The Bartesian - Premium Cocktails On Demand?

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8th January 2024

If you’re the kind of person who likes a good cocktail, wants simplicity and speed in making some great concoctions, or just generally wants to have some fun with some friends round, the Bartesian is for you.

Hailed as the ‘robot bartender’ or the new ‘coffee capsule machine’ of the cocktail world, the Bartesian takes the concept of ‘add a capsule, hit a button and get a great drink’ into the cocktail scene. Created by ex-bartender Ryan Close, it won the 2020 CES Innovation Award as well as the Good Housekeeping Best Innovation of 2020 Award, and since that time new cocktails and new premium accessories have joined their ever growing line.

Bottom line - we were very impressed with the flavour profile and balance of some otherwise complicated drinks, and although it obviously will lack the craft of the top bartenders, the capsules contain premium bitters and ingredients and it shows in the surprisingly great tasting drinks.

So how does it actually work and what options do you have? Well the machine really does make it as simple as possible; once set up it’s simply a case of add a capsule, which defines the drink you are having, the machine then scans a barcode on the top of the capsule to tell you what glass (or shaker) to place underneath, you choose the strength (from mocktail to strong), and hit go.

It sucks up the relevant spirit, pushes it through the capsule, and out comes the drink into the glass ready to be drunk (or shaken and poured). It takes around 15-20 seconds and is quite enjoyable to watch as it creates the drink.

On the side of the main workings of the machine are 4 removable containers that you fill with a corresponding drink - whisky, tequila, rum, vodka or gin. There’s specific locations each need to go, with the rum and gin being an interchangeable location. When you choose a drink it knows which container to use and grabs the relevant alcohol (there’s also a water container in the back of the machine that’s used alongside this).

The first drink we tried was a negroni, a fairly alcohol heavy drink that’s mixed with gin, vermouth and Campari. With the machine only having gin as the alcoholic option I was skeptical on the machines ability to recreate the otherwise classic drink - how was it going to recreate the vermouth and Campari flavour profile?

I had filled up my gin container with Albino Flamingo Gin, a 45% London Dry Gin from a small distillery in Oxfordshire, England, and watched as the machine produced the iconic dark ruby drink. It looked good, smelled good, but the proof is always in the tasting.

My oh my, it had crafted a really well balanced Negroni, that in all honesty was up to par with most Negroni’s we make in the office. ‘What magic was in that capsule to balance out the missing Vermouth and Campari?’ we wondered. We were not only impressed, but also, in all honesty, very pleasantly surprised as our pre-conceptions were of a machine that was going to produce sickly sweet drinks. But my how we were wrong. The drink went down quickly and we started to wonder how it could cope with a much more straight lined simple, yet deceptively complex, drink such as the Old Fashioned.

We had been sent a few different packs by Bartesian to try, from holiday specials, to a pure margarita only pack. Each pack contains 8 capsules (which equates to 8 drinks), and with each pack coming in at $15-$20 you’re looking at $2-$2.50 per drink, and that’s without the alcohol. Each capsule is fully recyclable, which was initially a worry for us on the eco credentials but this was appeased somewhat. For some the cost will be fairly steep, and arguably rightly so, but then the ingredients in the packs seemed to be premium and well balanced, and if it creates great well balanced drinks some may think that is very reasonable indeed.

Pardon the interruption

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We had been lucky enough to also be sent a clear spherical ice maker, and excuse us while we harp on about this magical accessory before moving onto the Old Fashioned. We’ve tried a lot of ice makers in the past, and I can honestly say that the Bartesian’s spherical ice box, although overtly large (you’ll need some freezer space to host this box), makes the best, clearest ice spheres we’ve had the pleasure to use. They are also, thankfully, properly sized at around 1.5” across. A real change to most undersized underwhelming options out there.

Beautiful ice spheres

Back to the old fashioned however; we dropped one of these spheres into a proper rocks glass, and let the machine do its work. The colour looked good and with a twist of orange peel that we added and the large ice sphere nicely rolling around the glass, looked great. We’d opted for a fairly premium American oak casked whisky, over a bourbon on this occasion, and that definitely told in the drink as the whisky notes floated through. The drink was a touch on the sweet side for our palettes here, but the bitters weren’t over-powering and were just on the edge of the flavour profile, as they should be. Second review, almost for our palettes, but still very very passable.

Over the past week we’ve tried a few other cocktails, with friends and colleagues alike, ranging from discerning drinkers to beer loving friends, and all have been both excitedly impressed and pleasantly surprised at the quality of the drinks. The machine has gone down a storm in the office and we’re excited to see how it does with some classics such as The Aviation, Lemon Drop or Long Island Ice Tea, as well as their own takes on seasonal concoctions such as the Mocha Bliss Martini and Clausmopolitan (a great name by the way).

As with all cocktails, the quality of your alcohol choice is going to have a massive influence on the final drink; it always confuses me when drinkers assume a bartender can create a great cocktail with cheap vodka, but if you’ve got that bit sorted, the capsules seem to create a premium flavoured cocktail that is balanced, true to the original, and most importantly, damn tasty.

Are some cocktails going to be a little sweet, or not the same as you like - sure, you can’t tweak individual measures to your own palette choice, but otherwise a round of applause for the product and team behind it. A premium product, at some may same a premium price at $366, but the results show in the engineering quality and final drink.

Well done, we have all been massively surprised and overly excited at The Bartesian. Now onto another one of their cocktails, its the morning so we’ll go with a ‘light’ alcohol choice …..

You can check out and purchase The Bartesian, as well as their premium accessories from here. For UK readers you can find The Bartesian on amazon here.

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