A New Bottle Topper Design October 20 2014, 0 Comments

The old design

On a recent camping trip, we took Bartendro out to make drinks for our friends in the fine outdoors. Each bottle had a single tube draped down into its liquid with no bottle topper to keep the bugs out. A small swarm of bees got wind of the sweet scent and in no time, regular sized bees were negotiating themselves down the crowded bottle neck. Unfortunately, the exit seemed to be much more elusive than the entrance, and they found themselves drinking and swimming in what must be the most decadent way for a bee to go. Unfortunately, the camp-goers weren't quite as happy as the bees. After a few hours the bees were bobbing in the sweet stuff. Off-putting, I know, but this was inspiration to refine a component of Bartendro that needed some attention.

Before Bartendro made its debut, the first comments that people made were about the exposure of booze to the open air. We understood the concern. Even with the tubing hanging down into the bottle, there was still plenty of space for fruit flies (even bees) to find their way to the delightful nectar. Commercial environments, especially bars and restaurants take this very seriously and every night the bottles are capped with plastic wrap or some other type of closure. It's a real sanitation concern and we made sure that we would address it before shipping any of our Kickstarter orders.

Our solution was these plastic bottle toppers that could allow the input tube and level sensor tube to pass through the bottle top and not allow any fruit flies in. 

While effective, there were a couple of problems with this design. Sometimes, when catering a small get-together or out of sheer laziness, using the liquid sensor tubing wouldn't be desirable. We often run the bot without the second tube because we're usually standing next to the bot and monitoring it anyway, and we don't want to clean a second tube for every bottle at the end of an event. If we were to use the bottle toppers, we would still be left with a gaping hole for pests to get into. The second problem was more of a logistical and manufacturing one. These parts were quite difficult to source, expensive, and slow to modify.

We needed a better way to close up the bottles whether using one or two tubes. After much experimentation, here's what we came up with:

We found that it was nearly impossible to make a one-size-fits-all type of solution. There was simply too large of a range to make an elegant solution. We created a large spreadsheet and measured as many bottle openings as we could get our hands on. The data showed us that there were four distinct groupings of opening sizes so we decided to design for those. This covered everything from a narrow dessert wine to a wide-mouth cranberry juice bottle. There was a limitation in that some bottles could not accept two tubes to begin with, so we did not design for bottles that were that narrow.

The plugs are slit in a similar way as fountain drink covers, but instead of poking a straw through, you poke your tubing through. We tried many variations of slit length, number of slits and distance between both slit patterns before we reached the optimal design. The hole in the center is the biggest opening at 0.010" and about 0.002" when a tube is inserted. The average fruit fly body is about 0.030". The part is made of food-grade silicone, it is soft and flexible, and will allow the passage of the tubes in either direction hundreds of times without tearing. 

We will now be including these new caps with all new bot purchases. In the near term we will likely make them available for purchase individually, and they should range from $3-$5 depending on size.


Price Drop: Bartendro Dispensers August 11 2014, 0 Comments

Hey everyone, I hope you've been enjoying your summer with some tasty beverages. Things have been ebbing and flowing in Party Robotics land over the last couple of months. We ran out of several things some weeks back, but now we're stocked up on everything again, and the best news is that Bartendro Dispensers are now 10 bucks less! Did we change anything about them? Nope! As we've been refining our process, and understanding our costs better, we've decided that we would pass the savings on to you. It might not seem like much, but every little bit helps when you're trying to build a big bot.

For those in the Bay Area, we've also officially signed up for the Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge, happening in about a month at the DNA Lounge in SF. Come root for your favorite robots. The event is on a Sunday from 5pm to Midnight and tickets cost $10 in advance.

Post Kickstarter Updates April 04 2013, 2 Comments

We did it! On March 31st we watched as the Kickstarter clock counted down to zero. At 8pm we pressed the pour button on ShotBot and took a celebratory swig of whiskey. With all of your support we were able to exceed our Kickstarter goal by over $60k. We’ve been furiously working on finalizing the latest revisions to the electronics and placing materials orders. If everything goes smoothly, we anticipate the Bartendro kits to begin shipping at the end of May and full bots shortly thereafter.

We’ve begun collaborating with several other engineers to help us refine some of our components, making them more production ready and durable for users. Out of this collaboration came the design for our bottle tops which I’m pleased to share with you here for the first time!

