You've probably heard of Soda Stream ... for the past few years it's been the rage of suburban housewives and kids who refuse to drink plain ole' water but love pop. Well I'm not sure what happened recently but it seems like there are a ton of competitors fighting it out on the market all of a sudden. Well, compared to Drinkmate OmniFizz, Soda Stream just feels old and tired. We've run our Drinkmate through the paces over the past few months and added bubbles to everything from whiskey to cold brew coffee but we settled on a simple classic sparkling lemon water as a practical favorite.
This ability to carbonate pretty much any liquid is the ultimate "killer feature" for Drinkmate and it is enabled by a critical but obvious design twist. Unlike SodaStream, where the head and CO2 injector nozle is built into the machine - Drinkmate's is a standalone cap to the bottle.
I'm honestly not sure if there are other reasons, but the biggest impact is that this is way easier to clean up and especially when you do something like coffee, bourbon, or an Old Fashioned cocktail ... you're probably going to make a bit of a mess unless you are a savant at figuring out exactly how much pressure the concoction can take.
Functionally, the Drinkmate is a giant leap over SodaStream since it is smaller, lighter, and more functional. Ironically it also uses the standard CO2 bottles, so I was able to swap in ones that Jim had bought for his SodaStream and they worked perfectly in Drinkmate.
Drink Experiments We Tried:
During our review of Drinkmate, we couldn't stop ourselves from trying a variety of different experiments. Some were terrible, some were just not very good, and other such as recarbonating beer were interesting. Let's take a look ...
Whiskey (and rum, vodka, as well as tequila)
It worked ... but due to different viscosities the effect was different on each spirit we tried. Not surprisingly, vodka was the most amenable to being carbonated (though I think it would be better to carbonate a vodka cocktail rather than the spirit). Second was the Maker's Mark Bourbon that we tried and this results in an interesting expression but frankly it's challenging to sip something and let it roll over your taste buds when the bubbles are trying to escape.
Across the board though - it was an interesting experiment but you are better off carbonating sweet drinks not spirits that you will be sipping. This is in large part due to the CO2 imparting a bitter flavor that was disruptive to notes I usually enjoy experiencing.
Cold Brew Coffee
This was one experiment that hands down was terrible and even more terrible when we added some sweet cream on top. While nitro coffee works by slowly injecting nitrogen into the coffee tap, that has a neutral flavor and tiny bubbles. Here though the CO2 was bitter and tried to be energetic (though ultimately had trouble holding the bubbles once poured into a tasting cup.
Re-Carbonating Flat Beer
I'm not sure if this would have been better if we'd things differently but our test involved leaving two cans of beer open in the fridge overnight to go flat naturally. The next day we poured it into the Drinkmate bottle and pressed the fizz button. The beers we used - IPAs - did indeed fizz up but it was too much carbonation and the flavor tasted more like flat beer that had bubbles vs anything that I'd rave about as a reason to buy Drinkmate.
By this point, we'd learned that the CO2 being injected would change the profile of the drink and make it a bit more bitter compared to the flat version. As such, sweeter, thinner liquids tended to fare best. That proved accurate here for the Sparkling Rose and so this one would be considered a success.
Sparkling Lemon Water
At the end of the day, the clear winner was essentially what the core market is for all of the "soda machines" on the market ... sparkling water with flavors. Water simply works best and adding flavors overcomes the bitterness of CO2.
Final Thoughts on Drinkmate OmniFizz
I'm really impressed. This machine is portable, easy to use, simple to clean and does exactly what it is designed to do in a way that is frankly superior to it's main competitor.
We ultimately settled on the fizzy lemon water as the drink of choice since it was something that Jim liked drinking and so this has become part of our daily routine to whip up a fresh batch.
There are clearly more paths to explore and when we finally move back to our own place, I might have to buy one of these myself and try more fizzy cocktails. I'm sure there are some fun things that you can do with gin spritzes and other cocktails that already leverage soda water but where you don't always have a can of it in the bar.