Updated: November 15, 2022
On-demand bartender machines to help those who love to entertain at home but remain intimidated by a lack of knowledge and experience preparing cocktails.
Creating an entertainment space at home is incomplete without a proper home bar set up and the knowledge of over 200 specialty cocktail ingredients. Unless you have taken a bartending course or are a professional mixologist, preparing adult beverages can be daunting and a bit intimidating. What exactly is a jigger and what is the metric equivalent of a pony?
Whether you choose a bar cart, cocktail machine or employ mobile bartending mixologists, always be prepared to serve your guest the perfect drink, be it a craft beer, rare wine or an artisanal cocktail. There are a number of affordable robotic bartenders, cocktail, “mocktail” and frozen drinks machines currently on the market that can help with the latter, to help you enjoy hosting duties.
On-Demand Cocktail Machines
On-demand cocktail machines are becoming the ideal way to serve perfect, premium drinks, without needing the knowledge and skill that is required for becoming a competent, certified mixologist.
No longer will you have to remember if a Harvey Wallbanger is made with Galliano liqueur or Pernod or Sambuca, or if a Whiskey Sour has lemon or orange juice. Cocktail machines are preprogrammed to deliver the right spirits and, with their pre-mixed drink pods, the correct ingredients to produce flawless craft cocktails, made with real juices, fruit and extracts.
These products all help to address various types of drudgery related to entertaining, e.g.: no messy kitchen countertops; no leaky shakers; no tiresome shaking; or loss of time playing bartender. As cocktail machines do most, if not all, of the work, guests can be entertained by ordering their drinks and dispensing their libations themselves, while hosts can be freed to enjoy the company of their guests.
The following two videos from Bartesian does a great job conveying the two main benefits for the entire product category:
- Creating quality cocktails easily & quickly
- Being freed up to mingle at your own party
Bartesian Video: If I Had the Time
Bartesian Video: A Cocktail Party Essential
The challenge is now deciding which one is right for you?
Arguably the most popular and affordable premium on-demand cocktail machine is the Bartesian. Introduced at CES 2020, it received an Innovation Award in the Home Appliance category. This model is perhaps the most hands-off and practical of the products we reviewed.
Batesian crafts single-serve cocktails from pre-mixed pods, with your choice of premium alcohol that takes the guess work out of ingredients, measurements and leaky shakers. Simply choose the pod or capsule of your preferred beverage, select the strength of the alcohol content, and enjoy!
Monthly subscription services for additional drink pods or capsules are available on the Bartesian website for various levels of consumption frequency.
Baresian Video: Introducing the Bartesian
Drinkworks Home Bar by Keurig
UPDATE: On December 15, 2021, Anheuser-Busch and Keurig Dr Pepper announced the permanent closure of Drinkworks.
Here is a revised version of our original write-up on this historic product which describes Drinkworks in the past tense:
Developed and marketed by Keurig, the ubiquitous maker of single-serve coffee machines, Drinkworks offered a different take on the on-demand cocktail machine. Unlike other products in the category, Drinkworks was the only on-demand cocktail solution that added spirits to their drink pods, which means that pods were sold separately.
With over 30 different cocktails from which to choose, you simply inserted the desired pod into the machine and pressed the button. Top shelf alcohol-infused pods could be purchased at many retailers including Beverages and More. Retail locations where cocktail pods could be purchased could be found by typing in your zip code on the Drinkworks website, which listed available retailers and any new flavors for the given month.
Additionally, Drinkworks was the only machine that used a carbon dioxide or CO2 cartridge to create carbonated drinks, such as spritzers, from a growing list of available cocktails.
Additional accessories that were available for purchase included: cleaning tablets; water filters; home bar locks; glass stands; CO2 cartridges; and pod storage towers. The Drinkworks machine was available for purchase within the contiguous United States, which excluded Hawaii and Alaska.
