Do Virtual Bartenders Dream?

Feb 2, 2013

Virtual Bartender

What is this new, fancy Sunset and Vine Walgreens trying to do with a virtual bartender?

Manhattan cocktail search results

The kiosk is a mix of video clips (the bartender speaks to you!) and touchscreen browsing through drink descriptions and recipes.  I believe the interface had TOO MANY CHOICES, some that felt like forced advertising (About Our Brand!).  As consumers, we want simple, tactile, and satisfying.

Scotch Selector

The content is helpful.  Who doesn’t need a guide through the nuances of a particular scotch while picking out a dinner party present?

But the OPTIONS!  Wine Cellar, Scotch Center, Brand Information, each with a little description and photograph.  Don’t do this.  Offer back screens and lists of information, rather than many multiple buttons.

Manhattan recipe

Overall, a nice installation needing some navigational tweaks.

But horror of horrors, Walgreens boldly offered a classically abominable digital/ physical disruption.

Walgreens does not stock the ingredients that are included in their recipes and recommendations.  This is the opposite of seamless, my friends.

I even sent the register boy and his superior (excuse me, associates) scrambling through the aisles in search of bitters.

“What was it?” they kept asking.  “Biggers?  Is it a vodka?”  No, fancy digital virtual bartender, your recipe would have gone unfulfilled…

…if I weren’t the professional/amateur barkeeper of ©BarMae, fully stocked at home.



2 comments on “Do Virtual Bartenders Dream?

  1. Jamie

    Interesting post! Very cool instillation, but completely agree it’d be crazy frustrating having everything but the bitters to hand in the store.
    Envy the fact that you guys are able to get liquor in Drugstores. We’re super limited in Canada to tightly controlled government shops – LCBO (the sexily named Liquor Control Board of Ontario) to get our booze. Pretty sad for our once great nation given our history of Whisky and Rum running in the 20’s.

  2. SuzyMae

    Jamie, yes! Liquor rules vary widely from state to state in the US. I grew up in Las Vegas, where you can buy booze wherever, whenever, 24/7. There were liquor stores with drive-throughs.
    But when I lived in Oregon, liquor sales were restricted, similar to the situation you describe in Canada.
    I agree, you Canadians need to get more respect for your Whisky & Rum running! Thanks for the note.


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