Bottle Cap

Bottle Cap

Bottle Cap

Bottle Cap

Some of you have noticed that we opened up the forums last week. We’ve created forums for discussion on software, hardware, firmware, drinks, and general topics. The drinks forum is the newest addition, just added today. This is the place to share recipes and talk about database enhancements. We’re trying to figure out the best method to rate and share drinks and how to handle drinks that have the same ingredients with different names. We’ve discussed the possibility of searching by region, voting on most widely accepted name, having an alternative name section, etc. There are a lot of possibilities and we would love to hear your ideas! Please note that if you share drink recipes it’s not guaranteed to be added to the database. However, if we see something intriguing we might try it out on one of the prototype bots and report back to you :)

We’ve had quite a few emails since the Kickstarter ended asking about how to purchase a Bartendro. Well, we’re not quite there yet. Delivering to existing backers is our first priority. If you’d like to be the first to get any updates about pre-orders then you should join our new mailing list.

Last, we’d like to invite you to come get an in-person Bartendro demo. Pierre and I will be at the Stanford Cool Products Expo on April 10th, if you’d like to come check out the bots and say hi.


Bartendro 3 Drink Ideas March 15 2013, 0 Comments

You just got your Bartendro 3 and turned it on, now what? What should you load it up with to get the best possible combinations of drinks? I spent some quality time with a cocktail recipe book writing down all the drinks which had three ingredients or less. I combined this new set of data with the drinks already available in our database and have come up with 12 different combinations for your Bartendro 3. We haven’t added all of these drinks to the database yet, but plan on debugging and testing soon. I’ve also included a bunch of cocktail recipes at the end of the post. Know there are a lot more options out there! What other possible Bartendro 3 combinations can you come up with? Possible Bartendro 3 Combinations Vodka, Kahlua, Baileys - Mudslide (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua, 1 Baileys) - Baby Guinness (1 Kahlua, 2 Baileys) - Black Russian (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua) - Girl Scout Cookie (1 Kahlua, 1 Baileys) - Pure Ecstasy (1 Vodka, 4 Kahlua, 2 Baileys) - Screaming Orgasm (2 Vodka, 1 Kahlua, 3 Baileys) Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Grapefruit Juice - Greyhound (2 Vodka, 5 Grapefruit Juice) - Sea Breeze (2 Vodka, 2 Grapefruit Juice, 3 Cranberry Juice) - Cape Cod (2 Vodka, 4 Cranberry Juice) Vodka, Kahlua, Orange Juice - Black Russian (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua) - Screwdriver (2 Vodka, 4 Orange Juice) - Blenheim (6 Vodka, 3 Kahlua, 3 Orange Juice) Red Wine, Red Port, Cognac - Glass of red wine - Glass of red Port - Port in a Storm (20 Red Wine, 15 Red Port, 5 Cognac) - Port Cocktail (32 Red Port, 1 Cognac) Dry Vermouth, Gin, Vodka - Gibson (20 Dry Vermouth, 35 Gin) - Vodkatini (20 Dry Vermouth, 35 Vodka) Dry White Wine, Apricot Brandy, Lemon Juice - Fantaisie (16 Dry White Wine, 3 Apricot Brandy) - Bullfrog (1 Apricot Brandy, 1 Lemon Juice) - Glass of White wine Gold Tequila, Orange Juice, Grenadine -Tequila Sunrise (4 Gold Tequila, 8 Orange Juice, 1 Grenadine) - Tequila Screwdriver (2 Gold Tequila, 4 Orange Juice) Peach Schnapps, Orange Juice, Vodka - Fuzzy Navel (2 Peach Schnapps, 4 Orange Juice) - Screwdriver (2 Vodka, 4 Orange Juice) - Hairy Navel (3 Vodka, 3 Peach Schnapps, 20 Orange