A transcript of BarLifeUK’s first interview with a non-human subject.
Unless you have been living in an internet-free cave for years, you will have heard of OpenAIand its artificially intelligent chatbot, ChatGPT which, by way of sophisticated machine learning, can answer questions about anything from cookery, to computer code, to homework assignments. The informational quality and ‘humanness’ of ChatGPT’s response to questions is such that computer, social, and information scientists worry it will soon be impossible for us to discern whether content we read has been written by a human or a machine, and that bad actors will use AI to flood social media with ever more disinformation and propaganda created by utterly convincing bots.
Until today I have followed the coverage about ChatGPT with interest, but never used the chatbot as the website was always ‘at capacity’ when I tried to log in. However this morning I tried again and, to use a Gen X telephone term, was able to get through. Having done quite a few bartender interviews recently, I thought bartending would make an interesting subject for an AI experiment as the job requires both technical skills and a variety of human attributes. I started off by asking the bot to describe what an average bartender’s day would be like. I made sure to specify the question was about a cocktail bartender, and included Manchester as a location in the hope it would lead to some specificity in the answer. Here’s what I got:
BLUK: Can you describe a typical day for a bartender who works in a cocktail bar in Manchester?
ChatGPT: Sure! Here’s an example of what a typical day might look like for a bartender working in a cocktail bar in Manchester:
Pre-Opening: The bartender arrives at the bar an hour or so before opening time to do some preparation work. This might include stocking the bar with fresh ingredients and ice, cleaning equipment, and setting up the bar for service.
Opening: The bar opens and customers start arriving. The bartender greets them, takes orders, and starts making drinks. They might also offer recommendations or suggest custom cocktails based on the customer’s preferences.
Service: As the night goes on, the bartender continues to make drinks, engage with customers, and keep the bar running smoothly. They might also need to handle cash and credit card transactions, as well as clean glasses and restock supplies as needed.
Breaks: Depending on the bar’s policies, the bartender may take short breaks during their shift to rest and recharge. They might also use this time to prepare ingredients or restock supplies.
Closing: At the end of the night, the bartender helps clean up the bar and prepares it for the next day. This might include washing glasses and other equipment, restocking ingredients, and closing out the register.
Overall, a typical day for a bartender in a cocktail bar in Manchester is likely to be fast-paced and demanding, with lots of customer interaction and a focus on creating high-quality drinks. However, it can also be rewarding and enjoyable for those who are passionate about mixology and enjoy working in a social environment.
This answer was generated in about two seconds, which is impressive. It reads like a human response and is fairly accurate but in a non-specific sort of way. I asked some follow-up questions to see if the bot could identify some of the feelings or emotions that a bartender might feel during a shift.
BLUK: What is the hardest thing about being a cocktail bartender?
ChatGPT: Being a cocktail bartender can be a challenging and rewarding job, but there are several things that can make it difficult:
Pressure and Fast-Paced Environment: Bartenders in cocktail bars often have to work quickly and efficiently to keep up with customer demands during busy times, which can be stressful and challenging. The pressure to create high-quality drinks while maintaining a positive attitude can be challenging, especially for newer bartenders.
Knowledge and Skill: To be a great cocktail bartender, you need to have a deep understanding of various spirits, ingredients, and flavor profiles. It takes time and practice to master mixology, and there’s always something new to learn. This can be intimidating for those starting out, but it is essential to be able to offer a wide range of drinks to customers.
Customer Service: Bartenders need to be great at customer service to be successful. They need to be able to read customers and make recommendations, engage in conversation and entertain, and handle complaints and difficult situations. This can be challenging, especially during busy times when there are many customers to attend to.
Physical Demands: Bartending can be physically demanding, especially during long shifts where bartenders are on their feet for extended periods. Additionally, handling heavy bottles and equipment, dealing with spills, and working in a noisy environment can also take a toll.
Overall, being a cocktail bartender requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and personality traits. While it can be challenging, the rewards are great, including the ability to create memorable experiences for customers and the opportunity to be creative and showcase your skills.
BLUK: What is the most rewarding thing about being a cocktail bartender?
There are several rewarding aspects of being a cocktail bartender:
Creativity: Being a bartender is an excellent opportunity to be creative and showcase your skills in mixology. Bartenders have the freedom to experiment with different flavors and ingredients to create unique and delicious cocktails, which can be incredibly rewarding.
Social Interaction: Bartenders get to interact with people from all walks of life, and the social aspect of the job can be rewarding. Many bartenders form lasting relationships with regular customers and enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.
Sense of Accomplishment: Making a great cocktail and seeing the satisfaction on a customer’s face can be incredibly rewarding. Bartenders take pride in their craft and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with creating a perfect drink.
Financial Rewards: Bartending can be a financially rewarding career, with the potential to earn a good income through tips. This can be a significant motivator for those in the profession.
Overall, the most rewarding thing about being a cocktail bartender is the ability to provide a memorable experience for customers while using your creativity and skills in mixology. The social interaction, sense of accomplishment, and financial rewards can also make the job satisfying and fulfilling.
Again, it’s difficult to ague that these responses are wrong, but they do feel like the have been compiled by scouring corporate hospitality job ads. Time to see if the AI can be a little more expressive about drinks.
BLUK: What constitutes a good cocktail?
There are several factors that contribute to a good cocktail:
Balance: A good cocktail should have a balanced flavor, with no one ingredient overpowering the others. A well-balanced cocktail should be smooth, flavorful, and easy to drink.
