This robotic bartender is like a Star Trek replicator for booze

Monsieur robotic bartender

There’s nothing quite like winding down from a long day crammed with chores, responsibilities, and interactions with a cold Whiskey Sour – or whatever cocktail you prefer. Now what if you could cut out the bar and the DIY, and automatically find yourself with a cold drink in hand?

Introducing Monsieur, a Kickstarter project that’s like a combination of The Jetsons and Mad Men. That’s right: He’s a robot bartender and he’s here to serve. 

Meet Monsieur

The Monsieur bartender unit comes built-in with eight airtight containers you can easily and quickly fill up with cocktail ingredients of your choosing as well as four bottle closures if you want to source liquor straight from its original bottle. What makes the machine extra-special is that you don’t have to worry about knowing what cocktail you want, or how exactly to make it – Monsieur will do all the thinking and making for you.

Through an Android tablet integrated into the unit, a user can choose from a variety of themes, each one preset with 25 cocktail recipes that fit each profile. Boys only night? Choose the Cigar Bar theme and dish out cocktails Don Draper would be proud of. If fruity drinks are more your taste, try the Girl’s Night Out theme (yes, Monsieur sticks to gender binary norms). Monsieur knows approximately 300 drink recipes – which is more than enough to start with – and can produce up to 150 drinks without refilling.

Your Monsieur unit can even be configured to make celebratory drinks when your favorite sports team wins.

Once you choose a theme, you are given a list of ingredients you will need to load your machine with according to what’s needed for the cocktails in the profile. Monsieur comes with a list of pre-tailored recipes for people who know exactly what they want. But the machine’s bread and butter is its Recommendations feature, which intelligently learns about your taste the more you use the machine and remembers all your past drink orders. It uses Wi-Fi, bluetooth, and Zigbee to know when you’re home – should you happen to arrive later than usual, Monsieur (correctly) assumes that you’ve had a stressful day at work and offers you a double instead of a single. It can also tell when you’re on a date (provided that your companion logs onto your network) and offers them a cocktail as well. Additionally, your Monsieur unit can be configured to make celebratory drinks when your favorite sports team wins.

Monsieur’s screen also comes with filters to convert the unit into a cocktail slot machine of sorts: You can lock up to three drink components that include ingredient and flavor of choice as well as cocktail type. It randomly generates a drink selection and shows you a short description of it. The added oomph at this point is the Strength Slider, which is labeled “Light” all the way up to “Boss” – if you’re the designated driver, you can go light on the liquor; if you intend to get schmammered like there’s no tomorrow, Monsieur will see to it. If you’re feeling rather adventurous, tap on the Surprise Me button and have Monsieur generate a random drink for you. And finally, since it (correctly) assumes that you’re probably too busy getting your cocktail on to keep tabs on your bartender machine, Monsieur is wired to provide automatic refill delivery, as in it sends you a text to remind you of ingredients that you are running low on.

You can control Monsieur via mobile app. It has complete social network integration, in case you want to brag about getting drunk on Facebook. And by getting drunk, I meant responsibly drinking, since the app keeps track of your drinks and alerts you when you’ve had enough. And just to prove how smart it is, it assumes that you will ignore all alerts anyway and help you get a cab through Uber if necessary. 

What makes the concept of controlling Monsieur via app revolutionary is its ability to let you skip the cocktail queue – whether you’re on your way home, at some function, or a restaurant, as long as there’s a Monsieur machine in your vicinity, you can order your drink on your phone and have it ready and waiting by the time you walk up to it.

Bonsoir! Hands on with Monsieur 

I had the opportunity to get drinks with Monsieur at a recent demo. Prior to, everything I read about the artificially intelligent robotic bartender impressed me to no end. However, I found out that actually using it was a completely different experience, with a few surprises in store.

First of all: The machine is actually fairly easy to use – although the package comes with a user guide, there’s really no reason for it. What you see is what you eventually will get. The elegant interface and beautiful photos depicting the available cocktails are enough to whet your appetite.

