It can "prepare" cocktails, beer, and cider
In theory, the “Keurig of cocktails” sounds like a brilliant idea. Many of us can only do so much muddling or zesting before we’re ready to throw in the bar towel. And in fact, a number of companies already promise to offer just such a device. But this week, the latest “Keurig of cocktails” has been launched… by none other than Keurig itself.
Formed last year as a partnership between Keurig Dr Pepper and Anheuser-Busch, Drinkworks has just introduced the Drinkworks Home Bar by Keurig. The launch is admittedly limited in scope: These machines are currently only available for preorder in the St. Louis area. On November 19, they’ll arrive in brick-and-mortar stores, but again, only around St. Louis. (Dierbergs and Schnucks anyone?)
For $299, no pods included, the Home Bar bills itself as able to “to prepare cocktails, brews, ciders and more at the touch of a button.” The use of “prepare” appears to be a purposefully vague choice. Similar to using a Keurig coffeemaker, Drinkworks users pop a pod into the machine which then “calculates the precise amount of water and carbonation needed for each proprietary Drinkworks Pod, to deliver an exceptional experience every time.”
The Home Bar is launching with 24 different options. The list of cocktail pods—which have a suggested retail price of $3.99—are Classic Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Gin & Tonic, Daiquiri, Long Island Iced Tea, Mojito, Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, Red Sangria, White Russian, White Wine Peach Sangria, Lime Vodka Soda, Paradise Strawberry Margarita, Paradise Mai Tai, and Paradise Margarita. Meanwhile, beer and cider options—which are sold in “flights” of four and come out to $2.25 a pop—are Bass, Beck’s, and Stella Cidre.
Despite all of its talk of innovation, Drinkworks basically sounds like a Keurig Kold—which you might recall was Keurig’s ill-fated attempt at replicating the success of SodaStream—but for booze. To recap, coffee actually needs to be brewed, which Keurig’s coffee machines do. But unlike a device like Pico—which actually brews beers over the course of several days—the laws of nature dictate that no distilling, fermenting, or brewing is actually happening instantaneously within the Drinkworks Home Bar. Therefore, ostensibly all that’s happening within the appliance is that it adds water to a concentrate before carbonating and cooling your drink (assuming you want those two things to be done). No, it’s not as pointless as the Juicero, but similar to that device, the majority of the innovation happening with Drinkworks is likely happening at the pod stage: How do we squeeze the delights of a mojito or a Beck’s into a tiny concentrated liquid?
But therein lies the rub: If you want a premade mojito or a Beck’s why not just buy those at retail in a non-concentrated form? Since the Home Bar doesn’t give you much flexibility in how that mojito is prepared, the appliance is far from a substitute for mixing drinks at home. And is a beer really better if it’s been freshly watered down and carbonated from concentrate? It's certainly something to ponder the next time you crack open a cold one from the fridge (without waiting for a machine to do its thing).