What if instead of coffee, your Keurig dispensed alcoholic drinks? Well, Keurig actually made a gadget like that — a $300 cocktail-making pod machine called the Drinkworks Home Bar that turned disposable pods into cold beverages. Only Keurig and Anheuser-Busch mysteriously shut down that venture just three weeks ago, going so far as to appoint a settlement administrator to offer refunds. Which leaves a perfect space in the market for a competitor to step in: Black & Decker of dustbuster, power tool and small kitchen appliance fame.
The $300 Black + Decker Bev is coming this spring with what might be the most practical (and least stylish) take on the robot bartender yet. Unlike every competitor I could find on the web, it literally looks like a low-end Keurig, only with five stainless steel straws to suck the alcohol out of five standard 750ml liquor bottles of your choice. No need for custom bottles, no need to turn the bottles upside-down and potentially make a mess.
You load it up with tequila, rum, vodka, gin and whiskey bottles, fill the water container, pop in a pod containing the juices and bitters, and hit a button corresponding to the desired strength of your drink. Then, an internal pump draws out digitally measured quantities of each liquid, uses pressure to shove them into the capsule and mix them, valves direct excess liquor back to each bottle uncontaminated, the drink pours into your glass, and the whole system flushes the pipes with air and water to clean itself out. The company says the whole process takes under 30 seconds. (The capsules do have something akin to Keurig-esque DRM, too: the machine scans a basic barcode to identify the capsule.)
Like with Keurig’s venture, Stanley Black & Decker (which also owns DeWalt, Craftsman and Porter-Cable) isn’t going it alone: it’s teamed up with Bartesian and uses that company’s existing pods (which cost $15 for a pack of six, each good for a single drink). Interestingly, the Bev comes in $50 less expensive than Bartesian’s current machine. Stanley Ventures also invested in Bartesian last year, and Black+Decker spokesperson Brooke Withers confirms that the company “is working with Bartesian to explore options for bringing the at-home craft cocktail experience to additional markets around the world.”