|Your essentials may differ.|
I was more of a beer and wine guy. I liked cocktails, but they seemed a little unapproachable. Whenever I was going to make a drink, it was messy and I was always wondering, "Is this what my drink is supposed to taste like?" So we set out to make a robot that would automate the pouring and get rid of the guesswork and the messiness.
Maybe it's just the way I was brought up to overcome challenges, but we ought to learn skills and techniques to make tasks easier and experiences more enjoyable. Bartending isn't mathematics. Sure, formulas come into it, but actual skills and knowledge are at the core of it, not formulas. Variability of qualities such as the sourness of a particular lemon or the vitality of vermouth (was it opened an hour ago? a month ago?) require a human touch. Taste the vermouth to see if it's wan, add more (or less) sweetness to adjust for the lemon — an actual bartender can make innumerable decisions for adjusting drinks to the ingredients, a customer's mood, or even the weather. An actual bartender can suggest things you might not ever consider and — good ones, anyway — spend hours upon hours developing recipes, perfecting techniques, building a knowledge bank of ingredients, and learning the craft.
Frankly, if you don't know how a drink is supposed to taste, you need a good bartender. Walk into a bar during a slow time and try something like this:
"Say, Lloyd, I'd like to try a Manhattan. The thing is, I've never made one I thought was any good. Maybe it's just me. Mind if I watch how you do it?" If Lloyd himself is any good, he may ask whether you prefer rye or bourbon and, if the latter, whether you're in the mood for something soft or with a little more peppery bite to it. Bulleit, maybe. Ask questions as long as he's not crushed by a crowd. Take the opportunity to learn something. Come back and visit Lloyd and the rest of the staff. Meet your neighbors and colleagues. Learn something, then go practice it. Get out and experience life. Heads up, though: sometimes, it gets messy.
Or just just chuck it the towel, give up, and get a robot. If you can't be bothered to learn something as simple as a gimlet or a mule, Bartendro may be for you. The Bartendro Kickstarter is here. Almost 300 backers have already pledged over $100,000.
I wish the boys nothing but happiness, but don't look for my name among those kicking in for this particular project.