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- The Bartesian is like a Keurig for cocktails — it uses mixer pods to make quality drinks in mere seconds.
- You use your own preferred spirits, and the pod mixers range from margaritas to espresso martinis.
- The machine is super easy to use and allows you to customize the strength of your drink.
Going out for drinks is fun and all — but trying to flag down your bartender for a second round, and shelling out $12 per drink? Not so much. That's where the Bartesian comes in: this intelligent machine allows you to make premium drinks right at home with the push of a button.
The Bartesian uses pods to make the cocktails, but these only contain the mixers and don't have any alcohol in them. After you insert the pod, the machine mixes the contents with water from the reservoir and whatever spirit is required from the attached bottles to produce the cocktail. You place a glass under the dispenser and select how strong you want the drink, and the Bartesian does the rest.
I'm not exactly a pro mixologist — but I'm not a novice, either. I was curious how this machine would compare to a traditional cocktail-making experience, so I chose four different drinks to test out with the Bartesian. Here's how it went.
The Bartesian is like a Keurig for cocktails
If you've ever had a Keurig or Nespresso machine, the process of setting up and using the Bartesian should feel super intuitive — not only does the machine look similar, but making a drink entails inserting a pod, lowering the handle, and pressing down firmly.
The base of the machine and dispenser came already assembled. All I had to do was fill up the water reservoir in the back of the machine, fill each of the glass bottles with different spirits, and then place them upside-down in their labeled slots. Once I plugged in the power cord, I was good to go.
The machine comes with five spirit bottles for vodka, tequila, whiskey, rum, and gin. However, the base of the machine only has four slots. That's because the gin and rum share the same holder — so, if one of these spirits is needed, the machine will always alert you to check if the correct spirit is in the holder, in case you need to swap it out.
One feature I really appreciated is the rubber bar mat on the base of the machine, which keeps your glassware securely in place while the Bartesian is doing its thing.
I inserted the espresso martini cocktail capsule and the machine became my personal bartender
The first step to using the Bartesian is placing a cocktail glass on the bar mat. When you insert the capsule into the holder, make sure the tab is facing toward you. Then, lower the handle and press down until the latch clicks into place.
The machine can immediately identify what cocktail you're making by the barcode on the capsule. Once it does, it'll recommend the proper glassware on the touchscreen.
For example, it suggested a lowball glass filled with ice for my mango margarita and a shaker with ice for the raspberry gimlet. The touchscreen will then display four different alcohol strength options for your drink: mocktail, light (1.4 ounces of liquor), regular (2 ounces), or strong (3.4 ounces). You touch the desired strength, press "mix," and the machine will dispense your cocktail in about 15-20 seconds. Trust me: watching this part is exciting. If you have guests over, they'll probably crowd around to ooh and ahh.
After the drink is complete, you just lift the handle and remove the capsule before making your next drink.
Cleaning the Bartesian is simple, too. After unplugging the machine and removing the bar mat and water reservoir, you can wipe the surface with a damp cloth or sponge, followed by a dry, clean cloth. The bar mat and water reservoir can be washed with dish soap and hot water, and then air-dried.
You probably don't need to clean the machine after every single use, unless there's spillage on the mat or in the capsule holder. However, you do need to discard any water left in the reservoir after you're done using it for the day or night — and then replace it with fresh water next time you use it.
From a cosmopolitan to a long island iced tea, the Bartesian has over 30 capsules
The Bartesian offers over 30 different cocktail options, from classics like mai tais and margaritas to more unique offerings like the tropical Jungle Bird Tiki drink and the violet-tinged Aviation. They also offer low-cal versions of the margarita, whiskey sour, and cosmopolitan. Capsules are sold separately in boxes of eight ($19.99) or 32 ($71.99).
I tested four different cocktails with the Bartesian, including:
I made these cocktails at different strengths to get a sense of the range: mocktail for the raspberry gimlet, light for the lemon drop, regular for the espresso martini, and strong for the mango margarita.
In my experience, the "regular" setting tasted somewhat strong, so I'd suggest starting with the light setting and increasing the strength from there.
