Great to use your own spirits
$350 at Bartesian
$350 at Best Buy
- Use your favorite spirits
- Customizable drink strength
- Good variety of cocktails
- You need your own spirits
- Expensive capsules
- No mobile app
When it comes to at-home cocktail making machines, the Bartesian takes the cake. It works with a wide selection of cocktail capsules containing mixes for everything from classic drinks like margaritas to more interesting ones like mint juleps and rob roys. Using premium ingredients like bitters and juices in each capsule, you get drinks that taste like they were just mixed and poured by a bartender. And a monthly subscription service means you can keep the machine stocked with your favorite cocktail selections at all times.
Drinkworks Drinkmaker Home Bar by Keurig
$300 at Best Buy
$300 at Drinkworks
- Alcohol included in pods
- Mobile app for set-up and re-orders
- Themed and limited-edition drinks
- Beer and wine options
- Can’t choose spirit brands
- Can’t customize drink strength
- No subscription option
- Limited availability in the U.S.
As a great all-in-one solution, the Drinkworks pods come with the alcohol already included in a highly concentrated form along with juices, bitters, or other necessary natural flavorings. All you need to do is add water and when needed, CO2 to make a margarita or mojito or fancier drink like a peach sangria or white Russian. Using premium spirits, you get bar-quality drinks in under a minute that are perfectly chilled and, when applicable, carbonated. In addition to the wide selection of drinks that include not only cocktails but also wine and beer, there are also local limited edition selections.
It’s a tough choice between the Bartesian and the Drinkworks Drinkmaker, both at-home drink makers that use pods or capsules to output delicious, premium-quality mixed drinks. But while they both accomplish the same task, they do it in very different ways. And the Bartesian has an edge because of its customizability, including allowing you to use your own favorite spirits, modify the strength of the drink, including making them with no alcohol at all, and the subscription option for quickly re-ordering capsules.
How do they work?
First, let’s take a look at how both machines work. They are both straightforward to use. With the Bartesian, fill the reservoir with water and the base with your favorite spirits, like vodka, tequila, gin, and rum (there are four reservoirs to keep multiple spirits stocked at all times.) Pop in the desired capsule, which is filled with bitters, extracts, and juice concentrates, select the desired drink strength (light, regular, double/strong, or mocktail), and press “mix.” The machine reads the capsule, so it knows what drink it is, what alcohol is needed and dispenses the proper spirit, water (if necessary), and mixes it with the capsule contents.
The Drinkworks Drinkmaker works much the same way except you don’t need to add alcohol separately because the pods include hyper-concentrated barrel strength spirits along with real juices infused with all-natural ingredients to make up precisely measured cocktails and other drinks. The machine reads the pod, which can include cocktails as well as brews and ciders, and mixes the pod contents with water to dispense the desired drink in under 60 seconds. If necessary for the drink, it will also first mix the water with CO2 using precision onboard chilling and carbonation. Like with the Bartesian, the result is a beautifully chilled and delicious drink.
Here’s a look at how the two machines compare in terms of specs.
|Size||12.5 x 12.75 x 12.25-Inches||13.5 x 13 x 13.5-Inches|
|Drink Pods||Capsules with bitters, extracts, juice||Pods with spirits, juice, natural flavoring|
|Customizability||Different drink strengths||Cocktails, beer|
|Subscription Order Option||Yes||No|
|Availability||U.S. and Canada||Limited U.S. locations|
Matching your kitchen style
While there’s no denying that both of these are sleek machines that would fit nicely on any kitchen countertop or bar area, the Bartesian is a much sexier-looking unit that screams premium drinks while the Drinkworks looks more like a glorified coffee machine.
Using a coffee machine analogy, the Drinkworks would be the Keurig (which makes sense since Keurig partly owns the company). At the same time, the Bartesian is the Nespresso – the more refined, sophisticated-looking machine.
The Bartesian is slightly smaller at 12.5 x 12.75 x 12.25-inches in size compared to the Drinkworks size of 13.5 x 13 x 13.5-inches, and it employs a European design with a textured finish and stainless steel accents.
