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Change - will the job as bartender disappear?

When I discussed on linkedin.com my last more substential blog entry - about the app-linked cocktail scale system, it suddenly stroke me:

What if not only assisting technologies like this are popping up, but complete machines, which can mix beverages?
Lets face it: we are in an age of self driving cars [ok, in prototype stadium - however driving assistants and self-parking cars are already commercial reality] - mixing a drink after a recipe is much less complex than, e.g. driving a car.
And there are already numerous prototypes [e.g. here or here].
Usually these things are made by people, who really don't have an adequate knowledge of mixology or an understanding of the operation of a drinking establishment, to pull this off [they have the knowledge to solve the technical problems...]. Therefore the automates are not very… convincing.

Trust me - the developments never stop and soon, bartenders might be facing systems like this:

If these systems will be more adapted, it is a given, that the last piece of resistance [shaking, stirring, top shelf spirits] will also be automated.

Now you might think, why should any bar go this route. A system like this could cost 10's of thousands, if not 100's of thousands dollars.
You might be not involved in financial details of venues [profit & loss], like I am. Since I can think of, there are two major things of concerns, if you are reading your outlet P & L: payroll and beverage cost [and - food cost - but this is another story].

Guess what - these systems would improve both points significantly

You might think, that I, as a quality bar personality, should be mourning about developments like that. However I don't need a reality check, to understand, that this developments are natural and will come inevitable - over long or short. And sure - there are also substantial advantages:
  • Accuracy - no bartender, if with jigger or free-pouring, can consistently pour as accurate as a machine.
  • Automates don't do buybacks [and the service person, cannot do it, due to the immediate stock control]. Machines just ain't stealing.
  • A machine won't drink
  • Speed of service
  • Quality of drinks [proportions]
  • Consistency
  • Efficiency [higher output with lower manpower]
  • No sick leaves
  • No social insurance or labor related costs [ok - service costs, which will be much lower]
Now, there are definitely some bars, which will be based on drinks, mixed by bartenders- even in the future. Craft bars. But lets face it, college dives, most [or rather: especially] nightclubs and even most "normal" bars and restaurants / restaurant bars, would even benefit from such a system. Following points, would ensure, that it would be on par, or even outshine your average gifted bartender:
  • Automat is pressing fresh fruit [especially lime and lemon].
  • Heat sensitive products are chilled [e.g. fruit liqueurs, vermouths, wine aperitifs, etc].
  • Oxygen sensitive products have a system, which prevents oxidization [e.g. vermouth, wine aperitifs, wines].
  • Self cleaning.
  • Interface is intuitive.
  • Adjustments and new recipes can be done easily.
  • System is very modular.
When I discuss topics like this, a lot of [usually a bit more conservative] bartenders, are rejecting, that technology can be better as the human. But this is not true. Technology and automated systems proofed in pretty much every single area of modern lives to be superior - especially when the teething problems are overcome.
You won't have automatization in the service industry? Think again - what about your e-check-in on airports or cinemas?

Does the beverage-minded person loses necessarily his/her job?

Not at all! There are two areas, where a machine [at least probably not in my lifetime] isn't superior: Human interaction and creativity/understanding recipes. 

The Host (Human Interaction):
I've wrote about this before: there are two main-type of characters in bars: the host and the mixologist. 
When we are talking about the host, following qualities are coming to my mind:
He/she connects with guests, listen to their sorrows, can connect two different guests and so on. Fact is, for a bartender, which has a strong strength in this area, a machine would really come handy- he/she could spend much more time with the guests themselves, without being interrupted by drink preparation.

Mixologist:
You have to feed a recipe to a machine. It definitely cannot make any drink without. So either way creating new recipes, selecting or tweaking older ones- this area needs definitely a strong expert. I just hope, that the developing companies as well as the venue-owners don't overestimate their expertise, but really relying on bar experts…



So - while the whole future looks a bit scary - with all the new technology, great bartenders still have their refuge, where they can apply their expertise.
And truth has to be told - I guess that really top of the line machines will not appear before 5 years from now. However by then, I don't plan to go into early retirement [and a lot of you, will be not anyway old enough to consider to do this anytime soon].

Instead of ignoring or fighting against this technology, embrace it and already work now on strategies to find your respective spot, maybe even to benefit out of the development.

Brave new world...


And here just an encouragement for those, who still think, that keeping the status quo, is the way to go:




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