Here's how each of the cocktails I tried came out
I was a little worried that the pods would be overly sweet — like those pre-made mixers you can find at your local liquor store that are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. But that was definitely not the case. They're made with real fruit juices, natural flavors, and just enough cane sugar, and the quality of the ingredients really shows. They may not have quite the depth of flavor that you'd get with a handcrafted cocktail that features freshly muddled herbs and fruits, but that's the trade-off you make for the convenience factor.
Here are some tasting notes from each cocktail I tried:
Raspberry ginger gimlet: Since I'm not a gin drinker, and my fiance doesn't drink alcohol, we decided to try this brand new flavor as a mocktail. The ginger added some subtle zingy spice that complemented the sweetness of the raspberry nicely. There wasn't a ton of complexity here, but I'd imagine that's where the gin makes a big difference — the botanicals probably round out the flavor profile nicely.
Espresso martini: This happens to be my all-time favorite drink — so I can be a pretty harsh critic. But I was impressed with the smoothness and drinkability of this one and could taste some subtle hints of vanilla under all the roasty toasty notes of the espresso. Since I tend to like my espresso martinis on the creamy side, I topped it off with some frothed oat milk and a dash of espresso powder.
Lemon drop: This one goes down dangerously easy. With just enough citrusy tartness to balance the sweetness, you can barely taste the vodka underneath. While I didn't think of it at the time of making it, this one would probably work well as a shot — using the strong setting, you can make four to five of them at a time.
Mango margarita: You have to love mango to enjoy this one, as the fruit flavors are pretty strong — that said, it's delicious. This one leaned a little sweeter than the others, too, but the lime juice adds some zippy tartness to help offset that. If you like your margs spicy, I'd try this one with muddled jalapeños or a Tajín lime-chili rim.
Cons to consider
There's not much I didn't love about the Bartesian. That said, here are some potential cons to keep in mind.
First, don't make my mistake and lock in the capsule before placing any glassware underneath. I did this because I knew the touchscreen would be advising me on which type of glass to use, and whether or not to include ice. The problem is, once you lock the capsule into place, a few drops of the capsule contents will drip down on the bar mat. It's not a big deal to wipe down the bar mat, but you may want to place your preferred glass down beforehand to avoid any messes.
Also, the machine takes up about 13 square inches, so if you're low on counter space like us, that's something to consider.
Keep in mind that you're paying about $2.50 per drink (not including the cost of the machine) — that may be less that the cost of a complicated cocktail, but it's likely more expensive than, say, a rum and coke or vodka soda.
What are your alternatives?
The Bartesian is a pretty innovative device — you won't find many alternatives.
The closest option is probably the Bev by Black & Decker, which is a little less sleek looking than the Bartesian. The Bev doesn't come with any special containers to hold the spirits. Instead, you insert one of the stainless steel straws attached to the machine into the liquor bottle of your choice and pop in a mixer pod. Like the Bartesian, the Bev can identify the barcodes on the drink capsules and allows you to customize your drink strength. It retails for $299.
The bottom line
The Bartesian is not only easy to set up and use, but it makes quality cocktails. While I haven't busted it out for a party just yet, I can definitely see this coming in handy for entertaining — because you can whip up multiple drinks for guests in a matter of seconds.
These drinks may not boast quite the same complexity and nuance that you'd get from a handcrafted cocktail, but they're still super tasty. And let's be honest: squeezing fruit juice and muddling fresh herbs can be messy and time-consuming. Not to mention, the same drink at a cocktail bar might set you back $10-15, and buying all the ingredients to make it at home could be even more expensive — whereas the Bartesian pods only cost $2.50.
For the casual drinker, I'd say the Bartesian is a convenient, cost-effective way to get your cocktail fix — and you don't even have to compromise much in the way of taste.
Pros: Easy to set up, use, and clean; no need to invest in specialized mixers like bitters, liqueurs, or agave nectar; can use your preferred liquor brands; able to control the strength of your drink; no artificial flavors or colors in mixer pods; capsules are recyclable
Cons: Pricey ($369.95), takes up potentially valuable counter space, can't customize the sweetness or other aspects of the drink, mixer pods cost $2.50 each
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