It has a user-friendly touchscreen for operation, including initiating a mix and selecting a drink strength. It will even suggest the right glassware to use to match your drink for an optimal and authentic presentation.
The Drinkworks does come with useful accessories like a pair of CO2 canisters, cleaning tablets, water filter, Loop recycle bag, and even a complimentary set of coasters. There are also lots of other available accessories that you will eventually need, like replacement water filters and CO2 cartridges, and cleaning tablets and ones you may want, like Loop pod recycling bags, a glass stand, and even a home bar lock so underage kids can’t use it.
The drink selection
The essential part of any at-home drink maker is, of course, the drinks. What can you get?
The Bartesian offers a much wider selection of drinks, which can be customized in many ways since you’re using your own spirits. You can use the spirit you prefer or even address allergies, like someone who is allergic to gluten and can only drink potato-based vodka. It’s also great for serving up mocktails so those who can’t drink, like kids under the age of 21, pregnant woman, designated drivers, or sober individuals, don’t feel left out. You can use flavored spirits as well for a twist on a basic drink, like peach vodka or spiced rum.
With both machines, you get all of the classic cocktail options, including whiskey sour, long island iced tea, margarita, cosmopolitan, and old-fashioned. But the Bartesian adds some exciting other options like uptown rocks, gin martini, rum breeze, sex on the beach, gimlet, negroni, Sazerac, mint julep, paper plane, spiced coffee, manhattan, lemon drop, boulevardier, rob roy, whiskey smash, low-cal cosmopolitan, ginger peach iced tea, mai tai, rhubarb spice shrub, kamikaze, northside, jalapeno lime shrub, and spicy margarita, with a new matcha margarita coming soon. Phew! There’s pretty much any drink you could possibly think of along with some you might never even have heard of.
Drinkworks has a great selection as well, with new drink pods being added all the time. But right now, it’s limited to about 20+ cocktails, including some exciting options not available for the Bartesian, like Cuban daiquiri, mojito, Moscow mule, and white Russian, along with mixed drinks like gin & tonic, vodka lemonade, vodka soda with lime, and whiskey cola. The alcohol content is noted on each pod and its packaging.
There are also themed collections like lemon bubbly, peach sangria, red sangria, and rose spritzer in the “Wandering Vines” collection and mai tai, paradise margarita, and strawberry margarita in the “Paradise” collection. And local and limited-edition specialty drinks come out all the time, like Jack Daniel’s Lynchburg lemonade.
The Drinkworks machine can make other drink types like cider and beer from leading brands like Stella, Beck’s, and Bass in addition to cocktails. Because the Drinkworks machine is a joint venture by Keurig Dr. Pepper and Anheuser-Busch InBev., there’s the expectation that you will be able to get drinks made using premium-branded spirits along with a selection of pod-based beers for those who prefer cold lager versus a fruity cocktail. That said, you still get what you get with the pods and can’t choose a different brand.
In both cases, the pods/capsules use premium and natural ingredients with great flavor versus powder with no added sugars or high-fructose syrups. Because the Drinkworks has CO2 cartridges, it can also produce carbonated drinks.
Keeping them stocked
When it comes to keeping the machines stocked with an ever-flowing selection of cocktails for guests or special evenings, Bartesian makes it super easy thanks to a subscription model that allows you to re-order new capsules monthly. You can order 18 cocktails every month with a mix of three flavors (six capsules each) for $45/mo. And you can change things up each month so you can try new things or re-order extras of your favorites or the ones you’re running low on.
Beyond the subscription, capsules come in six-packs for $15 or 36-packs for $80. You can buy a pack with classic cocktails or packs of six of your favorite cocktails. Considering you still need to purchase and use your own alcohol with each capsule, the price is pretty expensive at about $2.50 per drink before even adding alcohol.
The Drinkworks Drinkmaker doesn’t yet have a subscription re-ordering option though the company says it is working on a loyalty program of some kind, and you can easily re-order pods from the mobile app. For now, you have to order the drinks in packages that include variety packs, sampler packs, or the tropics collection, for instance, or by individual types. A set of four 50mL pods is about $16, and a sampler with 16 pods varies in price depending on the location and the pods. By contrast, that’s about $4 per drink, but the alcohol is already included.
