consistency to produce a potentially mood-altering experience. The Bartesian removes part of that experience, while still giving you a flavorful drink.
Being the drink maker for your friends can get exhausting, and you rarely get to relax. Hosting a party usually means spending the entire time running around trying to make sure everything is going perfectly and all your guests are happy. To have a machine that can take the weight off of making some of the essential classic cocktails is excellent.
The Bartesian is a machine in a similar vein to a Kuerig coffee maker, who makes a cocktail machine too. You pick from a growing variety of mixer capsules based around five base spirits: gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskey. The capsules are filled with the bitters, extracts, non-alcoholic liqueurs, and juice concentrates needed to create the beverage of choice.
|Dimensions||12.5 x 12.75 x 12.25-Inches|
|Cocktail Mix||Capsules with bitters, extracts, juices, non-alcoholic liqueurs|
|Customizability||Different drink strengths|
|Cocktail Subscription Option||Yes|
The product itself looks great. The outward appearance is something that most people wouldn't be ashamed to have sitting on the counter or at your home bar. The matte grey finish, the chrome handle for the lid, and four crystal-clear bottles for liquors all come together for a sleek modern style.
There are up to four spirits installed at a time; gin and rum share a spot and swap out as needed. You can fill each bottle with your preferred brand of spirit, as well as filling up the water reservoir, which is used to dilute the concentrated ingredients inside the capsule. After this, making a drink with Bartesian is straightforward.
Open the lid and place the capsule for your desired drink into the device. The Bartesian has a bar code scanner that reads the code on the foil lid. Each code tells the machine what the cocktail is, which determines the recommended glass, what spirit is needed, and the amount of spirit necessary for each drink strength.
Yes, you read that right, you get to choose how strong of a drink you get. The levels go from a mocktail (no alcohol), light, regular, to strong. This means that anyone of age — or not, if you trust them to pick a mocktail — can get a drink from this machine. You can take things to another level and experiment with using flavored liquors in your cocktails as well for a new twist on a classic if you want.
When you need to change out liquor or refill one, the machine's settings menu has an option for such occasion. This purges the line of that liquor so that it's clear and won't influence the next drink from that well, or in the case of a refill, not make a mess when removing the bottle. Speaking of not affecting the next cocktail, after each drink is made, the machine cleans out the disbursement area so that each drink tastes as expected. Basically, this means that your Old Fashioned won't taste like the Cosmo made before.
Bartestian What drinks can it make
The quality of any cocktail is dependent on a few basic things: the quality of the spirits and mixers used, and the amounts used in the mix. The Bartesian controls all of these things for you, except for liquor — that's on you.
As mentioned previously, each cocktail that the Bartesian makes is delivered in capsule form. Every capsule contains exact measurements of each ingredient to make the cocktail of choice, apart from the base spirits. From the juice concentrates to the extracts used, the mixologists at Bartesian have taken the time to ensure each time you make a Negroni, it tastes exactly the same. However, this also means you're reliant on Bartesian to offer a capsule for the drink you're after, so you might be out of luck for lesser-known cocktails. Here are the cocktail capsules available right now:
- Gin Martini
- Uptown Rocks
- Matcha Martini
- Sex on the Beach
- Lemon Drop
- Low-cal Cosmopolitan
- Ginger Peach Iced Tea
- Rum Breeze
- Mai Tai
- Rhubarb Spice Shrub
- Spiced Coffee
- Jalapeno Lime Shrub
- Spicy Margarita
- Old Fashioned
- Whiskey Sour
- Mint Julep
- Paper Plane
- Whiskey Smash
- Low-cal Whiskey Sour
Contains multiple spirits
- Long island
- Rob Roy
In my time testing out the Bartestian with my wife and a few friends and family, the overall consensus was that all the drinks tried were delicious. I have a relatively stocked home bar and carry ingredients to make many of the drink options from Bartesian, and mostly I enjoyed the options provided.
The only drink I didn't personally enjoy was the Manhattan, one of my all-time favorite cocktails. The version from Bartestain has a stronger cherry note to it than I like. Other than this single instance, all of the drinks were great.
You can purchase the capsules through Amazon (opens in new tab) and from the Bartiesian website directly, which also offers a monthly subscription for 18 capsules. While you can buy capsule sets from other retailers, when getting them from Bartesian, you get to mix and match however you want.
Bartesian says that it is always experimenting and working on expanding the catalog of drinks that are offered. They even welcome customers to send in suggestions for drinks that they would like to see added.
Bartesian What I don't like
As the saying goes, "not everything that glitter is gold," and in this case, not everything silver is metal. One of my biggest complaints with the Bartestian is the build quality. Nearly every part of the machine that the operator interacts with is a not particularly sturdy-feeling plastic.
For a machine that costs as much as this one does, I want it to feel like it can withstand a bit of the abuse that it may take from multiple people using it at a party. Outside of the bottles and their lids, the rest feels a bit lackluster. Now, this isn't a machine that you will be carrying around with you and operating all day, but it could still be better.
Opening the lid to insert your drink capsule is creaky and a bit herky-jerky. But it's when closing the lid onto the capsule that really makes me leary for this machine's longevity. Everything seems to twist and groan as you click the lid closed to puncture the capsule. The Bartesian may last years, but the sounds it makes even when new are a bit concerning.
From time to time, when making a drink, the stream coming from the machine would get a bit hectic, and if using a shorter style glass would cause a bit of overspray. A couple of different problems could cause this. Either the capsule didn't get properly seated, or the area that the drink comes out of may have had some residue from a previous drink. So it's good to wipe down that area when done with the Bartesian for the night.
