“The Bartesian is pretty foolproof to use, as it should be. After all, who wants to work hard to make a cocktail?”
- Makes delicious drinks fast
- Uses your own alcohol
- Capsules are recyclable
- Easy to use
- Lots of settings for alcohol strength
- A little bulky in size
- Pricey cost
One thing the pandemic taught us is that we miss our craft cocktails. Sure, anyone can pour some booze and soda water or tonic in a glass over ice, but to make a proper Manhattan … now that takes some skill. Enter the $350 Bartesian home bar, which serves up premium cocktails on demand and is one of the many home bar systems that aim to bring the bartender to the home. Bartesian provides the mixers, you supply the spirits, and there’s no mobile app, which is something this reviewer can get behind. I mean, who wants to fiddle with a phone to make a drink?
We wouldn’t call the Bartesian sleek, but it looks more like a bar than some of the other connected home bar machines we’ve seen. The base features a legit bar mat, where you place a glass when making a cocktail, and there are two circles on either side of the dispenser system that hold the spirit bottles. Each section is labeled with the type of alcohol it accepts — there are dedicated spots on the machine for whiskey, tequila, and vodka, while rum and gin share a holder. You just place the filled bottle with the cover that says vodka in the vodka bottle holder.
If you’re making a drink that requires one of those spirits, you swap out the bottles, which is as easy as it sounds. The manual suggests removing the liquor from the bottles if you’re not going to use the machine for a while. We placed tape on the bottles to see how much evaporation might occur if you don’t remove the alcohol from the bottles, and after a couple of weeks there was no change. So don’t feel like you need to drain the spirits into their original bottle or another canister.
The base of the machine houses the water tank and the dispenser, which is where you place the mixer capsules. The capsules work in the same was they would in a Keurig-style machine. The good news is that the capsules are recyclable. A full water tank holds enough water to make about 20 cocktails. When you’re done using the machine and don’t plan to use it again for a few days, you should replace the water. There’s no water filter, so it’s best to use filtered water in the tank so the drinks taste as intended.
The only better alternative is living with a bartender.
The Bartesian measures 14.5 inches high, 15.75 inches wide, and 15.5 inches deep, and it and weighs 13 pounds, making it easy to move around until you find a home for it. We appreciate that the machine was so lightweight — especially compared to the Drinkworks Home Bar, which weighs close to 30 pounds. That’s not to say that the Bartesian isn’t a bit bulky — it still takes up quite a bit of space on a counter, but it’s easy enough to move. If you have a dedicated bar at home, you should have no problem placing the unit there.
The alcohol-free capsules containing the mixers are made up of real ingredients. For example, the mango margarita mix consists of water, sugar, clarified mango juice concentrate, natural flavors, and citric acid and preservation agents. You can tell the difference in the taste of the drink.
What we love about the Bartesian is that there really isn’t anything complicated about it — from setup to use. Fill the bottles with the appropriate spirit and place them in the right holder. Add water and place a capsule in the dispenser, then pull down, wait to hear the click, and let the machine create a cocktail in mere seconds. It really is that easy.
When you place a capsule in the dispenser and pull down, the Bartesian immediately recognizes it and asks how you would like your cocktail: Mocktail, light, regular, or strong. Make a selection and press mix on the touchscreen display. We should mention that once the capsule is pierced, there’s no turning back — meaning, it either makes the cocktail or you forfeit the mixture. This type of behavior is quite common on any pod-like machine. The good news is that it’s pretty difficult to put the capsules in the unit incorrectly.
We loaded the bottles with middle-shelf spirits (Beefeater gin, Old Grand-Dad bourbon, Russian Standard Vodka, and Bacardi rum) and gathered the same group of testers that tried the Drinkworks machine to see what they thought.
There are over 30 cocktails available and some quite fancy; I’m talking to you, Witch’s Heart and Rhubarb Spice Shrub. Of course, there are some classic throwbacks like Sex on the Beach, Kamikaze, and Mai Tai, as well as low-calorie versions of mainstays like a Cosmopolitan, margarita, and whiskey sour. The capsules come in packages ranging from six ($15) to 36 ($80), making the price of each capsule between $2 and $2.50 depending on the package you buy. The company also offers a monthly subscription service, which saves you even more.
In our tests, we made a variety of cocktails: Mango margarita, regular margarita, Long Island iced tea, Boulevardier, and an old-fashioned. All of our skeptical taste testers had the same response: “These actually taste like cocktails and pretty good, too.” They could definitely tell when we poured them a “strong” drink.
We also did make a few mocktails, which were quite good as well. However, we expected the water to compensate for the lack of alcohol and that’s simply not the case. The Bartesian still mixes the capsule with some water and dispenses it in the glass, but that’s all it does. It’s up to you to add the rest. In some instances, we added a splash of soda water and others just more water. We might get a little wild and add lemonade. They were still a lovely way to have a fun beverage in a cocktail glass.
There’s a lot to like about the Bartesian, and it seems to sit in the sweet spot of the automated cocktail makers currently available. We do appreciate that the machine is so incredibly easy to use and mixes delicious drinks incredibly fast. We’re excited to see what other mixes the company has in store for us.
Is there a better alternative?
Given the $350 price point and what’s currently available on the market, the only better alternative is living with a bartender.
How long will it last?
There’s no information on how long the Bartesian will last. After all, home bars are a new class of product. However, it comes with a one-year warranty that covers defects. It’s worth mentioning, though, that the boxes containing the capsules do have a best-by date — which is less than a year.
Should you buy it?
The Bartesian costs $350, which is not cheap. This type of product isn’t for everyone. If you are in the market for a machine that makes solid cocktails using the spirit of your choice, then it’s currently the best one for the money. It’s also pretty foolproof to use, which we appreciate. Who wants to work hard to make a cocktail?