The sameness of everything is wearing us all down. Wake up. Pull on sweatpants (or maybe one of these ridiculous onesies: a button-down shirt attached to sweatpants). Open your laptop. Zoom. Repeat. I’ve taken to moving my laptop from the office to the dining room table to the kitchen, sometimes pretending that I’m sitting in a coffee shop instead of in the same house I’ve been in for …. Ever…
Across much of the country, bars are restricted or closed and the number of people you can have at an indoor gathering is tightly constrained. So there’s no chatting with your local mixologist – and if you’re having a micro-wedding or other sanctioned gathering, for example, hiring a bartender may mean there isn’t room for Uncle Pete… which might be okay.
When the Bartesian cocktail machine launched a while back, I have to admit I didn’t really see the point. I had recently ditched my Keurig for a pour-over coffee set up, and if I wanted a fancy cocktail, there are several places within walking distance of my home that are happy to oblige.
But now, having an automated cocktail dispenser sitting on my counter makes a whole world of sense. Feeling like a Lemon Drop? Push a button. Want an Old Fashioned after dinner? Push a button. With an extension cord, you can even set the Bartesian up outside to cater a socially distanced micro family gathering.
Here are five things to think about when considering a Bartesian, or any other home cocktail machine.
The capsules: You need Bartesian capsules to make a drink. They are bar-coded so the machine knows which liquor to use – it will automatically choose tequila for a margarita and vodka for a lemon drop. If you want to mix things up, you can stick the rum bottle in slot labeled vodka to see how a rum lemon drop would taste (spoiler alert: I think it’s pretty good). Just remember to swap them back after, because you might not enjoy a Cosmo with rum (or maybe you would?) Capsules cost about $15 for 6, and new flavors are being introduced frequently. For example, an eight-pack of capsules for the holidays includes two each of Spiced Coffee, Clausmopolitan, Holiday Spiced Old Fashioned, and Apple Pie.
The spirits: You provide the alcohol with the Bartesian -and you get what you put in. So using craft spirits will naturally mean you get a much better drink. You’ve invested in the machine (which retails for $349) – don’t skimp on the booze.
The strength: One of the things I really like about Bartesian is you can make a mocktail, a weak drink, a normal drink or a strong one, making it easier to cut back on your pandemic drinking. Or ramp it up when desirable.
The expectations: These pods will never be able to replicate what an expert mixologist can do with fresh ingredients. They are shelf-stable approximations of all the items that go into a cocktail. So you don’t need a bar cart full of special bitters, sugar syrup, and whatever juices and other ingredients to make your drink. The trade-off is that the drinks don’t sing the way a bright Gimlet made with fresh lime juice would, for example. To improve your experience, add a garnish where appropriate. A sprig of mint or a twist of citrus goes a long way in amping up the quality.
The footprint: The Bartesian is about a foot square, and just about as tall with the bottles in place. Setting it up isn’t difficult, but realistically this isn’t something you’ll be putting away every day to pull out at happy hour. So think about counter space and whether on-demand cocktails deserve valuable real estate in your kitchen.