Juice) Sour Mix, Amaretto, Midori - Amaretto Sour (8 Amaretto, 1 Sour Mix) - Midori Sour (8 Midori, 1 Sour Mix) Dry Sherry, Gin, Tequila - Straight Law (2 Dry Sherry, 1 Gin) - Parkeroo (2 Dry Sherry, 1 Tequila) - Glass of Sherry Milk, Butterscotch Schnapps, Baileys - Buttermilk (1 Butterscotch, 1 Milk) - Buttery Nipple (1 Butterscotch, 1 Baileys) White Rum, Orange Juice, Sweet Vermouth - Poker (24 White Rum, 12 Sweet Vermouth, 1 Orange Juice) - Rum Screwdriver (2 White Rum, 4 Orange Juice) Drink Recipes  Beach Bum (1 Dark Rum, 2 Pineapple Juice) Big Red (1 Cinnamon Schnapps, 1 Baileys) Black Unicorn (1 Kahlua, 1 Butterscotch Schnapps, 1 Baileys) Brown Cow (1 Milk, 1 Kahlua) Butter Kahlua Bliss (1 Butterscotch Schnapps, 2 Milk, 1 Kahlua) Calypso Baby (8 Pineapple Juice, 4 White Rum, 1 Grenadine) Caramel Apple (4 Sour Apple Pucker, 3 Butterscotch Schnapps) Carrot Cake (1 Cinnamon Schnapps, 4 Kahlua, 4 Baileys) Dirty Martini (20 Vodka, 2 Dry Vermouth, 2 Olive Juice) Emerald Martini (8 Midori, 4 Vodka, 1 Triple Sec) Firecracker (1 Tequila, 1 Cinnamon Schnapps) Gin Gimlet (8 Gin, 2 Lime Juice, 2 Simple Syrup) Hot Scott (1 Cinnamon Schnapps, 1 Kahlua) Iguana (1 Vodka, 1 Tequila, 1 Kahlua) Golden Apple (8 Sour Apple Pucker, 1 Cinnamon Schnapps) Kamikaze (7 Triple Sec, 8 Vodka, 5 Lime Juice) Lemon Drop (3 Lemon Juice, 7 Simple Syrup, 6 Vodka) Low Carb Vodka Lemon (2 Vodka, 1 Lemon Juice) Piña Colada (2 Coconut Milk, 3 Pineapple Juice, 1 White Rum) Pure Ecstasy (1 Vodka, 1 Baileys, 1 Kahlua) Adam & Eve (1 Vodka, 1 Sour Apple Pucker, 1 Cranberry Juice) Amaretto Sour (15 Amaretto, 4 Lemon, 2 Simple Syrup) Baileys & Amaretto (1 Baileys, 1 Amaretto) 2nd Period (1 Kahlua, 1 Baileys, 1 Milk) Saoco (3 White Rum, 7 Coconut Milk) Snakebite (3 Whiskey, 1 Lemon Juice) Whiskey Lemonade (6 Whiskey, 4 Simple Syrup, 6 Lemon Juice) Whiskey Sour (3 Whiskey, 2 Sour Mix) Werther’s Original (3 Butterscotch Schnapps, 1 Baileys) Washington Apple (5 Sour Apple Pucker, 4 Whiskey, 4 Cranberry Juice) Vodka Lemon (4 Vodka, 2 Lemon Juice, 1 Triple Sec) Vodka Gimlet (8 Vodka, 2 Lime Juice, 2 Simple Syrup) Toasted Almond (1 Amaretto, 1 Kahlua, 1 Milk) Sour Apple Martini (1 Vodka, 1 Sour Apple Pucker) Sour Apple Jolly Rancher (3 Sour Apple Pucker, 1 Vodka, 1 Margarita Mix) Screaming Orgasm (2 Vodka, 3 Baileys, 1 Kahlua) Gipsy (64 Vodka, 32 Benedictine, 1 Angostura Bitters) Harvey Wallbanger (8 Vodka, 3 Galliano, 20 Orange Juice) Barbara (2 Vodka, 2 Creme de Cacao, 1 Cream) Katinka (3 Vodka, 2 Apricot Brandy, 2 Lime Juice) Cooch Behar (2 Pepper Vodka, 4 Tomato Juice) Balalaika (6 Vodka, 3 Cointreau, 3 Lemon Juice) French Horn (4 Vodka, 3 Chambord, 2 Lemon Juice) Woo Woo (2 Vodka, 3 Peach Schnapps, 8 Cranberry Juice) Blackhawk (3 Vodka, 1 Creme de Mure, 1 Lime Juice) Green Dragon (2 Vodka, 1 Green Chartreuse) Blue Shark (2 Vodka, 2 Tequila, 1 Blue Curacao) Genoa (6 Vodka, 8 Orange Juice, 3 Campari) Borodino (1 Vodka, 1 Gin, 1 Cointreau) Boyar (8 Vodka, 2 Dry Vermouth, 1 Kümmel) Soviet Cocktail (3 Vodka, .1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Medium-Dry Sherry) Golden Russian (6 Vodka, 4 Galliano, 1 Lime Juice) White Russian (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua, 1 Cream) Black Russian (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua) Screwdriver (2 Vodka, 4 Orange Juice) Blenheim (6 Vodka, 3 Kahlua, 3 Orange Juice) Baileys Comet (1 Vodka, 1 Baileys) Ti Punch (7 Lime Juice, 8 White Rum, 1 Simple Syrup) Saoco (2 White Rum, 4 coconut Milk) Columbus (6 White Rum, 3 Apricot Brandy, 4 Lime Juice) Mulata (7 White Rum, 1 Brown Creme de Cacao, 2 Lime Juice) Petite Fleur (1 White Rum, 1 Cointreau, 1 Grapefruit Juice) Poker (24 White Rum, 12 Sweet Vermouth, 1 Orange Juice) Continental (3 White Rum, 1 Green Creme de Menthe, 1 Lime Juice) Rob Roy (1 Scotch, 1 Sweet Red Vermouth) Manhattan (8 Rye Whiskey, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Sweet Vermouth) Bobby Burns (6 Scotch, 3 Sweet Vermouth, 1 Benedictine) Rusty Nail (1 Scotch, 1 Drambuie) Loch Lomond (6 Scotch, 1 Simple Syrup, 2 dashes Angostura bitters) Loch Ness (3 Scotch, 2 Pernod, 2 Sweet Vermouth) Tequila Sunrise (4 Gold Tequila, 8 Orange, 1 Grenadine) Pinata ( 3 Gold Tequila, 2 Creme de Banane, 2 Lime) Mockingbird (6 silver Tequila, 3 White Creme de menthe, 2 Lime) Bonnie Prince Charlie (2 Cognac, 1 Drambuie, 2 Lemon Juice) Brandy Alexander (1 Cognac, 1 Brown Creme de Cacao, 1 Cream) Corpse Reviver (1 Cognac, 1 Fernet Branca, 1 White Creme de Menthe) Corpse Reviver 2 (6 Cognac, 3 Calvados, 3 Sweet Vermouth) Connoisseur’s Treat (3 Cognac, 1 Grand Marnier, 1 Galliano) Hard Case (6 Cognac, 2 Creme de Cassis, 1 Lemon Juice) Brandy Fino (6 Cognac, 2 Pale Dry Sherry, 1Glayva) Arago (3 Cognac, 2 Creme de Banane, 2 Cream) Incredible (2 Cognac, 1 Green Chartreuse, 1 Cherry Brandy) Port Side (3 Cognac, 1 Ruby Port, 1 Creme de Mure) Captain Kidd (3 Cognac, 2 Dark Rum, 2 Brown Creme de Cacao) Sidecar (6 Cognac, 3 Cointreau, 3 Lemon Juice) Rum Sidecar (6 Light Rum, 3 Cointreau, 3 Lemon Juice) Stinger (2 Cognac, 1 White Creme de Menthe) Grasshopper (1 Green Creme de Menthe, 1 White Creme de Menthe, 1 Cream) Hooded Claw (5 Prune Juice, 2 Amaretto, 1 Cointreau) Las Hadas (1 Sambuca, 1 Kahlua) Alaska (3 Gin, 1 Yellow Chartreuse) Fuzzy Navel (2 Peach Schnapps, 4 Orange Juice) Godfather (1 Amaretto, 1 Scotch) Godmother (1 Amaretto, 1 Vodka) Bunny Hug (1 Gin, 1 scotch, 1 Pernod) Silver Jubilee (1 Gin, 1 Creme de Banane, 1 Cream) Olympic (1 Cognac, 1 Orange Curacao, 1 Orange Juice) Wally (1 Calvados, 1 Peach Brandy, 1 Lime Juice) Angel face (1 Gin, 1 Apricot Brandy, 1 Calvados) Yellow Parrot (1 Absinthe, 1 Yellow Chartreuse, 1 Apricot Brandy) Duchess (1 Absinthe, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Sweet Vermouth) Amsterdammer (1 Advocaat, 1 Cherry Brandy) Cafe Kahlua (6 Kahlua, 3 light Rum, 4 Cream) Tuaca Cocktail (2 Vodka, 2 Tuaca, 1 Lime) Chrysanthemum (4 Benedictine, 8 Dry Vermouth, 1 Absinthe) Cara Sposa (2 Kahlua, 2 Cointreau, 1 Cream) Peugeot (6 Cointreau, 3 Calvados, 8 Orange Juice) Kowloon (1 Grand Marnier, 1 Kahlua, 3 Orange Juice) Blue Lady (3 curacao, 1 White Creme de Cacao, 1 Cream) Il Paradiso (1 Tuaca, 1 Orange Curacao, 1 Cream) Bordeaux Cocktail (8 Red Bordeaux, 4 Cognac, 3 Creme de  cassis) Gin and It (2 Gin, 1 Sweet Vermouth) Midsummer Night (2 Gin, 2 Punt e Mes, 1 Creme de cassis) Perfect Cocktail (1 Gin, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Sweet Vermouth) Sherry Cocktail (8 Pale Dry Sherry, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Orange Bitters or Curacao) Dubonnet Cocktail (1 Gin, 1 Dubonnet) Adonis (2 Pale Dry Sherry, 1 Sweet Vermouth, 1 Orange Bitters or curacao) Straight Law (2 Pale Dry Sherry, 1 Gin) Parkeroo (2 Pale Dry Sherry, 1 Tequila) Port  in a storm (4 red wine, 3 red Port, 1 Cognac) Tinton (2 Calvados, 1 Red Port) Devon Gin (12 cider, 3 Gin, 1 Cointreau) Highland Morning (4 Scotch, 3 Cointreau, 12 Grapefruit Juice) Orange Blossom (1 Gin, 1 Orange Juice) White Lady (1 Gin, 1 Cointreau, 1 Lemon Juice) Space (3 Gin, 2 Frangelico, 1 Lemon Juice) Caruso (1 Gin, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Green Creme de Menthe) Derby (8 Gin, 1 Peach Bitters) Maiden’s Blush (8 Gin, 4 Absinthe, 1 Grenadine) Princeton (6 Gin, 3 Ruby Port, 1 Orange Bitters) Whiteout (3 Gin, 2 White Creme de Cacao, 2 Cream)

