Since quite some time there are discussions, if technology is replacing bartenders.
And some people in the industry take a clear stance against other people, who like to implement further technology in the bar industry.
If you have read some of my posts here, you will know, that I am not afraid of progress, I rather like to embrace it. However it has to be done right. I think, that technology should not lower the quality.
And this is exactly the purpose of this post.
Please check out the background of the Somarbar Robotic Bartender on Kickstarter. It seems that some "nerdy engineering guys", put it in their mind, to produce a cocktail making machine. They don't seem to really have sought any consultancy of a bar expert, nor do they seem to be at anyway affluent with this topic.
Here are my complaints:
- Calling it a Robotic Bartender is a far stretch.
- The machine is solely measuring and "blending" ingredients together.
- There is no ice or chilling in the progress
- There "seems to be no dilution" in the process
- There is no emphasis on recipes
- The beverage containers are not chilled
- 6 ingredients is very limiting
- Cleaning seems to be questionable
- They are dropping "mixology" and "craft cocktails" - however don't really understand what this means.
- It is simply a toy.
1) The duties of a bartender is not limited to measure and pour drinks into a glass. A bartender leads conversation, recommends drinks, cut off guests, who have one to many, make every guest comfortable - controls the experience in a bar. He also mixes a drink the right way, with extensively learned skills - using adequate ice, using pre-chilled glasses and so on. This machine only does a minuscule task of a bartenders routine. And yeah- to call something robot is quite fashionable, and as per definition you could call it like that - personally I call it rather an automat - because it just automatises the task of measuring and pouring all ingredients together.
2) Mixing drinks is more than pouring all ingredients into a glass and make sure, that they are properly mixed. A good tasting cocktail has a temperature between -3ºC and -6ºC, which is achieved with ice (basically it is the melting of the ice which results into a big "energy void", which results the liquid to loose temperature). The machine could chill the liquid in a rather expensive and elaborate way, but there is no signs, that it does this (and the price also suggest, that this didn't happened).
3) As the previous point stated, ice is elementary in mixing. A "cocktail robot" which doesn't include ice, is actually not really worth to review at any means.
4) It is another "ice topic". Ice not only chills a drink to a acceptable temperature - it also dilutes the drink. If beverages are solely poured together, they might will have a strength of above 40% (a Martini cocktail) to around 25% abv. Highballs and Longdrinks are lower (that is also, that it is not "that" important to shake them). However if you mix drinks, you will have a dilution of about 50% to 100% - which makes the cocktail enjoyable. The system has a tank, which seems to be able to flush the machine - however it seems not big enough, to replace the water in the drink, which is usually melting through the mixing progress.
5) A great bartender uses great recipes. I took about 10 years in the bar trade to distinguish between good recipes and bad ones. But this company seems to have no emphasis on researching anything of it.
6) This is a big one - the beverage containers are not chilled (and not under a vacuum). This is perfectly fine for spirits - but it is not for vermouth (degrades very fast) and especially juices. Yes - you can put the things in the fridge - but this brings this machine ad absurdum... if you have to set up the machine, every time you want to have a drink, it is just a party gag - nothing more.
7) Seven ingredients are extremely limiting. Given that a Cosmopolitan (and let's face it, this is the type of drink, which consumers aspire to get mixed) has already 4 ingredients (citrus vodka, orange liqueur, lime, cranberry), there is little leeway. Sure, you could also make a cape cod, and with a couple of other ingredients some more drinks, but even in a party it seems not enough. A whiskey sour would kind of work (if you swap the lemon juice for lime and add whiskey and simple syrup), but then you would already fail with a Manhattan a Martini cocktail, and a Margarita....
8) Whoever cleaned a bar knows, how sticky syrups, liqueurs and juices can be. Yes- the containers can be cleaned in a dishwater, but what is about the pipes, and the elaborate blending mechanism? Solely flushing it with little water won't be enough, and soon you have a bacterial & fungus Screwdriver!
9) This is a big one for me: The just throw in "craft cocktails" and mixology into their "advertisement", but simply don't know what they are talking about. To make craft cocktails doesn't mean, to measure the ingredients right. It is about house-crafted, unique ingredients, great quality liquor, an ice program and elaborate cocktail preparation - non of this has anything to do with this machine!
It seems not at all fit the bill - and while some issues are still questionable, I wouldn't mind, if they would not have overpromised and underdelivered that much. Calling it a Robotic Bartender promises something, which this automat didn't at all deliver.
It doesn't even make anything (but only the measuring step) easier, faster or better.
For some of us, it will be a huge relief, that this Somarbar isn't a step closer to replace the bartender. For me it is just frustrating, that the job of a bartender is so misunderstood.
What do you think, about this beautiful designed piece of scrap metal?