The Monsieur intelligent bartender recently made a stop by the Tom's Hardware office for a demonstration. By all accounts, it looks like it could be life of a party. But can you afford it? Or maybe the better question is, do you want to afford it?
You're going to want this. I'm not sure your wallet or your liver will thank you, but if you're a frequent host, you're really going to want this.
Monsieur is a robotic bartender. It mixes drinks. It tracks when your bottles need replacing. It lets you order a drink from your smartphone (which also aids in tracking your alcohol consumption). It learns your imbibing patterns. It's social. It's available with cloud-based back-end software for commercial venues. And the home-based version of Monsieur is available on Kickstarter until November 15. There will also be a bigger, commercial version aimed at establishments that serve liquor. In fact, one of the company's biggest targets is sports arenas.
If you've wondered what to do with the space that your library of books occupied before Amazon's Kindle came along, Monsieur could be that unique showcase piece of furniture you've been wanting to fill the void. If you're the entertaining sort, throwing Duck Dynasty or Mad Men parties, or whatever else the cool kids are doing these days, then Monsieur is likely just the automated, showstopping gadget that will turn your ordinary den into a den of iniquity.
Now at $2700 for the eight-container model (that is, eight liquids in basically a two-foot square cube), want might not equal need. I can't tell you whether you'll be spending your money wisely. That depends on you, your drinking habits, your lifestyle, and whether you went to bar tending school.
I spent part of an afternoon with Monsieur and its warmer companions, CEO Barry Givens and chairman Paul Judge, and I can only tell you that the Monsieur worked well and is tremendous fun (for some reason that I can't explain, it's even more fun the more you use it). Without long-term use, we're able to convey how the project came to be and how it works (at least the parts that Givens and Judge would reveal). Even for those of you who abstain or object (and we commend both points of view), the geek in you should at least appreciate the journey.
And, if at times I slur my words, I hope you'll understand.
The History Of Monsieur
Monsieur was Givens' baby. A classic start-up idea, an Aha! moment, a viable product for a thirsty market. There are, after all, sensored-up beer taps and mini-wine refrigerators. Givens was working a day job as a design and manufacturing engineer with John Deere right out of Georgia Tech, where he majored in mechanical engineering. By night he worked on the Monsieur prototype.
Two years ago, Givens started to team up with Eric Williams, now CTO of Monsieur. Williams has a masters in computer engineering from Georgia Tech, with a specialty in developing and building embedded technology, which he did for Panasonic's Innovation Center, focusing on in-vehicle infotainment systems. Somewhere in there is a joke about being driven to drink...
Within four months, Givens and Williams had a working prototype and they've been refining it ever since.
Judge joined back in April of this year (pretty much after all of the hard work was done). Givens was at a tech start-up launch party, and his prototype was tending bar. Judge saw it and immediately wanted to buy one. Instead, Judge invested, and came on board as the company's chairman, helping the fledgling company craft a message and define a vision, namely to do for liquor what Kuerig has done for coffee. Judge also helped imagine all of the places Monsieur could be, and considered the emerging trends and possibilities: home automation, geolocation, social technology. Monsieur would aim to bring all of this to the cocktail industry.
For Judge, Monsieur combined the luxurious experience of a great drink with the opportunity to learn more about those drinks, and to discover new ones. Judge tells me that most restaurants see an increase in sales when they provide customers with a cocktail list, and Monsieur houses a seemingly infinite one.
Judge goes to great lengths to explain the origins of the Monsieur name, which signifies an honorific title, a sense of luxury, like calling for a waiter in a French restaurant. Or maybe it just sounds like something you'd say at a Gatsby party.
The company came out of stealth mode at TechCrunch Disrupt, about a month ago, and then its Kickstarter campaign began. The campaign is just for pre-ordering the home version, and Monsieur already surpassed its fundraising goal.