Booze Slinging Bots: The End of the Bartender?

Mashable came out with a story chronicling how in South Africa at the upcoming OppiKoppi music festival, festival go-ers will be able to order beers on their phone, and have them delivered to them via drone. Via parachute. I am not shitting you. As explained in this video, there are plenty of problems that still need to be worked out here, like – the inaccuracy of the parachutes for one. Will I have to constantly fear being hit on the head by a beer bottle? What if someone snatches my beer mid air? Sidenote: Last year SF experimented with a Burrito Dropping Drone (amazing, right?). There’s a possibility that Americans may not have to be worried about being knocked out in the head by a parachuted beer, considering the FAA is still in the process of allowing drones to fly our airspace (who said drones had to have a negative connotation anyways). But bots and booze… who knew?

Enter BarBot. For a few years now, San Francisco, the mecca for tech nerds all over, have hosted BarBot. What it is is a two day “celebration of cocktail culture and man-machine interface. Get a drink from an actual robot. Chat up a snarky electronic bartender. And, after downing you sixth martini, you can finally admit that it’s the geeks who shall inherit the earth. Come hang out with some alternate life-forms at barBot!”

So imagine my surprise when I was perusing the latest Kickstarter campaigns and came across Bartendro – A Cocktail Dispensing Robot made by Party Robotics. Seriously? Geek the f*** out. A robot that you can have in the comfort of your own home that is your own bartender. Amazing. The convenience of being able to make drinks to the right proportion (AKA strong, in my case) is so dreamy its unbelievable. If you’re a tech nerd like me, the phrase ‘open source code’ might have you in awe as well. For the lay people out there, open source code means that the programmers and makers have posted the computer code they used to make this robot do its thing. This is really cool for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it gives others the opportunity to revamp, change up, or edit the code and make their own alcohol slinging robot. Obviously all of these robots are a work in progress and for what I know, not yet available to the consumer market.

But kinks aside, this brings up a very important question: If robots are delivering our booze, what happens to the bartender?

The infamous show Cheers, is about Boston bar regulars and bartenders who all congregate at a place “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”. Put a robot in the equation, and what happens to that sense of community? I’m not trying to get all nostalgic and corny on you guys, I promise. But I think we need to give the human bartender a little more credit than to replace them by a machine.

We all have our favorite bartenders, who may or may not know our name, our favorite drinks, the way we like them served up, etc (don’t judge me). Replace my favorite bartender with a robot, you’ll see me screaming at a piece of metal, “DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO I AM?!” It’s a terrifying future I’m picturing. Sometimes at the end of a long week, you just want to go to your spot, and have a friendly human interaction with a bartender, who lets you know that so long as they are there, and human, its okay to indulge and imbibe. Or maybe you just need a smile. Can you smile at me robot? I didn’t think so. Also, have you ever been to a really nice restaurant/lounge/high end bar and seen the finesse of these bartenders? I’m not talking physical finess (although that too), but I’m talking about the artful way they shake, stir, muddle, strain, build, layer and pour that liquid goodness.

Watch this video, because it makes me all warm inside.

That shake, is music to my lush ears.

What I’m saying is, while the world could do with robots in other places of our daily lives (like cleaning, etc), they have no place in any drinking establishment.



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