Standard kitchen refrigerators are great for storing perishable foods and even a small number of canned beverages, but often the bulk of the space in a regular fridge is taken up with fresh veggies, leftovers, and drinks such as milk and OJ, leaving little room for canned beverages. Worse yet, pouring a drink over ice waters down the taste, leaving it cold but diluted and unsatisfying. The solution is a beverage fridge that’s dedicated solely to chilling canned and bottled drinks.
The best beverage fridge for you will depend on the space available, how many drinks the cooler should hold, and whether it’s a freestanding, built-in, or portable model. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for a beverage fridge, and find out why the following choices are tops in their class.
- BEST OVERALL: Antarctic Star 36-Bottle Wine Beverage Refrigerator
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Antarctic Star 60-Can Beverage Refrigerator
- BEST PORTABLE: Nostalgia RF6RRAQ Retro 6-Can Personal Refrigerator
- BEST LARGE: hOmeLabs 120 Can Mini Fridge with Glass Door
- BEST FOR CAMPING: Alpicool C40 Portable Refrigerator 12 Volt for Travel
- BEST FREESTANDING: Miroco Drink Fridge Touch Control Digital Display
- BEST BUILT-IN: Phiestina 24-Inch Built-In Dual Zone Wine Beer Cooler
- BEST OUTDOOR: BULL Outdoor 11001 Stainless Steel Refrigerator
Types of Beverage Fridges
Drink storage needs vary widely, from the home worker who wants to enjoy a cold soda in the afternoon to a large commons area in an office building where dozens of workers seek chilled drinks. A mini fridge designed to hold enough cold beverages for all who come looking is an investment in a happy workforce or satisfied family members.
A freestanding beverage fridge sits on a countertop, a table, or even on the floor—wherever there’s enough space. It will need to be near an electrical outlet, since most units recommend against using an extension cord between the outlet and the cooler. Most beverage fridges are freestanding, meaning they’re also portable, depending on their size.
A built-in beverage fridge is sized and designed to slide into an empty cabinet space beneath a countertop. Most cabinet sections are 24 inches wide, so most built-in fridges are slightly less than 24 inches wide. Some might be slightly less than 48 inches wide and designed to take up two cabinet spaces. To permit adequate venting, a built-in beverage fridge will feature a vent fan on the unit’s front, since the cabinet walls block the sides and back of the refrigerator.
Suppose you want an existing cabinet removed to accommodate a built-in beverage fridge. In that case, it will likely require the services of a carpenter who can remove the existing cabinet and install trim around the opening for a finished look. Like a freestanding fridge, a built-in model requires direct access to an electrical outlet, so if one’s not available, an electrician should add a circuit before installing this type of cooler.
What would summer be without backyard entertaining? And what would backyard entertaining be without an ample supply of chilled drinks? An outdoor beverage fridge usually is designed to incorporate into the outdoor kitchen cabinet, although exterior freestanding models also are available. These units will withstand the additional moisture and temperature fluctuations of an outdoor environment. Still, if you live in an area where it freezes over the winter, the manufacturer will likely recommend storing the fridge indoors in a basement or other spot.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Beverage Fridges
When selecting a beverage fridge, the general rule is to err in the direction of surplus storage space rather than too little. In addition to capacity, consider the type of beverages to keep cool (different drinks are better when held at different temps) and whether the fridge should have a lock to keep underage fingers away from alcoholic drinks. Incorporating the fridge’s design into the existing decor of the room will also be a consideration for many.
While standard refrigerators are rated by square foot storage capacity, beverage fridges are usually marketed by the number of cans or bottles they’ll hold. As a general rule, if you’re planning to entertain or host an event, consider a beverage fridge that holds enough cans to allow three drinks per person. Some guests will drink less, but others might drink more. The following is only a general guide, as needs will vary.
- 12-can capacity: This small beverage fridge is well suited for a home office where the worker consumes one or two cans daily.
- 20-60 cans: This size is suitable for a couple or a small family who consume an average of one or two beverages per person daily.
- 60-120 cans: A fridge of this volume offers plenty of cold storage room for a small office or frequent home entertaining.
- 120 cans or more: Beverage fridges of this capacity will hold plenty of drinks for a large office or frequent entertaining of large groups.
- Bottles: Beverage fridges designed to store wine will list the number of bottles rather than cans. Unlike can capacity, bottle capacity is a matter of personal choice, as many wine connoisseurs store chilled wine but only drink it on occasion. If you’re looking for a wine cooler, consider how many bottles of wine you typically keep on hand.
