I was very skeptical of the Somabar, a Kickstarter-funded cocktail-mixing appliance that's sort of like a Keurig machine, except with booze. But I'm not one to turn down a free cocktail, so I decided to give their working prototype a spin.
The Somabar can be filled with up to six different ingredients: anything from vodka to cola to homemade moonshine. Those are poured into cartridges, which are equipped with an RFID chip and loaded into the machine. Using wifi, the machine connects to the Somabar app where you can let it know what's in each cartridge. From there, it will present you with a menu of cocktails to choose from based on your ingredients.
The ingredients are forced through the internal tubes, measured, mixed, and dispensed in a matter of seconds. All you need to add is ice. It rinses the system between each drink, so you don't have any cross contamination (nobody wants a gimlet that tastes a little bit like a Manhattan).
I wasn't quite sure why someone would want this. My boyfriend and I keep our bar as stocked as possible, budget permitting, and it's always fun to mix up new recipes for our friends by hand. But there seems to be a market: Somabar raised more than $300,000 through their Kickstarter. They were only asking for $50,000.
"We're not trying to replace the bartender. It's like having an espresso machine at home. That won't replace Starbucks," Dylan Purcell-Lowe, Somabar's CEO, told me as his prototype whipped me up a Moscow mule. "You put this in your home and it makes you the mixologist. You get to try out all of these recipes that you might not have known how to make before."
The Kickstarter-backed units will start shipping out in July and pre-orders are available online. By the end of the year, the Somabar will be available in retail stores around the US for about $450, the founders told me.
Once the machines start shipping, the founders said they're particularly excited about connecting Somabar users. The app will allow people to share recipes and try out new concoctions from around the world.
It's pretty pricey for what's essentially a novelty appliance, but it's also kind of cool. The Somabar reminded me of a cross between a Star Trek replicator and a James Bond bachelor-pad gadget. And to be honest, that Moscow mule got me a little buzzed (the founders said it had about 1.2 ounces of hooch). Please excuse the typos.