“The drinks aren’t terribly expensive, but they aren’t that good either.”
- Makes drinks fast
- Pods are recyclable
- The mini CO2 canister is a nice touch
- Long time to chill the water
- Makes a humming sound when on
Every once in a while, a product comes along that flat-out makes us curious. Case in point: The Drinkworks Home Bar that uses pre-mixed beverages cased in Keurig-style pods to make classic cocktails. Intriguing, no? It’s the kind of fancy machine you might see at a party, freeing up the host to mingle instead of being stationed at the bar making drinks for guests. Only who is having a party these days? Not us. Still, could this be the answer for those of us who want to supplement our beer and wine consumption while in lockdown at home with cocktails?
The black Drinkworks Home Bar by Keurig looks stylish enough sporting a black body, shiny silver pod dispenser featuring a start button surrounded by a blue or red light (depending on what’s happening). It’s the type of appliance that would fit well perched upon a Carrara marble countertop positioned just above the wine fridge in a fancy new kitchen.
Measuring 13 inches high, 3.5 inches wide, and 13.5 inches deep, and weighing a whopping 27.9 pounds, the Drinkworks machine is more like a Porsche Cayenne than a 911. So, expect it to take up a fair amount of room on your counter. Keep in mind that it shouldn’t be placed too close to a stove or oven. If you don’t have a lot of counter space, you might have to make room by sacrificing another appliance (heaven forbid, not your coffee maker). You can’t use Keurig coffee pods in this machine, so just forget that two-for-one idea that might be brewing in your head.
Once you find a home for the Drinkworks, it’s fairly straightforward to setup. There are three pieces: The machine, water tank, and drip tray. You’ll also find in the box two mini CO2 cartridges (they really are rather cute), two water filters, cleaning tabs, and a set of cardboard coasters featuring the name of a classic cocktail, a description, and a little history.
Overall, it took us about an hour to assemble the machine and get it working. Setup is more time consuming than difficult. For example, you need to run a tank of water through the machine, submerge and rinse the filter in water (change it every two months), and insert the CO2 cartridge. You know, standard stuff. Make sure the CO2 cartridge is tightly fitted in place, or else you’ll hear a hissing sound. There’s not a ton of CO2, so you don’t want to waste it on a faulty installation.
Making cocktails took barely any time at all — some might call that a neat party trick.
Of course, like so many appliances these days, there’s a Drinkworks app. The app will sync with the machine via Bluetooth, but at this point, you can’t do much with it. You can use the app to register the device, watch videos, read tips, send referral codes, and of course, order more pods.
Once you’ve got everything the way you want it, it is time to make a cocktail … or is it? Before using the machine, you’ll need to fill the tank with ice water and then wait 18 minutes for it to be ready to use. Not to worry, the countdown clock on the LED panel keeps you appraised of its progress. When the machine is on, it does emit a low humming noise that comes in at 53db (similar to the sound of an electric fan).
As of this writing, there are 27 drink offerings and a Stella Artois Cidre pod (personally, I’d like a bottle of that cidre, not a pod). The majority of cocktails only contain one to three ingredients and, admittedly, are fairly easy to make at home. Think: White Russian, Moscow Mule, Gin & Tonic, Vodka Soda with Lime. There are also quite a few that are a bit more complex, have more ingredients, and are time-intensive to create: Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Long Island Iced Tea, and a Margarita.
The pods come separately, and you can recycle used ones through the company’s mail-back program. We received our canister of pods as a delivery, and since there really is alcohol in the pod, you need to be of age to sign for it. Once you have the pods and the machine is set up, you can start making drinks. Simply put in the pod, put a glass under the stout, and follow the directions on the display, and watch it pour a cocktail into the glass. It really is that easy. Drinks came out rather quickly and we were able to make six cocktails on one full tank.
Like using a Keurig coffee machine, it’s not always easy to insert the pod correctly. Admittedly, it took us a few tries to realize how to insert the pods so that the machine could release its liquid into a glass. There was some confusion after reading the instructions about how to line-up the pod. Once we figured it out, making cocktails took barely any time at all. Some might even say that it’s a neat party trick.
Our test model came with three cocktails: Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, and Margarita. There are four pods in each container. Of the three drinks, we preferred the Margarita because it tasted most like something a bartender would make. The Moscow Mule was too sweet and the Old Fashioned had a strong orange taste. Typically, that orange flavor is more subtle or only comes in the form of a garnish.
Unless you’re trying a drink from the Top Shelf collection, there’s no way to know the brand of alcohol in the pod. When I have an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, I definitely want to know what kind of whiskey I’m drinking.
We’ve spent hours pondering why you would want a Keurig-powered cocktail maker and pony up close to $300 for it. Here’s what we’ve come up with: For those with disposable income, the machine is a bit of a novelty that would be fun to show off at parties. Some people who like cocktails but may not have the confidence or know-how to make them at home, could find the machine useful.
The pods aren’t terribly expensive at $17 for four pods (a little over $4 a beverage), but ordering a few different mixes could get spendy real fast. They aren’t the best cocktails we ever had, so the price is fine, but we wouldn’t call it a deal. Generally speaking, the cocktails aren’t that spirit-forward for those who are really particular with how their drinks taste, but others will appreciate the convenience it offers in making a drink. Having to wait so long for the machine to be ready to make a drink from a hard stop to finish, really takes the fizz out of the whole experience. Then again, a drink can quickly be dispensed in about a minute if it’s kept on all the time and the water tank filled.
Is there a better alternative?
Since this is a first of its kind of appliance, there’s not another machine that we would say is a better alternative. For those with a more refined taste, you’re better off stocking up your own drinks and make some of the more basic drinks the old-fashioned way … or, you know, go to a bar.
How long will it last?
There’s no information on how long the machine should last. The pods do have a best drink-by date, which is about nine months. The Drinkworks Home Bar by Keurig comes with a one-year warranty.
Should you buy it?
At $299, the short answer is no. That’s unless money is not an issue. At $16 for four pods, the drinks aren’t terribly expensive, but they aren’t the best tasting either. It’s certainly on the pricey side for a countertop small appliance, which can put you in a pinch if you intend on drinking on a frequent basis.
Although, the convenience of making drinks with a press of a button will certainly appeal to some people — more so to those who want to enjoy something quick at home. Its portfolio of drinks continues to grow, covering more intricate cocktails, wines, and even beer.
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