I Think I'll Pass on the "Keurig for Cocktails"

Somabar isn't the intelligent bartender it purports to be.
Publish date:
July 18, 2016
cocktails, booze, the future, technology, Keurigs

We, as a society, seem pretty obsessed with automating everything. Popping in a pod or cartridge, pressing a button, and having a machine spit out your coffee, soup, beer, or whatever is apparently "the future" of food and beverage, and this "Keurig for mixed drinks" — the real name of which is the Somabar — has some people very excited.

I'm not so thrilled, for a few reasons.

First, making a cocktail is not, as the above video describes it, "a pain." Making a cocktail is a beautiful, soothing experience that I find somewhat meditative. I enjoy measuring, stirring, shaking, straining, garnishing, tasting, and tweaking my boozy creations.

More importantly, though, making cocktails gives you an appreciation for just how much ethanol is in there, and automating the whole thing makes it less apparent, which may cause problems with over-imbibing. (Not that knowledge will necessarily prevent you from over-imbibing, as evidenced by the way I live my life.) Plus, while it's impressive that the Somabar can "thoroughly mix" and spit out a cocktail in five seconds, I'm not sure that anyone needs a cocktail that fast. (Well, you may need the first cocktail that fast, but after that it's probably okay to slow your roll.)

I also have a few questions:

Who's chilling here? Though the Somabar is capable of mixing more than 300 different beverages, you can only equip it with six different ingredients at a time, so not every one of those 300-plus cocktails is available at all times. I'm also not sure if the Somabar chills the cocktail for you, or if you have to chill the ingredients beforehand. Also, "replacing liquor bottles" isn't that big of a draw for me, as a well-curated bar cart with a bunch of pretty bottles is one of the sexiest thing a human can have in her home.

What about water? When a cocktail is stirred or shaken with ice, the ice not only chills your beverage, but dilutes it ever so slightly, rounding out flavors and softening the edges. (This is also why people add small amount of water to whiskey; it helps open up the flavors and smooths everything out.) I'm not sure if Somabar adds a little water to each cocktail. I hope it does.

Can you add egg whites to those pods? I understand that egg white cocktails such as fizzes and sours are still a little off-putting for some people, but they're delicious, and I'm 99.9 percent sure they can't be made with this machine.

Garnishes? Does the Somabar tell you to express the oils from a strip of lemon zest and rub it around the edge or the glass? Does it plunk olives into your martini? Can it do stuff with fire? (If it can do stuff with fire, I redact everything else and suggest you purchase one as soon as they are available.)

But besides all that, this thing cannot replace the knowledge of a skilled bartender. You can't tell the Somabar, "Hey, I want something refreshing, kinda tropical, but not too sweet" and have it create something to fit your specific mood and needs. You can't say, "Hey, Somabar. I need something to take the edge off but not knock me out because I have a Tinder date in 20 minutes. Also please make it gin-based." This is what is at stake.

Also, since the Somabar is dependent on the ingredients you provide, it is unlikely that you will expand your cocktail knowledge that much and branch out. Without my bartenders, I would never have discovered a few of my new favorite things (such as Bigalett China China and a kalimtxo + fernet). Even if you don't have a regular bartender, I would argue that a good cocktail book (such as this one) is much more valuable than a machine that makes drinks for you. You know what they say: "Give a woman a martini and she is happy for 20 minutes; teach a woman how to make a martini and she is happy until the next morning."

I will also say this: I am much more impressed by someone who can make me an excellent martini than someone who spent over $400 on an automated cocktail mixing machine. I love drinking cocktails, but I also love making cocktails, talking about cocktails, and going out to get cocktails and talking about cocktails with other people, and the Somabar makes the cocktail experience as exciting as getting a soda from the vending machine. Instead of clinking ice into a heavy crystal mixing glass, measuring your spirits, and giving it a stir with a long, elegant bar spoon, you do it all from an app on your phone, which makes me very sad.

What do you all think of this cocktail Keurig? What do you think about any of these Keurig-type machines? Do you like mixing cocktails or is that just me? Are they actually "a pain"?