Quality Ingredients: The quality of the ingredients used in a cocktail can make a significant difference in the final product. Fresh-squeezed juices, high-quality spirits, and fresh herbs or fruits can elevate a cocktail and make it more enjoyable.
Proper Technique: The way a cocktail is made can also impact its quality. Bartenders should use proper technique when shaking or stirring a cocktail to ensure that the ingredients are mixed evenly and the drink is properly chilled.
Presentation: A good cocktail should look as good as it tastes. The presentation of a cocktail can make a significant impact on the overall experience. Garnishes, glassware, and creative presentation can all contribute to a great cocktail.
Innovation: While classic cocktails are always popular, a good cocktail should also be innovative and unique. Bartenders who can put their own twist on a classic or create something entirely new can set themselves apart and create a memorable experience for their customers.
In summary, a good cocktail should be well-balanced, made with high-quality ingredients and proper technique, look great, and offer an innovative twist on the classic or something entirely new.
Textbook, this description could have been lifted straight out of an online raining course bashed out by a lazy brand. But I think most bartenders asked this question would also speak about feeling or mood, and the way a cocktail can fit an occasion, time of day, or even music that’s playing in the bar. Accurate but lifeless, would be my verdict. Let’s try a specifically ‘human’ question.
BLUK: What are the ideal personality traits for a cocktail bartender?
Bartending requires a combination of skills and personality traits. Here are some of the ideal personality traits for a cocktail bartender:
Great Communication Skills: Bartenders need to be great communicators to succeed in their job. They should be able to engage in conversation, listen actively to customers, and offer recommendations or suggestions when needed.
Positive Attitude: Bartenders should have a positive attitude, even during busy or challenging times. A friendly demeanor and a smile can go a long way in creating a great customer experience.
Attention to Detail: A great bartender pays attention to the little things, such as ensuring that the drinks are perfectly mixed, the glassware is clean and polished, and the garnishes are fresh and well-placed.
Multitasking Abilities: Bartenders need to be able to juggle multiple tasks at once, such as taking orders, mixing drinks, and handling cash or credit cards. They should be able to work efficiently and effectively in a fast-paced environment.
Adaptability: Bartenders should be adaptable and able to handle unexpected situations, such as a customer who is unhappy with their drink or a sudden rush of customers.
Creativity: Creativity is an essential trait for a cocktail bartender. Bartenders who can create innovative and delicious cocktails using unique ingredients can set themselves apart and create a memorable experience for their customers.
Passionate: A great bartender should be passionate about their job and enjoy creating great drinks and providing excellent customer service.
Overall, a great cocktail bartender should be an excellent communicator, have a positive attitude, pay attention to detail, be able to multitask, be adaptable, creative, and passionate about their job.
More generic job ad stuff. It’s not wrong, but to me, these aren’t really personality traits. They are work-specific behaviours. A person could be or have all of the things listed in this answer, and I wouldn’t know whether I would like to sit at the bar with them or not. A robot describing another robot, in other words. Speaking of robot bartenders…
BLUK: Do you think machines or robots will replace cocktail bartenders in the future?
ChatGPT: While there have been advancements in technology and automation in the food and beverage industry, it is unlikely that machines or robots will completely replace cocktail bartenders in the future. This is because bartending is not just about making drinks, but also about providing an enjoyable and memorable experience for customers.
Bartenders play an essential role in creating a welcoming and social atmosphere for customers, engaging with them, and offering recommendations and suggestions based on their preferences. Machines and robots may be able to make a drink, but they cannot replicate the human connection and personal touch that bartenders bring to the job.
Moreover, bartending involves a level of creativity and adaptability that is challenging to replicate in machines or robots. Bartenders are often asked to create custom drinks or modify recipes based on a customer’s preferences, and this requires a level of intuition and creativity that machines may not be able to replicate.
Finally, the art of mixology is constantly evolving and changing, with bartenders continually innovating and experimenting with new ingredients and techniques. Machines and robots may not be able to keep up with these changes and may not have the flexibility to adapt to new trends or customer preferences.
In summary, while machines and robots may assist bartenders in some aspects of their job, it is unlikely that they will fully replace cocktail bartenders in the future due to the essential human elements that bartenders bring to the job.
I found it interesting that the bot didn’t put this answer in bullet points. If anything, this is a better answer to the ‘personality traits’ question, and I wonder if the AI refers to different data sets (if that’s even a thing) when not asked about specific jobs or professions. This is less of a job ad and more like a human response to a question, so let’s see how it handles the most human characteristic of all – humour.
BLUK: Tell me a joke about cocktails.
ChatGPT: Why did the tomato turn red? Because it saw the bartender pour a bloody mary!
As a first time ChatGPT user, I was incredibly impressed by the speed and fluidity of the conversation – each response took about 2 seconds to appear. If someone had shown me this transcript and asked who I thought had written the answers, I would have guessed it was a recruitment consultant who had never worked in a bar, rather than a robot.
I would classify all of ChatGPT’s answers as accurate but lifeless and dull, but I wonder if that’s partly my fault. Did I ask the wrong questions? I expected a narrative answer to the ‘describe a day in the life question’, not a bulleted list of tasks. Maybe I should have asked the bot to tell me a story about a bartender, to see if it could compile its response from a source other than job ads. I’ll try that next time, assuming Judgement Day doesn’t arrive first.