Meet the Robots Who Will Steal Bartenders' Jobs (or Not)

By Bryan Lufkin on at

So, they say robots are supposed to be stealing all our jobs. Soon. And service jobs at especially at risk. Included in that group? Those who usher us through the magical portal of happy hour: bartenders.

The past couple of years, we’ve seen prototypes and crowdfunding projects for fancy, automated booze slingers that make the drink-ordering process easier, faster (ideally), and even more personalised with a bunch of options you can input on a smartphone app.

Cool, but can you still drunkenly shoot the breeze with a shot-gifting machine? Will they cut you off after you’ve gone too hard after a crappy day? Alcohol is such an inherently social thing, and being social is an inherently human thing. Might be kinda weird at first, but depending on how good a precisely programmed sazerac tastes, I’d be down.

Meet a few of the bartenders of the future. Another question: Do you have to tip?

Makr Shakr

These robotic, barkeeping arms debuted last month aboard Royal Caribbean’s “smart cruise,” Anthem of the Seas. The limbs were developed at MIT, and take orders through a smartphone app that also fields crowd-sourced cocktail recipes. The robots can shake, garnish, and serve, modelling its gestures after a dancer at the New York Theatre Ballet.

I’d love to see the arms suddenly assume a fistacuffs position and robo-pummel anyone who starts a bar fight, but I’m guessing it’s not programmed for violence.


Meet the Robots Who Will Steal Bartenders' Jobs (or Not)

This one’s like that crazy Coke machine that has 200 different drinks in it. Monsieur, or what I like to call Happy Booze Box, is equipped to store eight different ingredients (a combo of spirits and mixers); six chilled, two at room temp. Stick your cup in the compartment, pick a cocktail from the on-screen menu, and place your order. Your libation is dispensed automatically.


The PR2 dual-arm mobile robot from Willow Garage can roam around a room to do a lot of things, but can also be a drink-and-snack-fetching server. It maps out the furniture in a room and is designed to navigate real-world rooms that are filled with clutter. And lots of tables. And maybe drunk people.


Another at-home countertop bartender that would’ve been way too popular if it had existed in Don Draper’s office. Somabar reached its Kickstarter goal earlier this year and promises that each unit could make 300 cocktails. Just fill the cylindrical, Brave New World-sounding “soma pods” with your liquid ingredients of choice. The ingredients are pumped from the pods, mixed within the machine, and served in seconds.

Image credits: Makr Shakr, Monsieur