Girl About Globe | Daiquiri Daleks

Linda Kennedy

Sci fi has not been good to the female waiting at the bar. It’s when women dematerialize.

We’ve all been there. Endlessly lingering. Hopelessly waving. It could be the person in front has ordered five French martinis. More likely, the bar tender isn’t seeing you. At such moments, I wonder: did Doctor Who just say ‘Tardis for Kennedy’?

But, lady humans, things could be changing. I learned this week Royal Caribbean Cruises are using a robot bartender which can deal with 30 different ingredients, and produce ‘a drink per minute per arm’ or 120 cocktails an hour, so will just about keep up with demand on Wyndham Street in Hong Kong on a Friday night.

It’s part of the much discussed automation of the food and beverage industry which has recently seen pizza topping being applied by robots in California restaurants, and cappuccinos being made by skinny Robo Caps.

The cruise company says their robots, which serve in Bionic Bars, are mainly for novelty value. Apparently studies have shown humans still mix the best drinks. But real life bartenders have peripheral vision that neglects women and that leaves a bad taste in the mouth which no subsequent cocktail can wash away. A robot bar tender could be different. It could be programmed to SERVE WOMEN FIRST. Do bar owners worldwide realize the potential of offering quickies? ‘Ladies Night. Your drink, in a blink.’

These days, of course, there are a range of forms automation takes. The Royal Caribbean bar tender robot looks metallic, with hinged limbs. Hence there’s a cool retro robot vibe. Think Daiquiri dalek.

Could a next generation bar-tending robot advance this? Might it be an algorithm with voice recognition tech which will 3D print your class of Merlot? (Actually, don’t order wine. An algorithm making an ‘Old-Fashioned’ would be far more delicious.) Look out for a mobile sitcom. ‘Cheers 3.0’. Where the Internet of Things knows your smart drink.’

Women in STEM, get onto this career track. Work out how to programme bar tech so its sensors are more aware of women waiting. No, I don’t know how you do this. Perfume reactiveness? High receptiveness to iterations of the phrase ‘excuse ME but I was here first’? Voice pitch differentiation?

Once that’s sorted, have some retaliatory fun with men. If you can include some facial recognition tech, have it scan blokes and only pour them some rosé bubbles till programmed otherwise. Go girl. I mean, go lady human.

Or am I being old school about this? Maybe you shouldn’t actually go to the bar and communicate the order, but order by app and the robot delivers to your table.

Women would definitely be at an advantage, seeing as most men’s opening lines in tech comms are  ‘how u?’  which in this case would be  ‘u make 5 beer emojis?’

Mind you. Or even mind u. Uber suspended its self-driving car programme this week after a crash. What if robotic bar tenders were to collide with each other, and we ended up waiting even longer? 

There are wider issues. Like, will automation remodel beloved cocktails? A ‘Silicon Valley’ rather than a ‘Manhattan’. An Apple martini with a trademark? A ‘Screwdriver’ was probably cutting edge once. Does it, in high tech times, become a ‘Patch’?  Will a Sea Breeze becomes a ‘Sea Air Con’.

Inevitably there will be a mixologist strike, as the bartenders of the world down their limes, protesting about job losses. Poor guys. You should have served us first.

Let’s hope there’s no element of virtual reality in all this. I would actually like that cocktail.

Categories Opinion