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Booze bots: meet the robots that could be serving you drinks

Byte-size Bulletin by Rachael Brown in News on Dec 22, 2021


Picture this.

You're out in a packed nightclub, or at the football, or a casino, checking the time on your phone.

You’ve been waiting in line for a drink for 20 minutes now, and the queue doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter. It’s not the bar staff's fault - it’s a busy night and more people than they can serve are crowding the bar, drunk, rowdy and demanding. You wonder, what if we had a more efficient, and humane way, to handle high demand situations like this?


Technology being utilised to boost bartending performance is nothing new. You’ve probably heard of or experienced the bar tech at Wembley stadium and Tottenham Hotspur that uses magnets to fill pints from the bottom up.

But fully robotic mixologists like Cecilia, created by the Israeli firm Cecilia.AI, are a step up. A step up that could be coming soon to a club or corporate event near you.

Described as the “interactive bartender for every occasion” by CEO Elad Kobi, each robot can serve a whopping 120 cocktails per hour.

They operate via voice recognition and AI technology, with the company promising these bots can deliver both drinks and friendly conversation.

Users can either vocally or physically, via touchscreen, order their drink, which the robot then mixes live using its 70 litres of different spirits, and then dispenses into a glass.

These robots are generating both excitement and concern from customers, bar staff and venue owners alike.

They have been welcomed with open arms at big corporate events, already being used by Microsoft, Accountancy group KPMG and tech firm Cisco.

This is not just because they are highly efficient, and give these opportunities a chance to impress with flashy tech. They also possess a lot of marketing capabilities.

Cecilia can be programmed with a drinks brand’s logo and design, lit up with its trademark colours. Advertising slogans and banners can also be added to its touch-screen menu.

What’s more, the robot bartender can dive into a brand’s target audience, gleaning its favourite drinks, peak times, and commonly used keywords to get invaluable insights and increase sales.

For big social events, like festivals and club nights where massive crowds of people mean bartending becomes a struggle to serve people as quickly as possible, it's been argued these robots would be a godsend.

Cecilia has the ability to follow cocktail recipes with precision, perfectly measuring out shots and mixers, and even has a racy Disco Mode to match the party vibe.

Some would argue this benefits bar staff, by automating jobs that are stressful, intense and tiring, which have a high risk of being harassed. Others argue these robots risk replacing bar staff altogether, which  based on the responses of many organisations to them is unlikely to be the case.

Many pubs and bars, like Wetherspoons, have publicly stated they will not have robot bartenders in their establishments.

Which, in the context of a pub or casual bar is understandable, as these are more relaxed, traditional venues with a more explicit focus on socialising. In addition to this, pubs and bars provide an option for local employment, which is crucial in areas with less developed economic infrastructure.

There is another reason some organisations may reject robot bartenders. They can’t (or don’t want to) afford them. At £34,000 a robot doesn’t come cheap, with repairs (likely, due to drunk patrons) costing high amounts.

By contrast, your average bartender in the UK only makes a salary of £16,992 a year. Meaning some bosses may stress the importance of keeping human staff- if only to increase their own short term profits.

Either way, the rise of these robots illustrate the importance technological automation and innovation continues to play in the worlds of both work and play. Companies should continue to take note of these developments, as more and more services become inescapably intertwined with tech.


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