It was only a matter of time until augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) found their way into the mixology world. Savvy consumers, for whom hidden speakeasies and themed bars are passé, are now looking for more interactivity, theater and next-level technology alongside their cocktail pours.
For many customers, AR/VR remains a new experience, giving bars experimenting with the technology the option to introduce it through relatively simple setups. Last year, Michelin-starred City Social in London added augmented visuals to their cocktails, entertaining patrons with scenes like a mini virtual Marilyn Monroe sipping on a smaller replica of the guest’s drink while blowing kisses. This type of “marker-based AR” is essentially the new-age version of a QR code, using a design “target”—drink coasters, in this case—to activate the visuals via a mobile app. However, as “markerless AR”—AR that detects real-time environments and activates in proper spatial context without targets—gains momentum, multi-layered scenes or even mini-games that extend beyond the immediate vicinity of the drink will become feasible.