Chilled is chilled, but not all cool temps are right for all types of cold drinks. When shopping for a beverage fridge, consider the temperature best suited to the drinks you’ll be keeping cool. Not all beverage fridges list a temperature range, but many of the larger ones will.
- Soft drinks: A can of soda pop is oh-so-refreshing when it’s at 34 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Beer: This malt brew is tastiest between 45 and 50 degrees for beer with reduced-alcohol content (3.2 percent) and between 55 and 60 degrees for beer with higher alcohol content (6 percent and higher).
- Wine: The best temperature for wine depends on the type. White wine should be the coolest at 45 to 55 degrees, sparkling wine and champagne taste best when stored at 55 to 60 degrees, and red wines should be slightly warmer, from 60 to 68 degrees.
If you share an apartment and aren’t fond of roommates helping themselves to your drinks, a lock makes sense. It’s also a smart feature when storing alcoholic beverages if children are in the home. Safety locks can be as simple as child-resistant locks or as complex as combination and keypad locks. Some also come with a latch that allows the user to attach a separate lock.
Shelving serves to keep cans and bottles separated but close enough together to store as many drinks as possible. Consider the types of cans or bottles, as some beverage fridges designed to hold cans will accommodate only standard 12-ounce cans but will not hold larger 18-, 20-, or 36-ounce cans. Wine coolers are available for storing standard-size bottles (750 ml), but some will also hold liter-size bottles. A few will also accommodate smaller half-liter (500 ml), demi-liter (375 ml), and piccolo (187.5 ml) wine bottles.
Beverage fridges with deep rows that hold multiple cans will benefit from interior LED lighting that either comes on when the door opens or, better yet, illuminates the fridge’s contents so you can see them through the glass window in the door. If the user can see what’s in the refrigerator before opening the door, the refrigerator loses less cool air and, therefore, conserves energy. Wine might actually degrade if the bottle is exposed to ultraviolet light, so wine coolers typically feature soft blue lights that illuminate the interior but do not damage the wine itself.
The saying “You get what you pay for” holds true for beverage fridges. Inexpensive models made from cheap materials are less likely to maintain a consistent temperature and more likely to have shorter useful lives and need replacement parts or repairs, so opt for quality.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, the best beverage fridges should be well-designed, maintain a consistently cool temp, and hold enough beverage cans or bottles to meet your needs. While the reasons for buying this type of cooler vary, the following picks all meet or exceed expectations in their classes.
Apartment dwellers and wine aficionados need look no further than the Antarctic Star Beverage Refrigerator that holds up to 36 standard bottles of wine and allows the user to adjust the interior temperature from 40 to 61 degrees to suit the type of wine being chilled. This freestanding unit comes with a reinforced glass door and an airtight seal to keep the temperature inside constant. It features a soft blue interior light that showcases the wine collection. If desired, cans can also be stored in this beverage fridge.
The Antarctic Star wine cooler measures 20.5 inches deep, 21.3 inches wide, and stands 31.4 inches tall, making it well suited for placement on a wet-bar counter or a table. It features a sleek, glossy black finish that goes with most recreation room decor.
Measuring just 18.6 inches wide by 17.5 inches deep and standing a mere 19.6 inches tall, this Antarctic Star mini beverage fridge won’t take up a lot of room on a counter or desktop. This budget-friendly option will still hold up to 60 12-ounce cans of beer or soft drinks. It comes with three temperature options, ranging from 40 to 61 degrees, for storing a variety of beverages.
To make for easy viewing of the cooler’s contents, the Antarctic Star features a clear double-glass door and a soft LED light that illuminates the inside of the cooler. An interior removable chrome shelf allows you to store cans or bottles of different sizes.
Stow it under a cubicle desk, put it on a shelf in a home office, or take it with you on a road trip. The Nostalgia Retro 6-Can beverage fridge is small enough to take with you wherever you go. It comes with both AC and DC power supply cords so you can plug it into a standard home electrical outlet or into a 12-volt DC power port in a car, truck, or on an ATV to enjoy refreshingly chilled drinks no matter where you are. The Nostalgia mini fridge holds just six 12-ounce cans. It keeps them as cool as 45 degrees.
An interior chrome shelf is removable for storing taller items as desired, such as yogurt, cheese, or fruit cups, making this little fridge also ideal for storing lunch at a work desk. As a bonus, the Nostalgia fridge does double duty as a food warmer and can keep heated foods approximately 130 degrees.
