Author’s Blurb: Going to the bar for me usually involves getting at least one cocktail to sip on while chatting with whoever I’m accompanying that night. Although I always intend to try something new, I’d usually be hit with choice paralysis and end up settling for something familiar, like a Long Island or Piña Colada.
LAVO, a resto-lounge in Persiaran Tropicana, has installed an automated bartender to make cocktails according to the bar’s drinks menu accurately every time.
Named MixoBot, it’s able to make drinks within 3 minutes with the precise measurements of liquor for each drink. This means that every beverage coming out of the bar is consistent in taste, which lowers the chances of a customer returning a drink as that tends to be an extra cost that businesses have to bear.
Mimicking human mixologists
MixoBot essentially works by having customers order their cocktails from the bar’s menu on an iPad. Bartenders then press a single button that instructs the MixoBot on which drink to make.
Bottles of liquor like vodka, gin, whiskey, etc. are hung upside down and mounted onto the bar’s shelf. Through an optic spirit measure dispenser, the robot can pour an accurate quantity of liquor to make cocktails with the right amount of ingredients every time.
At the same time, it puts on a show with flair much like how a bartender would since it’s been programmed to mimic human-like movements while shaking and mixing drinks. Once the drink is mixed, bartenders add the final touch with garnishes before it’s served to customers.
Spilling drinks were part of the process
MixoBot was developed by the F&B and entertainment group, Focus Dynamics, which owns the LAVO brand alongside other ones. Executive Director Benson Tay told Vulcan Post that it took the team 9 months and at least RM500K to develop the robo-bartender.
In the development stage, Benson explained that the biggest challenge faced was in tuning MixoBot’s accuracy when pouring drinks into a glass. This was where spillage and broken glasses became part of the team’s day-to-day.
Once it was ready for installation at LAVO, teams would clock in after-hours between 12AM to 4AM to set up MixoBot in the restaurant’s bar.
During the daytime when customers would visit and dine in, the machine had to be covered with a large cloth before it was ready for its reveal in April 2021. Unfortunately, MCO was reimposed shortly after, leaving MixoBot dormant for the time being.
However, the restaurant’s food and bottled drinks are still being sold via takeaways and deliveries while dine-ins are halted.
The robots aren’t taking over… completely
While MixoBot will likely attract customers as it makes for an intriguing experience to watch your drinks be made autonomously, it’s also meant to be a cost-saving asset to the bar.
This was because human bartenders can sometimes make mistakes while mixing a drink, causing customers to return them to the bar as the cocktails might not suit their taste.
“The returned drinks cost the bar money and we hope MixoBot is able to help eliminate this problem; not only for us, but for the restaurants MixoBot serves,” Benson said.
Part of the experience of going to bars also involves sitting by the counter to chat with your mixologists who can curate a bespoke drink for you. Benson shared that MixoBot can be programmed by professional mixologists to deliver new cocktails every so often on top of their usual offerings.
So it seems that the robot can do everything a human mixologist can, with even more efficiency and accuracy. But the one thing it lacks is the human touch, which contributes to the bar experience too. Hence, some bars may still opt to hire human bartenders for that reason.
Focus Dynamics has also expressed that MixoBot’s tech will function as an additional revenue stream for the group. They will be leasing their robot bartender to interested venues that might want to provide such services too.
Benson declined to share the cost of a MixoBot’s installation and maintenance, but stated, “[The] adoption of MixoBot could greatly increase beverage revenue of a place by 50%.” This was in reference to the decrease in returned drinks from customers when using MixoBot.
In the near future, Benson aims to have MixoBot as an attraction in hotels, bars, events, and cruises. The executive director is also confident that venues using a centrepiece like MixoBot will be able to yield returns within 12 months from installation.
Bottom Line: It may take a while before MixoBot’s adoption rates are of any significance, especially when the country’s recovery from the pandemic seems to have no end in sight. Nonetheless, it would make for a pretty cool night out to watch a robot mix my cocktails right before my eyes at the bar.
- You can learn more about LAVO here, and Focus Dynamics here.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: Benson Tay, Executive Director of Focus Dynamics
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