Learning cocktail making, as with many hobbies, has an inherent barrier to novices guarded by vexing terminology. What does it mean to “muddle” something? Is a “dash” the same amount as a “splash?” How can a cocktail be “dry?” Combined with an array of intimidating contraptions and an overwhelming abundance of complex, multistep recipes, it may be tempting to head out to the bar and put home mixology on the rocks.
Somabar® and other companies are seeking to change that. In the age of instant and facile domestic comfort led by smart home technologies, one patentable space remains sparse – the automated home cocktail maker. As can be surmised by anyone who has been to a novelty robot bar, automated cocktail making is known. For example, Smart Bar USA claims to market “the world’s first patented touch-screen bar and automated cocktail dispenser” (see U.S. Patent No. 8,584,900, wherein the inventors recognize “a lack of the ability to provide mixed alcohol drinks” via the beverage dispensing systems in the prior art).
However, Somabar® seeks to push through U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2016/0039653 by linking the size of the invention to specific applications. The primary argument is based upon similar inventions in the prior art being six feet in height or taller, whereas a housing of the drink vending apparatus of the ‘653 application is “less than two feet in height.” The invention is therefore “small enough to fit on a standard kitchen counter and underneath standard kitchen cabinets,” as supported in the specification.
FIG. 1 below provides one embodiment of the drink vending apparatus of the ‘653 application. Liquor cartridges may be placed on the manifolds 128 to provide ingredients for a mixed drink. A glass may then be placed on dispensing tray 203 to receive the mixed drink as prepared by the apparatus. Tying the invention further to the smart home paradigm are its wireless capabilities; a mobile phone or tablet can operate the apparatus, from which a user can request specific drinks via an associated mobile phone application.
Bloomberg prices the Somabar® at $2000, which may be a little steep for the cocktail-curious. For now, at least, most amateur mixologists will have to suffice with their martinis shaken, not automatically dispensed.