Whatever happened to those 1950 and 1960-era cocktail parties? The ones where the adults listen to music, talk, and laugh while drinking Manhattans, Negroni, Martinis, and Fuzzy Navels? Maybe they’re still happening and I just don’t get invited. 

   How did those cocktail party hosts make those tasty alcoholic beverages? I picture someone behind a bar cart with swizzle sticks, simple syrups, bitters, and anything else needed to make a cocktail. Does anyone still do that?

If you think it’d be fun having some friends over for an old-fashioned cocktail party, put on a suit and tie, or dress. But rather than ordering all of the ingredients you might need to make cocktails, maybe you get a cocktail machine.

There are a few available from different brands. I had the chance to try the Bartesian version. I called a couple of friends over to help me by being taste testers. 

First things first, how does a cocktail machine work?

The original Bartesian came with four bottles for your favorite spirits. It also took up a great deal of counter space that might be a deal-breaker for some. So Bartesian released a smaller version called the Duet. It holds two bottles of alcohol and takes up roughly half the space of the original machine.

They both work the same way. You add your favorite spirits to the included bottles. With the Duet, you’re limited to two liquors. It is set up for Tequila and Vodka but you have the option of changing either or both to Whiskey, Rum, and Gin. It depends on which cocktail you’d like to make.

Once the spirits are added to the Bartesian bottles, they connect upside down on the side of the Bartesian. A water reservoir is connected to the back of the machine where you’re encouraged to use only distilled water. I also suggest changing the reservoir when the night is over. You can also add ice so the drinks are at least a little cold when poured.

Bartesian capsules (sold separately) have all of the ingredients for the specific cocktail you want to make. There are lots to choose from including capsules for an Old Fashioned, Whiskey Sour, Cosmopolitan, Negroni, Sex on the Beach, a variety of Margaritas, Long Island Ice Tea, and a number of others.

Each cocktail pod or capsule contains every ingredient necessary including fruit juice, bitters, and simple syrups.

Here’s where the tech comes in: each capsule has a barcode that tells the machine what cocktail you’re making and which alcohol bottle to draw from. 

You’re then asked how strong you want the drink. Light, regular, strong, or a mocktail with no alcohol. Once you choose, you simply tap the digital screen to “Mix”. In a matter of 3-5 seconds, your cocktail is mixed and ready to drink. 

Garnish the drink with an orange or lime slice, a cherry, salt on the rim, or whatever it calls for and you’re ready to sip.

How do they taste? My friends say their cocktail tastes just like a bartender mixed it. Since you can choose your favorite spirit, you control the taste to some degree. Clearly, top-shelf tequila will make better-tasting margaritas than bottom-shelf bottles.

Remove the empty pod and you’re ready to mix another drink. 

It could not be easier. 

The original Bartesian that holds four bottles at once is $369. That also comes with two extra bottles for gin and rum so you’re not constantly emptying and pouring into one of the other bottles every time someone asks for a different cocktail.

The Duet comes with just two bottles. That would be great for people who only drink two spirits. I suggest purchasing extra bottles.

Another key difference of the Bartesian from other cocktail machines is that since the pods themselves contain only the mixer and no alcohol, you can purchase them online from Amazon, Target, Williams Sonoma, and a few other retailers. Owners of the other machines that use pods with alcohol must purchase those at liquor stores.

The Duet is $300. Mixers come in variety packs and are $20 for a pack of 8 pods. You can save money by purchasing pods in large quantities if you’re having a cocktail party. You’re looking at roughly $3-$4 for each cocktail not counting the alcohol.

The cocktail machine is also a point of conversation and all of my friends couldn’t wait to take their turn at making their drink. Maybe cocktail parties will make a return. 


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