I love a good margarita, but actually making a proper one is a pain. Luckily, the new Bartesian Duet (opens in new tab) showed me that all my favorite cocktails can be brewed like a Keuig coffee pod while still tasting great.
The Bartesian Duet saves more counter space and is less expensive than the original, plus it caters to those customers who stick to the same one or two types of liquors. Me? I’m strictly a vodka and tequila person, so I gravitate towards martinis and margaritas. As such, I’ve found plenty of Bartesian pods to choose from.
On the contrary, Long Island Iced Tea fans won’t be satisfied with the Bartesian Duet’s two-liquor limit. And if you live in a household where everyone has different preferences, switching out the wells is a damper on the experience. But as someone with specific tastes and a small apartment, the Duet is definitely my kind of gadget.
So is it yours, too? Read my Bartesian Duet review below to find out.
Bartesian Duet price and availability
The Bartesian Duet is available now at Walmart in the U.S. for $269 (opens in new tab). During Black Friday deals, you might be able to find the Bartesian Duet for just $199 while supplies last. The original Bartesian, with four alcohol wells, is currently $366 (opens in new tab) for comparison.
You can buy pods directly through Bartesian (with an option for discounted subscriptions), on Amazon or at Walmart. The pods cost $20 per 8-pack, which divides out to $2.50 per drink. Of course, that doesn’t include alcohol.
Bartesian Duet review: Design
The Bartesian Duet has two alcohol canisters instead of four for holding your spirits of choice. The idea is that if you like the same one or two kinds of alcohol for cocktails, you don’t need four wells active on a regular basis. Whenever you insert a basin, the controller will prompt you to assign it one of five liquors: vodka, tequila, gin, rum or whiskey.
Only holding two liquor wells at once makes for a smaller footprint (13.5 x 12.8 x 9.5 inches) than pretty much anything I’ve seen like this on the market. It’s ideal for an apartment or smaller area, where counter space is valuable. As a result, the Duet is approachable, shrinking from a true appliance to more of a gadget.
In addition to the two liquor wells, the Duet has a water basin. I noticed in the original Bartesian that water goes stale after a few hours. But the Duet’s basin looks more like one you’d find in a Keurig machine, with a complete seal that keeps water fresh for longer. Water is needed to dilute the alcohol and mixer concentrate in the pods, so I found this improvement important.
Bartesian Duet review: How it works
Using the Bartesian Duet was nearly effortless once I had my liquids situated. The lid’s lip lifts up and down smoothly, making it clear where I needed to insert a pod. Once a pod is inserted, the machine reads the pod barcode to ensure the proper liquors are loaded and suggests what kind of glass to use. For select drinks, the machine might recommend brewing into a cocktail shaker first. Though this, along with garnishes, is totally optional.
Next, I decided how I wanted my drink made. The options are regular, strong, light or mocktail. There are several people in my life who don’t drink alcohol, so even if I’m hosting them and everyone is whipping up their own drinks, they can be included in the fun.
I pressed down on the control dial to confirm my choice and mix my drink. My beverage started dripping out into the glass on the machine’s platform, filtering both the liquor and water through the pod. In about 10 seconds, I had a cocktail — it doesn’t get more on-demand than that.
There is a bit of splashing depending on the cup and ice, but I wiped those drops off easily with water and a cloth. I threw the drip mat and liquor canisters through the dishwasher after multiple uses, though full descaling is recommended especially if you’re not filling the machine with filtered water. The cleaning process is similar to how to descale a kettle.
Bartesian Duet review: Drink selection and taste
Bartesian pods come in a wide variety, ranging from the classics to seasonal beverages. I found at least a dozen options that I would order in an actual bar if they were on the menu. But for testing, I put the Bartesian Duet up to the challenge with my go-to drink: a margarita.
Even without fresh citrus, the margarita tasted great. It wasn’t too sweet, yet I still got the essence of sour mix and triple sec. It’s totally what I wanted out of a margarita, though that could be partially credited to high-quality tequila. I like that I can fill the machine with my desired liquor brands, since I definitely have preferences. Making these regularly, I would opt for a salted rim and squeeze of fresh lime. I can think of lots of little ways to spruce up the Bartesian Duet experience like chilling your glasses or adding garnishes. Again, entirely optional, but that’s how I see myself using the machine.
I also tried the Witch’s Heart, a Halloween-themed vodka martini. It was quite sweet, with notes of green apple and white grape juice. But the best part of it is that the pod packs edible glitter, so my drink glimmered. This is the type of pizazz I’ve only ever seen in a legitimate cocktail bar.
Happy hour has to come to an end with an important caveat: The Bartesian Duet does make it a bit more challenging to shop for pods, since you have to pay attention to the base liquors for each mixer. Certain pods, namely the Long Island Iced Tea, are outright incompatible if they require more than two mixers.
Bartesian Duet review: Verdict
The Bartesian Duet is a compact cocktail machine that makes delicious drinks quickly and conveniently at home. They don’t have the craftsmanship you’ll get from a nice bar, but I found little embellishments go a long way.
The downside is that it can only hold two spirits at once, so there’s not as much flexibility as with the original Bartesian, and some pods aren’t compatible. Still, I think the Bartesian Duet is an ideal gift for a friend or family member who likes trying out gadgets, hosting or, simply, having a drink. It’s probably not something someone would buy for themselves, but I see it being a thoughtful present that delivers ongoing entertainment. It’ll be the talk of your next dinner party, that’s for sure.