Monsieur robotic bartender

The Monsieur unit we tested came with eight available containers for drink components – the Monsieur Mini, we’re told, only has four – and the way they’re arranged within the unit makes room for easy setup and cleanup. What really drove home the machine’s amazing abilities for me was the idea that with only a couple of ingredients, it can create an incredibly impressive array of drink possibilities. 30 possible combinations is a lot for one night; too many, some might say.

A word of warning: no frozen margaritas. And obviously, bartender banter is out. 

For my first drink, I ran the recommendations filter by declaring two things: Vodka (because it’s my favorite liquor) and fruity for flavor (because I didn’t want to immediately go whole hog on the job). After a couple of seconds randomizing, it brought me a drink called a Victoria Secret, a cocktail I’ve never heard of before (so you can imagine my excitement to try it). The description according to Monsieur: “This light pink cocktail is a delicate mix of cranberry juice, orange liqueur, peach schnapps, and vodka.” Since it was my first time, I set the strength slider to light and waited for my drink to be prepared.

I liked it a lot – the cranberry juice fit perfectly with the vodka and the drink had just the right amount of ‘fruity’ in it. I liked it so much that I ordered it again, this time setting the strength slider to “boss.” All in the interest of a thorough review, of course. I liked it so much, I might have shared the drink made by Monsieur to Facebook or Twitter, but the unit was linked to our demonstrator’s account, so I wasn’t able to try this. But I like the idea of letting the world know a robot just made me a drink, and yes it’s delicious – and I like the idea of potentially seeing that posted on a social site and then being able to try and recreate the drink myself, or ask for it next time I’m at the bar. There are tons of drink suggestion apps, but it’s certainly intriguing to try something made by a machine. It’s ideas like this that are bringing a truly social element to social media platforms. 

Seeing the mobile app at work was almost like magic – one can immediately see the machine’s potential when it’s situated at different locations. At a bar, you can easily avoid atrocious lines (especially during happy hours) and overworking the poor bartender manning the booth solo. At an exclusive club where you usually pay an exorbitant amount of money for bottle service, you can at least enjoy a wider variety of drinks.

There’s always a hangover … 

Of course, it’s not all good news, and despite being slightly inebriated, I noted areas for improvement.

The filter dials actually kept giving me the same ingredient results, making me think the machine’s randomizer was not as random as it purported to be. Maybe it had more to do with the availability of the components (at one point we ran low on orange juice, which is one of the components for the Tiki Bar theme) or the fact that I wasn’t really logged onto the machine with my taste profile, so it didn’t know who I was. And because I only wanted vodka, Monsieur had a hard time coming up with new ideas for me to choose through. 

While the available drink recipes were already impressive as is, I still couldn’t help but think of all the cocktails that required a certain je ne sais quoi, like shaved ice, perhaps, or muddled fruit or mint. A word of warning: no frozen margaritas. And obviously, bartender banter is out. 

And it’s worth mentioning that getting a bit too buzzed and tweeting or Facebooking about your every drink isn’t advised. Sure, your Whiskey goggles might make you think letting your social circle know about every amazing Monsieur-made drink you’re imbibing is a great idea, but seeing that stream of spam the next day will make you realize it wasn’t a good look. 

At the end of the day, all these tweaks are secondary and Monsieur is just at the beginning of its already promising future. Sure, a built-in ice maker or automated cup dispenser could definitely complete the package, but it already provides so much that maybe, just maybe, it’s worth the money. A lot of people seem to think so – Monsieur is currently on the last week of its Kickstarter campaign, which successfully met its initial $100,000 goal only after two weeks of being live, and is still continuing to surpass it as of this writing. Almost all initial units in production – currently priced at $2,700 for the standard 8-pump for U.S. and Canadian residents – have been backed up, a sure sign of future demand for the product.

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