Drinkworks Video: Product Demonstration
Drinkworks Video: Unboxing the Drinkworks Home Bar by Keurig® (1 minute)
A high-end entrant in the professional automatic bartender category is Somabar, which initially targeted commercial sales to restaurants that lacked bartenders and liquor licenses. Marketed as a “professional bartender”, the Somabar can mix cocktails on-demand, with the aid of an app that allows for an unlimited drink menu. Drinks can be made within 10 seconds.
During its initial launch the product was sold along with low-proof spirits to allow restaurants that only had a wine and beer license to get around any “full liquor license” requirements. Although the resulting drinks are not mocktails by any means, the solution does, however, enable proprietors to serve drinks that are up to 24% ABV, the alcohol percentage by weight, the same as a glass of sherry or other fortified wine.
Unlike many of the other cocktail machine’s currently available, Somabar is also marketed as an on-demand cold coffee, tea latte and juice infusion barista. Perhaps our favorite feature is the fact that it is self-cleaning, unlike any of the other competitive products available.
Somabar Video: Somabar Perfect Mixed Drinks On-Demand
Another higher-end machine for the more sophisticated home bar is the Barsys 2.0. The machine allows you to add the bottles of your five favorite spirits (in their own bottles, so you can use premium labels) and three mixers (1200 ml canisters are filled and inserted into the machine). Using either their Android or iOS app allows you to select the drink of your choice, as the glass slide to the proper spirit and mixer to create your adult beverage.
Barsys allows creation of customized drinks to meet personal preferences and to awaken the inner mixologist in all of us. The lighting feature guides you through the the progress of the drinks creation and is controlled by carefully designed algorithms that measure pours to ensure perfectly portioned beverages.
Barsys Video: How the Barsys Robot Bartender Works
Waring Professional Martini Maker
Perhaps you identify with James Bond’s approach to imbibement and only prefer martinis. Then the Waring Professional Martini Maker would be the ideal choice for you, as it offers both “shake” and “stir” features for true martini enthusiasts.
Despite its name, the Martini Pro can actually make daiquiris and other drinks that require arm numbing shaking, such as a Ramos Gin Fizz. The machine is low on frills, as it comprises of a 20-ounce stainless steel cocktail shaker, with a built-in strainer that sits on a blender-like base. With a 5-year warranty, this machine is a favorite, as customers especially rave about the chilling feature and durability.
Margaritaville Jimmy Buffet Signature Frozen Concoction Maker
Jimmy Buffet has lent his name to the iconic restaurants and frozen drink concoction makers, and created a thriving brand from the fame and popularity of one song, Margaritaville. These icy drink machines are a hit with consumers who swear that the results compare to restaurant quality drinks.
Add ice to the ice reservoir, pour drink ingredients into the pitcher and then turn on the machine to create shaved and blended ice delights, such as daiquiris, piña coladas, smoothies and, of course, margaritas. The machines come in different styles: Tahiti, Bali, Bahamas, Key West, which vary based on their ability to make smaller or larger servings.
Though Bibo is no longer in business, we include their Barmaid Cocktail Machine, for three reasons:
- To show their unique approach and features in this product category for comparative purposes
- To eliminate confusion if you come across old reviews or listings on Amazon or Bed Bath & Beyond, and wonder if it is still being manufactured
- To provide an important reminder that there is inherit risk purchasing new products that are reliant on proprietary ingredients, materials or parts to operate. For example, you may find a model or two listed on eBay, but you would also need their cocktail mixer packets to use it properly
This model was one of the least expensive of the many cocktail machines when it was marketed. At less than $100, the Bibo had been referred to as the “Keurig for Cocktails”, as it shared many of the same features of the famous single serve coffee machine.
Using pre-mixed pouches of non-alcoholic mixers, the Bibo read the barcode on the pouch to calibrate the exact amount of cold water to add with your choice of spirits. The setup process was straight forward: fill the shaker with ice cubes; add the desired amount of alcohol; select your drink pouch and then push the button.
The self-cleaning feature pulled water from the reservoir tank to insure that no spirits or mixers lingered between different drink types.
Bibo ceased operations sometime between November 27, 2019 and April 10, 2020.
Commercial On-Demand Cocktail Machines
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