Monday, April 22, 2024

Barsys Smart Coaster Review: Not a Reliable Drinking Buddy


an accurate scale An important tool to have in the kitchen, why not a bar too?

Turns out, lots of reasons. On paper, Barsys Smart Coaster system is not a bad idea. Imagine a digital scale (like a dropper) that is connected via Bluetooth to an app on your phone that tells you what ingredients to pour into a glass sitting above it. And that’s exactly how Barsis works. Want to make margaritas? Pour in tequila until base of lighted coaster turns green. Then triple seconds until you get another green light. Then lemon juice. Then simple syrup. For novice mixologists, all they have to do is wait until the coaster says “when” each time, and the drink is ready.

well sort of. There are a lot of problems with the Barsys, both in concept and execution, to the point where it doesn’t really work well, even as a novelty item.

First off, the barsys may be a scale, but it doesn’t take any kind of readout apart from colored light. The scale starts off white, then gradually becomes more and more blue as you add the ingredients specified by your selected recipe. Eventually it flashes and turns green, moving you to the next component and starting the process over again. The problem is that if you don’t know how much ingredients you need to put in (and the app doesn’t tell you during mixing), you may either find yourself adding ingredients drop by drop – which takes forever. – or sloshing into alcohol and blowing up just past the “stop” notification. If you’re the kind of freewheeling home bartender who isn’t super-concerned about getting things done, this might not be a big deal. But in that case, it’s all too easy to guess as you sprinkle the ingredients into a shaker without thinking and call it close enough.

Photograph: Barsis

Another big issue is mixing. while Barsis is available with a optional mixer unit—a plastic glass with an electromagnetic stirring unit in its base—isn’t the most powerful way to blend drinks. It’s fine for shaking a martini, but if you really want to shake the hell out of that margarita, you’re going to need to put some of your muscle into it (via a different shaker). Barsis is unclear about when and whether to add ice to the mixer during recipe-building. The motor is capable of handling a bit of snow, but you can’t fill the mixer all the way up and get no traction. Any ice you use will need to be added at the beginning (when the empty mixer is initially weighed) or at the end, never in the middle, as this will throw off the liquid weight measurement. For recipes that require a dry shake—such as a sourdough made with egg whites—and then a second shake with ice, Barsis is particularly ill-prepared. It’s also worth noting that the system is really designed to only produce one drink at a time.