Five gadgets to raise your drinks game
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It’s 11am on a Thursday and I am getting drunk. All in the name of work, of course: “Bev”, a new automated bartender, has just landed on my doorstep. And this pod-operated Nespresso for cocktails is dangerously easy to use. Within minutes I have a Margarita in one hand, an Old Fashioned in the other, and a Whiskey Sour calling out to me. Bev (short, yes, for “beverage”) is now in “Party Mode” and flashing its LED lights: I’m a few sips away from joining it in the Macarena and ordering a kebab.
Out in the US this summer – and exploring options to launch globally – Bev is the work of Black+Decker, the hardware giant better known for drills than Daiquiris. It’s plugging a gap in the market for robot mixologists. The market-leading Drinksworks Home Bar was yanked off shelves late last year and, aside from a sleek Bartesian offering, there is scant competition – a surprising fact given that prepping cocktails at home can be a faff.
This one is simple to use, with no app or other “smart” functions: connect five bottles of spirits – whiskey, gin, rum, vodka and tequila – to the machine, each via a metal straw and insert a cocktail pod. This machine uses capsules from Bartesian (which helped Black + Decker develop this machine) that are recyclable and come in more than 40 flavours, including all the crowd-pleasers. You can also moderate your measure using a handy feature that allows you to request a weak, medium or strong drink, before you hit the “MIX” button. It then slurps up alcohol through the straws, combines it with the pod’s concentrate and pours you a glass. You also attach a bottle of water so that the machine can clean itself after each round.
The cocktails tasted as they should: not groundbreaking but perfectly good, albeit quite sweet. I preferred the stronger, less sugary options like the Old Fashioned. But Bev is good fun. It’s less Annabel’s in Mayfair, more local boozer: reliable, unfussy – and sure to lead to a rowdy night in. Bev by Black + Decker, $300, available in the US this summer
It’s a clean machine
Ironically, many water purifiers use disposable plastic filters to make your tap water as clean as an Alaskan spring. Not so Swedish brand Aarke’s new release, a neat glass pitcher that distills H2O using pebbly granules made from charged (“ion-exchange”) resins and activated carbon. The purifier requires you to steep the granules in water on first use. Then insert a shapely stainless-steel structure into the pitcher and use it much like a regular jug. The pebbles inside minimise nasties like chlorine, lead, copper and limescale by adding magnesium. You’ll just need to refresh them every four weeks; there’s no need for any kind of plastic cartridge. Aarke purifier, £100
Nothing but the juice
This sleek new contraption gently pulverises fruit and vegetables with the urgency – and muffled munching sound – of a bored heifer. Being a cold-press juicer, it forces produce through a strainer in order to extract all nutrients. Unlike most juicers, you can load up all your ingredients at once and shut the lid, rather than having to feed them in individually. In need of an immunity boost, I piled in carrots, celery, oranges and lemons and it spurted out a nourishing elixir from one tap and pulp waste from the other. It comes with recipes and preparation tips and can churn out nut milks, soups and sauces too. It can also be comprehensively dismantled so is easily cleaned. Nama J2 cold-press juicer, $550
With the twist of a handle and the whizz of a blade, the machine spits out fine shavings of ice into a plastic cone. I pour peach syrup over that frost-filled cone and suddenly I’m 10 years old again. A new release from Smart, a British brand that makes wonderfully nostalgic appliances like popcorn carts and waffle-makers, this snow-cone machine is a home run for summer. It’s simple to use: you fill it with five slightly melted ice blocks; it shreds them into powder worthy of Niseko’s slopes. As well as syrup-soaked snow cones, you can make a slushie by mixing the shavings with fruit juice, soft drinks or – yes I hear you – a Margarita. Smart Logo-print snow-cone machine, £65, selfridges.com
The key to good coffee grounds is consistency, and while manual grinders produce excellent, uniform results at a lower price, electric models are easier on the arm. So Goat Story, a cool Slovenian startup, has devised a sculptural 2-in-1 device that lets you choose: it’s essentially a manual grinder with an electric dock. Made of space-grade aluminium, it’s a highly precise burr grinder – it crushes the beans rather than slicing them with blades, which leads to better consistency – with a pretty staggering 240 settings, ranging from dust-like (for ibrik Turkish coffee) to medium (for filter coffee) to coarse granules (for cold brew). Pre-order now; it ships in June. Arco coffee grinder, €385, goat-story.com
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