This week at Housewares I caught up with Somabar, a company that makes cocktail-mixing robots.

I talked to company CEO, Dylan Purcell Lowe, who told me they’ve started production of the company’s robot bartender, which won best of show for the appliance category at CES 2016.  The device, which you can preorder for $429, is now in the hands of beta testers. The company expects to start shipping new orders by fall of this year.

According to Purcell Lowe, interest in the Somabar has come from both the consumer and professional/enterprise markets. The device, which has enough capacity to serve up to 300 drinks, would work well in hotels or restaurants according says Purcell Lowe, which is why their next generation Somabar will come in two versions: one for consumer and one for the pro market.

You can check out my interview with Purcell Lowe above and watch a quick walk-through of the Somabar below via Instagram.

We checked out the Somabar robotic bartender at #ihhs2017. #futureofdrink #foodtech #robotics

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  1. This is absolutely the most idiotic thing in the history of dumb B School “disruptors” trying to rip people off by simply copying an existing successful idea and trying to apply it to another market. Dylan has NO CLUE what he is doing with regard to cocktails.

    Where to begin…

    First off, this machine simply mixes ingredients together. For $500 this machine does nothing more than the act of you opening a bottle and pouring out an ingredient into a glass. Period. Why is this important? Well, simply “mixing” the ingredients is not the point of shaking or stirring a cocktail. You shake or stir specifically to chill and dilute (and aerate in the case of shaking) the drink. This device does none of those things. So, while their website will attempt to wow you with terms like “static vanes” and “kinetic energy” and “turbulence”, the reality is that it is meaningless tripe. There is no chilling done, as they had to remove any chilling mechanism to save money – apparently for all those static vanes? You do also need to dilute a cocktail. A cocktail is ~25% water. So, congrats, you have a $500 device that pours the ingredients into a glass, which if you a proper craft cocktail, requires you to now shake or stir with ice in order to get cold and diluted. WHAT????

    The second issue here is that you have only 6 pods. If you want to make multiple cocktails for a party, let alone the “300” Dylan claims, there is no way in hell you can do this with 6 pods. Which means you’ll have to buy more pods, or you’ll have to empty the pods, clean the pods, and refill the pods with different ingredients. Gin, bourbon, tequila, vodka, rum, brandy. Just those 6 spirits and you’re left with no more pods. Simple Syrups, citrus, modifiers, bitters, etc. In the time it will take Dylan to swap out the somapods ingredients to make someone a Whiskey Sour (which he really can’t but whatever), then to make someone else a Margarita, a human with any semblance of hands will be drinking FAR BETTER cocktails before either of these criminals have made one. Again, Dylan wants you to buy more pods at a ridiculous markup. Dylan has no idea how cocktails are made, or why. Dylan want to take your money.

    Third, if you are using citrus juice or vermouths in any of your cocktails, your pods are pointless, as citrus juice goes bad rapidly and vermouth goes bad over weeks if not refrigerated and minimizing the exposure to oxygen. You can’t juice a bunch of lemons and leave your juice sitting in a pod for days. 12 hours is about the extent before it goes bad. And, if you say “buy sour mix” or “pre-made juice”, then again, this thing is not delivering on “craft” cocktails as Dylan states, but garbage cocktails which surely don’t require any precision measurement of ingredients. The squeezing of citrus is probably the most complicated part of making a cocktail. (hint it’s not that complicated) If you can squeeze citrus, there is no point whatsoever for you to then let a godawful $500 machine that takes up enormous counter space to “bring out the mixologist” in you.

    Fourth, there are several ingredients used in countless cocktails that will not work in this system. Simple Syrups are the most obvious example here. 1:1 syrups alone, let alone 2:1 or other types of syrups will be a disaster in this garbage machine. They are simply too thick to be expected to work well in a “somapad”. The biggest offender however, would be egg whites which are used in a ton of drinks, including the Whiskey Sour shown multiple times in the app in their video. Beyond the fact that there is no way this garbage machine will pump egg whites in any reasonable fashion, Egg Whites MUST be shaken. “Static Vanes” are not going to do the job.

    Fifth, there are dozens of cocktails with various ingredients used in fractions of an amount. A Vieux Carre uses Cognac, Rye, Vermouth and Benedictine. (NOTE none of these are ingredients in the 6 basic spirits I mentioned above of Gin, bourbon, tequila, vodka, rum, brandy) And, it’s .25 oz of Benedictine. Does it make any sense whatsoever to dedicate one whole pod to a bottle of Benedictine which will be used at a quarter of an ounce at a time.

    This is lunacy. These guys have no originality and looked at a Keurig and said “derp what other beverages can a Keurig type machine do automatically” with absolutely no idea at all how cocktails are made or why they are made the way they are. You are paying for a machine to pour ingredients in a glass. Poorly. Warm. Horribly. That’s it. If you can’t pour liquids into a glass, I think you probably have bigger issues than how to make craft cocktails at home.

    This thing will not make good cocktails. It will not make 300 cocktails. It will not be simple and easy and clean. It will take a huge amount of counter space, you will be required to store dozens of pods throughout your refrigerator and house or swap out ingredients all the time, it will not actually chill your drinks, it will not dilute your drinks, and it cannot deal effectively with ANY drink that is supposed to be shaken.

    This is the “tech” industry today. Taking a marginally successful idea of someone else and trying to force fit it into another segment without a clue about that segment. \

    $12 in shaking tins and $4 in a jigger will do everything this thing claims. And will make far superior drinks.

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