Creative Destruction Comes for my Drinkworks

In early 2021, as the pandemic entered its second year, I gave my wife a Drinkworks Home Bar for Valentine’s Day. A joint venture of Keurig, Dr. Pepper, and Anheuser-Busch, the jazzy machine combines water, CO2, and pods of drink concentrate to make cocktails, beer, and cider much like a Keurig turns out coffee. Optical codes on the pods tell the machine what temperature to chill the drink and how much carbonation to add.

It is, I admit, superfluous—especially for a former bartender. But if you like variety in your alcoholic beverages and don’t want to keep a lot of beer, liquor, and mixers on-hand, it’s a nice product. And it’s a great party trick.

Sadly, last winter the company announced it was discontinuing the product, and this spring it is stopping selling the pods. Sometime in the coming months, after draining our stockpile of concentrated Manhattans and mimosas, our Drinkworks will become a brick.

It’s a reminder that Schumpeter’s creative destruction not only yields lost employment but abandoned ideas as well. Market success isn’t assured by hard work, clever technology, or novel ideas, but by suppliers and consumers finding mutually satisfactory exchange. As much as I like my Drinkworks, apparently not enough others did to make continuing the venture worthwhile to Keurig and A-B. Those firms are now reallocating their resources to other uses that they expect will satisfy greater consumer demand. Overall, creative destruction is good for humanity, but it does yield many individual disappointments. And it’s OK to be frustrated by that.

Fortunately, the creation keeps going, along with the destruction. Though Drinkworks has given up on the home robot bartender business, others haven’t. A few years ago, Keurig also gave up on another joint venture, the soft-drink-making Keurig Kold, but other home soft drink devices seem to be thriving.

As for my Drinkworks, who knows? Sometimes, abandoned ideas subsequently find market success. Maybe some clever Drinkworks redditers or other innovators will find a way to un-brick my machine.


Thomas A. Firey is a Cato Institute senior fellow and managing editor of Cato’s policy journal Regulation.