The Robot Bartender


While technology has yet to advance to the point of a ‘Jetsons’-style drink-serving robot, the creators of Monsieur, an artificially intelligent cocktail-making machine, are bringing us one step closer.

Invented by two Georgia Tech grads, Barry Givens and Eric Williams, the machine holds up to eight ingredients stored internally in the included 30-ounce containers or whatever 750ml bottle you choose (even wine). Then, depending on which ingredients are loaded, it offers a variety of cocktails based on recipes and menus created by experienced mixologists.

There are a variety of pre-programmed themes to choose from – Tiki Bar, Irish Pub, Cigar Bar, among others – that offer up to 25 drinks each, and you’ll have the opportunity to customize the menus, tweaking the existing drinks to your specifications or creating something completely new. If you’re not sure what you want to drink, Monsieur can make recommendations based on your taste and ordering history, or you can roll the dice and hit “Surprise Me.” All of these requests can be programmed and tweaked on a sandwich-size LCD touchscreen above the faucet where the drink comes out.

When we tried Monsieur, the machine held vodka, cognac, coconut rum, triple sec, and peach schnapps for the booze, and pineapple, orange, and cranberry juices for the mixers. To get a recommendation from Monsieur, we selected cognac as the base liquor and “Manly” as the descriptor, then hit the “Surprise Me” function; the machine suggested a Sidecar and listed all the ingredients on the LCD screen. Though we passed on the option to upgrade it to a “Boss,” which contains an extra 10 percent of alcohol, we received our drink almost instantly, since the machine simultaneously pours all the ingredients at a rate of an ounce per second, not unlike a super-automatic coffeemaker.

As co-founder and CEO Barry Givens explained to us over machine-made drinks, the idea is that Monsieur will be used everywhere from someone’s kitchen (there’s a four-container, at-home version that you can order as of today) to clubs, hotels, and stadiums, where customers will be able to order their drinks via Monsieur’s mobile app. “With bottle service in a nightclub, where you’re paying $500 for a bottle, they basically come to your table with a tray, cranberry and orange juice, and you make your own drinks the entire night,” he says. “You’re the most important customer of the establishment but you’re getting the worst service.”

The aim of Monsieur is to change that: An automated drinks maker may well improve the level of drinks and service you get at bars and clubs in the future, much in the same way that super-automatic coffeemakers have enabled full-fledged cappuccinos and lattes to be available everywhere from office kitchens to corner delis.

At home, if you’re so inclined, the mobile app can be programmed to offer you a drink after your favorite sports team wins or when it senses that you’re getting home from work. If you’re coming home from the office late, it’ll even ask if you want a double, just in case it’s been a rough day.

Down the line, Givens envisions built-in ice dispensers, as well as the capability to include ingredients such as bitters that don’t lend themselves to 750ml bottles.

The only downside to having a robot bartender at home? Monsieur can sling tasty drinks, but he’s not good at making conversation, so don’t expect him to listen to your troubles or tell you a good joke.

[$1,499 for the four-ingredient version, and $2,699; and]

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