Because Drinkworks offers pods that contain alcohol and things like cider and beer, it is recommended that they are kept in the refrigerator. Brews, in particular, must be refrigerated, or they can foam. Bartesian capsules can be kept in the refrigerator, or even frozen, to extend freshness beyond the “best by” dates. But otherwise, they can be safely stored at room temperature.
Focusing on environmental friendliness
In both cases, the pods/capsules are said to be recyclable. Drinkworks goes the extra mile in this respect, though. The company has partnered with Loop Industries to offer an upcycling program with its pods.
You can simply pop up to 30 pods into a Loop recycling bag (one is included, and you can order more for free) and mail them to Loop. The company will then ensure that the PET is diverted from landfills. Drinkworks has committed to making all of its packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025.
The machines also go into standby mode when they aren’t being used, helping to save energy further.
Maintaining the machines
I love that the Bartesian has interchangeable reservoirs that can store your favorite spirits. With them, you don’t have to wash and refill them every time you want to make a different drink or to make a cosmopolitan with vodka for one guest and a margarita with tequila for another. You can store up to four spirits and keep them stocked and refilled as needed.
The reservoirs are dishwasher-safe, and the machine runs an automatic self-rinse cycle after every cocktail, so you don’t have to wash it over and over. To clean the machine itself, use a damp cloth, and many parts can clean in the top rack of the dishwasher.
The Drinkworks requires a bit more upkeep, including changing the water filter, replacing CO2 cartridges as needed, and cleaning it with specialized cleaning tablets. That said, there aren’t any spirit reservoirs to be refilled or cleaned either.
Go for the premium experience
Both machines have their pluses and minuses. It comes down to whether you want a device that can make mixed drinks without you having to add anything or if you’re looking for a machine to sit at the bar that can use your favorite spirits and create cocktails from them with little to no effort. In both cases, you don’t have to worry about researching what bitters, extracts, and juices to buy, find the proper measurements, and learn how to mix them. Having done that myself, including recently to make homemade margaritas for my husband and me on Cinco de Mayo, I can attest to the fact that it’s a chore for just a couple of drinks.
I love the idea of the Drinkworks and have sampled a few of the drinks, and they are surprisingly good. But I’m fussy about spirits and would prefer to use my own vodka, tequila, and rum when making drinks. The Bartesian affords this customizability.
The Bartesian also allows homeowners entertaining guests to provide a more authentic bartending experience with the ability to offer mocktails, doubles, and light drinks as well as not-so-common drinks that will impress guests if you say you know how to “make” it (wink, wink) like kamikaze, lemon drop, or gimlet.
In theory, the Drinkworks machine makes more sense because if you’re looking for simplicity, the fact the pods come with the alcohol already in them is genius. You can’t get more convenient than that! But the Bartesian is a more sophisticated and sleek-looking machine. And for someone with a home bar who likes to drink premium spirits or make otherwise complicated cocktails, it’s a much better fit for ensuring you get the drink you want, every time.
Be a bartender at home
Become your own bartender
$350 at Bartesian
$350 at Best Buy
With the Bartesian premium drink maker, you can make pretty much any drink under the sun using the spirit of your choice and a capsule that contains the necessary extract, bitters, and juice concentrate needed. Customize the strength to your liking, from mocktail to a double, and impress your friends with your amazing bartending “skills.” It’s a sleek machine that will fit in any kitchen or home bar.
If you’re not picky about spirits
More than cocktails, no spirits needed
$300 at Best Buy
$300 at Drinkworks
The Drinkworks Drinkmaker is an excellent option for those who don’t want just cocktails and mixed drinks but want to explore other drinks like cider and beer as well. The great thing about this machine is that the pods it works with come with spirits included along with the real fruit juices infused with natural flavors. It’s an all-in-one solution if you aren’t picky about what spirits you use, as well as if you like carbonated drinks since this one comes with CO2 cartridges.