A Couple of Great Events - Barbot and Drinco de Mayo May 13 2012, 0 Comments

It's amazing sometimes how much can happen in a couple months. In March, we went to Barbot 2012 in San Francisco to mingle with like minded cocktail making technologists. It was great to see familiar faces and meet new ones. Bartendro's aesthetic was spot on. It was a bold, shiny, well-lit piece of art. The bot performed admirably on Friday night dispensing 172 drinks, but we ran into some hardware/software issues that almost made the bot inoperable at the start of the Saturday run. We muscled through several issues and brought half of the pumps back to life for a usable 6 drinks. People were still impressed it could make that many, since most other bots were only doing 1 or 2 drinks. We were dismayed though because we had a selection of 30 drinks the night before. People were overall thrilled and welcoming of our robotic future, where drinks come with a button press. We got mentioned in a Make Blog about how we are "veering dangerously close to commercial viability."Flickr Set of Barbot 2012 At the end of the event we stayed up late into the night rehashing all the things that could have gone better; a post-mortem analysis if you will. We agreed that upside down bottles were not the way to go. The upside down bottle concept carried over from our original desires to have a gravity-fed machine. The aesthetic is really cool. It seems like it would be a simple, no-fuss no-brainer; you can see the bottles and just swap them out when they run out. The problem arises when catering to larger crowds, not being able to refill the bottles as people are using the machine can cause quite a bit of downtime and this is a pretty big issue if this machine is to live in a commercial application. Also, the vent holes on the bottle caps (needed to not cause a vacuum) were prone to being leaky and messy. From looking around at the other bots this year, it seemed apparent that the winning combo is upright bottles and peristaltic pumps. We made a long list of things to fundamentally change about our design. We would ditch the stainless steel skin and go with a simpler design. The pumps would also need a form of adjustability to reduce leakage and contamination of drinks. Over a couple of months I iterated over modification designs that would allow for adjustment with one knob. Finally, we had something worthwhile. I retrofitted the pump with new tubing to and re-routed it. Meanwhile, in software land, the UI received a face lift. Elements could now be added or removed at will depending on the type of party, things like drink size and taster buttons were made optional. Drinks could also be modified on the scales of alcohol strength and sweetness/tartness. We prepared and showed up at an event called Taco de Mayo, where our friend rents a taco truck that serves endless tacos. Naturally, our bot was transmorphed into a margarita bot. There was 6 different kinds of tequila that could be selected to go into your drink and even a game to check for sobriety if you selected the top-shelf stuff. Several other drinks could be made too including a Dirty Sanchez and White Oaxacan. 201 drink dispensed in all. Our best performance yet. We received great tips and ideas from our friends to pursue. We're going to take our technical hats off for a month and put our business ones on to try to go make this available at your favorite restaurants. Cheers!