The last thing on my list of grievances is the cost of the capsules. A six-pack is $15 per set, so you are looking at $2.50 per mixer and then whatever your cost is for the liquor. There's also an eighteen-pack option for $43 per set, making the cost a little less at $2.39 a mix. While not extremely expensive, I would like to see a better price break on bulk purchases.
In terms of at-home cocktail makers, there aren't a ton of options. However, those that are in the space offer some very compelling features setting each apart. The closest comparison to the Bartesian is the Drinkworks from the makers of Keruig, coming in at about $300 (opens in new tab).
Drinkworks features the expected pod system, given its lineage. The most significant difference is that the pods contain not only the mixers but also alcohol. From a simplicity standpoint, this is great. When you want a drink, all you have to do is provide that glass to drink from and the water to fill the reservoir with, and you're ready to drink. The downside is you can't pick the brand of liquor or the strength of each drink.
Another differentiator for Drinkworks is that it can chill the water before it comes out. It's unclear if the Bartesian considers dilution for ice melting or not, but the Drinkworks doesn't need to account for that. You also have the option for bubbles with Drinksworks because it also has a place for a CO2 cartridge.
On the high-end of cocktail makers is the Barsys 2.0 (opens in new tab), priced a whopping $979. This is a very impressive machine with a spot for up to five liquor bottles and three canisters of mixers. There are no pods to this machine, as it is entirely operated via its app. You calibrate the Barsys to what each liquor is and the bottle size and tell it what mixers are in the canisters.
Using the app, you pick recipes that use what you have installed into the machine, and the illuminated conveyor belt moves your glass to the appropriate liquor. The device then disburses the exact amount of each spirit and mix to create your drink. You can queue up multiple drinks, even create and save custom drinks with the app.
Bartesian Should you buy?
You should buy this if ...
You enjoy a mixed drink or cocktail
Perhaps whiskey on the rocks or a glass of wine isn't your thing, or you like to mix it up from time to time — a well-balanced cocktail is just the trick. However, making the drink can be a hassle or something you really don't feel comfortable doing. The Bartesian takes all of the guesswork out of getting that perfect cocktail.
You like trying new things
Maintaining a fully stocked bar can be time-consuming, take up a lot of space, potentially wasteful, and not to mention expensive. If you want to try out new drinks but not invest in the supplies to make all of these different drinks, you'll love the Bartesian. With its growing variety of cocktails, you can try drinks you usually wouldn't. My wife learned she like gin while we were testing out the machine.
You have preferences as to how you like your cocktail
The ability to choose the liquors' brand and style in each cocktail you make are important to some people. If you prefer Jack over Jim, or Patron over Jose, you can do that with Bartesian. Not only do you get control over the exact style of the spirit used, but also the quantity. I like my drinks strong, and my wife prefers hers on the lighter side. We get that flexibility with the Bartesian.
You should not buy this if ...
You don't care about the type of liquor used
If you can't tell the difference from one vodka to the next, then something you may be more tempted by the Drinkworks machine. With the all-in-one approach to its drink pods, you don't have to mess with refilling the liquor bottles or purchasing them at all. You get the mixers and liquor in a convenient package to pop into the machine and push start. It also makes transportation easier when you don't have to haul bottles of booze.
You want a drink with bubbles
As of this review, the Bartesian does not have any drinks in its catalog that are carbonated. While this may change, if you like something like a mojito that has a bit of club soda, you're out of luck with the Bartesian. Sometimes adding a bit of fizz can really take a cocktail to another level. Maybe I'd like an Old Fashioned with some bubbles.
You want to customize the mixers
As I mentioned in my critique of the Manhattan offered by Bartesian, the recipe is what it is when you buy a capsule. Yes, you can alter the strength and liquor used, but the mix's flavors are predetermined. I enjoy experimenting with flavors in my drinks, and while I do enjoy a classic cocktail, the option to put a twist on it is fun, too.
In the end, if you want to enjoy a well-balanced cocktail using your favorite spirits, then the Bartesian is a great choice. You get to change up the liquors used if you want and make the drinks more robust or weaker as needed. However, if you don't want to fuss with bottles of alcohol and want an even more simplified approach to your drinks, then there's an option for you in the Drinkworks.
4 out of 5
The Bartesian is a fun product to have if you like a mixed drink or cocktail from time to time. I have my preferences regarding how I want my drink made and what goes into it, and the Bartesian strikes a nice balance of those things. There's enough flexibility that I can change things up a bit if I want. It also provides a straightforward enough process that someone like my wife, who wants to push a button and to pour a drink, can enjoy it.
I would like the machine itself to be a bit more solidly built for the price. The creaky plastic and older style TFT touchscreen are a bit of a downer for me. As the cocktail list expands, the company can also find a better pricing structure for bulk capsule purchases because, depending on the use case, the capsules can get expensive.
Outside of some small issues, I really like the Bartesian. Watching the bubbles going up the liquor bottles as it pulls the booze while mixing a cocktail is just plain fun. The excitement that guests get when they watch it make their drink is almost as entertaining as the party.
How lazy and incompetent can one be to have one of these
I mean, lots of people have coffee machines.
The restaurant I work at has a machine very much like this only for making various hot teas and specialty coffees. Pretty cool and at $3.79 to $4.50 per cup I suppose it has paid for itself many times over.
It says there's a gin Martini, but if there's no alcohol in the capsules, where does the vermouth come from?
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