Here comes Robomoji – praise the Lord and pass the peanuts
Robomoji looms over the competition, a robotic machine sporting chain belts, wicked saw-tooth gears and a vice-like appendage that looks ready to break a few bones. Is this an iron maiden for the 21st Century, or like the nearby Cockbot, the Torture Garden's latest attraction?
Robomoji is an unlikely mash-up of the nocturnal world of bartending and planet geek. It's the star attraction at Vienna's Roboexotica festival: "the first and, inevitably, the leading festival concerned with cocktail robotics worldwide. A micromechanical change of paradigm in the age of borderless capital." Riiight.
Basically, it's a machine to get you sloshed, then.
Mixologists won't be quaking in their boots as Robomoji takes four long, painful minutes to mix a mojito. And there's not a daring flip, blind-catch or cheesy grin to be seen. Mind you, not even Hemingway's going to complain about slow service to a hulking machine bristling with sharp edges.
Austria may have cornered the market in bartenders almost as frightening as Tom Cruise in Cocktail, but you have to go further east for really neat machines. So say Hai to Asahi's "Robot Bartender for the Home", a slick little robot that bears an uncanny resemblance to R2D2. The mighty midget may not be able to navigate X-wing fighters any more, but it can pour a damn fine beer. It carries a six-pack and two beer glasses in its refrigerated belly. Forget the dog, this is clearly man's best friend.
But as with so much else, the Brits got there first. In the new millennium, Cynthia's in London was the "world's first robotic bar and restaurant". Now, like so much else, it has closed down. The robotic waiters mixing the Martinis looked like they came from Dr Who circa 1972, which may have had something to do with it.
Frighteningly, the world of service bots doesn't stop with mixing drinks. The WERP-Bot uses facial-recognition technology to identify approximately where a person's mouth is and then lobs a cigarette at it.
El Espanol Borracho uses a flamethrower to create redhot cocktails, occasionally setting people on fire ‘by accident'. Maybe they should get together and launch flaming ciggies at people. Could be a great way of enforcing the upcoming smoking ban: "You wanna smoke, chomp on this." And it'd have the added benefit of providing free entertainment for everyone else.
Is this the answer to the new 24-hour licences? Finally a bar worker who can work 24 hours without rest, and it has one big advantage over those pesky minimum-wage waiters and Antipodean pint-pourers – you don't have to pay it. Where will it end? "With this new model robo-army we can finally conquer unnecessary overheads.
Exterminate. Exterminate! Ice and a slice?"