With the ability to store up to 120 standard 12-ounce drink cans, the hOmeLabs beverage fridge is just the ticket for those who entertain frequently or for keeping workers happy in an office break room. It features an interior white LED light to allow users to see what’s in the fridge before opening the door. The refrigerator also features an LED digital readout, and the internal temp can be adjusted as low as 34 degrees for refreshingly cold soft drinks or adjusted higher for beer and wine.
This freestanding unit measures 18.9 inches wide, 17.30 inches deep, and stands 33.3 inches tall, making it appropriate for placement on the floor, a counter, or a low table. It comes with three adjustable (or removable) chrome shelves to customize the interior to hold various other cans or bottles.
Drinks won’t get warm when you’re on a camping trip if you have the Alpicool beverage refrigerator that holds up to 50 standard 12-ounce cans. This case-type fridge resembles a standard portable cooler, but no ice is necessary. It runs off a 12-volt or 24-volt auxiliary DC power port on a truck, ATV, or recreational vehicle. Alternatively, it plugs into an AC outlet (AC cord not included) for use indoors.
It features an LED touch screen and temperature memory as well as battery protection to keep a vehicle or ATV battery from being drained. This portable fridge boasts a wide temperature range, from as cold as -4 degrees Fahrenheit, which will keep perishables frozen, up to as high as 50 degrees for keeping drinks refreshingly cold.
Store up to 35 standard wine bottles or up to 70 12-ounce beverage cans in the Miroco Drink Fridge with digital touch control. It comes with a Low-E triple-pane glass door for energy efficiency. Its intuitive temperature control can be adjusted from 34 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for maintaining the best temperature for different types of drinks.
The Miroco fridge measures 18.6 inches wide by 17.3 inches deep and tops out at 33.3 inches in height, making it well suited for locating on a sturdy table or countertop. It comes with three adjustable chrome shelves, allowing the user to configure the interior space to suit a variety of can or bottle sizes. It also features an interior LED light.
If you’re looking to create a seamless look in a kitchen or wet bar, consider the Phiestina built-in wine and beverage fridge that fits within a standard 24-inch cabinet space. This high-end beverage fridge features a stainless steel finish to complement other stainless steel appliances. To make it blend with the room and give it a professionally installed look, a carpenter or savvy DIYer can trim around the unit. Each side of the fridge features an individual touch screen digital control. It has removable racks, bottom front venting, and comes with a soft blue LED light to illuminate the contents without opening the doors.
The Phiestina fridge holds up to 20 bottles of wine or 78 12-ounce cans. The interior temperature can be adjusted from 40 to 66 degrees on the left half of the unit and from 38 to 50 degrees on the right half, making this a dual-zone fridge for keeping more than one type of beverage at optimal drinking temps. It measures 23.4 inches wide by 22.4 inches deep and stands 33.9 inches high.
No more running in and out of the house to fetch chilled drinks for guests or backyard swimmers. Take outdoor entertaining to a whole new level with the Bull Outdoor Products refrigerator. It will withstand temperature and humidity fluctuations while offering ample room to store drinks. On average, the unit will hold up to 70 cans. The stainless steel door is solid (no window), and it can be installed to open on either the right or the left side to suit individual patio kitchen configurations.
The interior temperature is adjustable, but ultimately, the internal temp depends on the outdoor temperature. A temperature dial allows the user to reduce or increase the temperature to keep drinks deliciously chilled. The Bull fridge should be stored indoors over the winter in northern climes.
FAQs About Beverage Fridges
A beverage fridge offers convenience and stores more drinks than the available space in most standard refrigerators, so chilled drinks are readily available. If this is the first time you’ve shopped for a beverage fridge, you likely have a few questions.
Q. What is the difference between a beverage cooler and a refrigerator?
A standard refrigerator keeps perishable foods safe by storing them at temps from 36 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while beverage coolers come with adjustable temperatures, reaching up to 60 degrees, so users can keep various types of drinks at optimal temps.
Q. What temperature should a beverage fridge be set to?
Optimal temps vary depending on the type of beverage. Soft drinks taste best when stored between 34 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit, beer is best when stored between 45 and 60 degrees, and wine should be stored between 45 and 68 degrees, depending on the type.
Q. How long does the beverage fridge last?
A beverage fridge’s lifespan is anywhere from four to 18 years, with small, inexpensive models wearing out before larger, higher-quality and built-in models wear out.