If you feel that your life is incomplete, what’s probably missing is a robotic bartender. I’m not referring to a guy making drinks with no personality or expression on his face, but rather to the ultimate combination of technology and debauchery: the Bartendro.
The Bartendro is the brainchild of two entrepreneurs form California, Robert Kaye and Pierre Michael. Their previous contributions to civilization include gadgets such as the Water-to-Wine cooler, which they invented for a friend’s Jesus-themed birthday party. The device is more illusion than transubstantiation, but it works well enough to fool partygoers. Let’s not forget that the original water-to-wine miracle was performed at a wedding reception where the caterer had neglected to supply the appropriate libations.
The Bartendro is a triumph of technology, simple and ingenious at the same time. At first glance, it looks like a Rube Goldberg variation on a Cruvinet or Enomatic machine. Food-grade tubing connects bottles of booze to a router board powered by a sophisticated electronic system; liquids are forced through the tubes into the waiting glass by a series of peristaltic pumps (similar to the ones used to dispense medication in hospitals). Prototypes have been built with 3, 5, 7 and 15 dispensers. Do the math, and you’ll realize that the 15-dispenser version has a dizzying number of cocktail combinations.
The Bartendro isn’t in full-scale production quite yet, but that moment appears to be coming very soon. Kaye and Michael have been raised their seed money on Kickstarter, a crowd-funding platform that allows consumers to make donations to projects they consider worthwhile. The Bartendro exceeded its goals, and will shortly move beyond the prototype stage.
There are a few disadvantages to the Bartendro. At the moment, the machine doesn’t seem to process carbonated liquids very well, so certain drinks are automatically eliminated from its range. The gadget is mechanical and not aesthetic, so the quality of the cocktails you receive will depend on the ingredients you put into it; as with hand-made drinks, it’s advisable to use only premium liquor, freshly squeezed juices, etc. It will not lend a sympathetic ear if you’ve had a tough day, nor will you be able to obtain a better or stronger drink by giving it a large tip.
On the other hand, Bartendro is portable, so you can put it in the car and bring it with you to a party. While only a machine, it’s likely to enhance your social life and make you one of the most popular people around.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, published by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot); for more information, go to iconicspirits.net.