Rise Of The Robots

Robotic bartenders are emerging as viable mixologists in tech-savvy venues.

Robotics company Makr Shakr has created robot mixologist prototypes for bars. Its Toni model, with two arms, at the Tipsy Robot venues in Las Vegas (pictured) can make up to 80 drinks an hour.
Robotics company Makr Shakr has created robot mixologist prototypes for bars. Its Toni model, with two arms, at the Tipsy Robot venues in Las Vegas (pictured) can make up to 80 drinks an hour.

 It’s like a scene from a futuristic sci-fi movie: A patron walks into a bar manned by a large robotic arm, orders a cocktail from a digital mobile interface, and is served a cocktail crafted by a robot bartender. And it’s happening now at bars around the globe. As technology continues to be a driving force in every facet of life and businesses explore new ways to integrate hi-tech gadgets into the everyday, the bar industry is learning firsthand about machine-led mixology.

Italian company Makr Shakr is at the forefront of robotic bartending, offering three robot models specifically made to mix drinks. The company has robot placements at bars in Las Vegas and Biloxi, Mississippi, as well as on several Miami-based Royal Caribbean cruises, and in international locales like Prague, Amsterdam, London, and Birmingham, United Kingdom. Makr Shakr’s first robot bartender debuted in 2013 at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco and it was intended to be a one-time installation, but people immediately took interest.

“The project began as an investigation of human interaction with technology in the creation and enjoyment of beverages,” says Makr Shakr CEO Emanuele Rossetti. “As robotics becomes more prevalent in everyday life, the goal is to demonstrate how our robotic counterparts can establish social bonds. The robots possess the ability to cater to a wide array of beverage preferences, seamlessly serving hot beverages, long drinks, shots, mocktails, cocktails, and beer. What sets apart a drink made by a human from one crafted by our robots is our precise repetition. Our robotic bartenders leave no space for human error, ensuring uniform quality every time.”

Makr Shakr offers three robot bartender models. Its primary mixologist is called Toni, and it features a bar display that holds more than 150 bottles of spirits and mixers hanging upside down, two robotic arms that mix drinks, and a bar counter where the robot places its finished concoctions. People order from a tablet that has a digital menu—guests can order from any number of preset cocktails that were created by a human mixologist, and they can also create their own drinks through the technology platform by specifying the spirits and mixers they want in their cocktail. Toni can mix up to 80 drinks in an hour. The company’s other models include Compatto, which is set up similarly to Toni but with the addition of a coffee machine to make hot drinks, and Veloce, which is built for speed and holds less bottles of spirits but can make upwards of 250 drinks in an hour. In Las Vegas, Makr Shakr robots are featured at the Tipsy Robot bars in The Venetian and Planet Hollywood resorts, and in Biloxi, Mississippi the company recently added a robot to the new venue Robo Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. 

“The response from people is consistently positive, as they tend to be intrigued and fascinated by the functionalities and movements of our robots,” Rossetti says. “Factors such as customer demand, a competitive edge, and the desire for efficiency drive the evolving trend of integrating technology within bars.”

The next step is an exploration into artificial intelligence—or AI—at the bar. Human bartenders admit to already experimenting with the use of AI technologies like ChatGPT to create new cocktails and flesh out menus. ChatGPT and its new sister site BarGPT allow users to input parameters for a drink—like desired flavor combinations or even a well-known starting cocktail with requested modifications—and the system spits out new drinks recipes that match the request. 

Makr Shakr is experimenting with AI technologies too. “AI has the potential to speed up decision making, and we may use data analytics to evaluate client preferences, historical patterns, and real-time interactions to introduce a predictive component to our products that could be incredibly valuable in responding to individual preferences,” Rossetti says. “Ultimately, the goal isn’t to replace humans but to create synergy between human interaction and the efficiency offered by technology. Achieving a balance between the human touch and technological advancements is essential for long-term success in the hospitality industry.”