Over in Las Vegas, CES is now finito, so what better time for a well-earned drink? This was perhaps my favourite gadget of the entire show. It's a booze-related product that you would probably be most likely to buy when drunk and it's called Bev. Yes, really. You can just imagine flicking through Amazon one night after a few Old Fashioneds too many, finding this and saying, 'Wow, it's a sort of Nespresso/Keurig pod coffee machine… but for booze! And it's got a light-up party mode!'
Bev by Black and Decker – or bev by BLACK+DECKERTM as the brand insists on styling it – lets you mount up to five bottles of your favourite alcoholic beverages on its sturdy frame. As you can see, large 'straws' run from Bev into each bottle, ready to slurp up just the right amount of each of those delicious boozes, and turn them into a huge range of drinks, creating 'Delicious mixologist-crafted cocktails in seconds'.
How can this modern miracle work? The answer is Bartesian capsules. While you provide the bottled liquor, and Bev mixes everything together, the compact Bartesian pods tell the machine which boozes to mix and in what proportion, and then adds juices, bitters and the like, providing the finishing flavour touch to your cocktail. You can then add small umbrellas, sparklers, straws and so forth.
You can also customise your cocktail strength, although presumably not all that much, as the Bartesian pods contain only a small, set amount of mixers.
This entire concept was completely new to me, but it turns out Bartesian capsules – and one compatible machine – have been around for a while. For a time there was even a similar, rival device from Keurig, known as the Drinkworks Home Bar Pro – which is frankly a better name. Alas, in December, Keurig 'made the difficult decision' to stop selling it. You know how sometimes you have awesome ideas when you're drunk, but then you wake up with a sore head and realise they weren't such great ideas after all?
Black and Decker will be hoping for greater success and longevity with Bev, which even sounds like a British soap opera character who works as a barmaid. It says, 'Whether you're unwinding on the couch after a long day of work, hosting an intimate dinner party or throwing a blowout backyard BBQ, Bev lets you mix up any occasion with personalised cocktails at the touch of a button. Now, every drink enthusiast can feel like they have their own personal bartender at home,' and not just because they've had so much to drink that they've begun to hallucinate!
The most practical feature here is the 'easy load liquor system', which can sup from five standard 750ml bottles of your favourite alcohol, although Black and Decker is at pains to point out that 'Liquor is not included.' However, clearly the best feature is the LED lighting system set into Bev's base. This serves two purposes. First, it uplights your bottles, 'for a premium look on your countertop or bar cart.' Then there's 'Party Mode' where the bottles are lit up in sequence, like a kind of booze discothéque. This, Black and Decker says, 'adds a unique fun factor.' Ho boy, I bet it does… and I can't wait to try it!
Bartesian does an absolutely massive selection of cocktail pods, with everything from a highly-rated Old Fashioned to a low-calorie Margherita. There are also variety packs called things like 'Poolside Vibes' and you have the option of subscribing to a monthly delivery of new and old favourites. In December, for instance, there was a festive-themed variety pack featuring the likes of Yuletide Hurricane and Mistletoe Margarita – now that's the true spirit of Christmas.
Finally, if you are a reader from outside the US, and wondering why on earth Black and Decker is making Bev… The brand actually already makes a number of small kitchen appliances for the American market, as well as the drills and angle grinders it is better known for in the rest of the world. It's not just done it as a drunken bet, honestly.