Looking back at the dark days of 2021, life seems comparably normal now and human nature being what it is, a bit of distance from the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic has made it easy to forget how traumatic that period was.
However it is, I believe, important to remember those long weeks of enforced isolation when assessing our lives now. Times are tough, the world is a mess, and we’ve barely found our footing after living through a plague that, at times, felt like it could cause the end of the world. So be kind to yourself, give yourself a break, and consider some of the good things that have come to be thanks to inquisitive people being cooped up in isolation with lots of time on their hands.
The first example of this ‘enforced creativity’ I offer has nothing to do with the bar industry, I just read about it recently and thought it was cool: Back in 1994, a scientist called Miguel Alcubierre devised a Star Trek-esque faster-than-light (FTL) drive that could propel spaceships to distant galaxies within human lifetimes. It was a purely theoretical design, the physics made sense, but the drive would require amounts of energy and exotic materials likely forever out of reach to humans, so the ‘Alcubierre Drive‘ remained the stuff of science fiction. However, in 2021, while alone and isolated in lockdown, another scientist called Erik Lentz was bored, and decided to revisit Alcubierre’s work. Lentz’s refinement of field equations led to a new design that while still out of reach now, could be practicable in the decades ahead, and real-word work has begun on developing an FTL drive that could take us to the stars. Like I said, pretty cool.
The second ‘enforced creativity’ example does concern the bar industry, specifically the story of Morten Kjærulff and how he came to create the Peche bartender training app.
Morten Kjærulff is a twelve year hospo veteran, with experience working as a bar back, bartender, bar manager, and GM, at venues such as Adventure Bar, London Cocktail Club, Fitz’s, and Swift. When lockdown struck in 2021, Morten moved back to his native Denmark (hence the utterly unpronounceable last name) to keep a socially-distanced eye on his Grandma. I’ve not been to Morten’s family home in Denmark, but my mind’s eye sees a log cabin tucked away in a snowy forest, where he spent six distraction-free months learning to code and build an AI-powered training app, now called Peche.
I spoke to Morten earlier this week, and while he did fill me in on some of the tech behind the app, I think the most interesting or significant thing about Peche is the combination of skill-sets or pools of knowledge that have combined to create it. There have been bar and bartender apps before, but most, if not all of them, have been created by a third party developer with no hands-on knowledge of bar work.
Peche, on the the other hand, has been built by someone who has first hand experience of pretty much every bar job function, and an intimate understanding of what bartenders and operators need. To that end, Morten has designed Peche from the ground up to be a bespoke bar training tool, rather than a generic training app which has been re-skinned.
What does Peche do?
Peche is, essentially, a cocktail learning, reference, and development tool – a manager can enter all of a bar’s cocktail and bespoke ingredient recipes and methods into an administrator section, and these then become available to the bar team via apps installed on their iOS or Android phones. Once the specs are uploaded, things get interesting by way of AI built into the app, which can run flash card learning sessions for new staff or when new drinks are added to the menu, and run automated spec-tests which it will then score, saving tons of time for managers of big teams.
The AI also powers a clever search engine which allows a bar’s menu to to be sifted by ingredient, brand, or method – if a customer wants a stirred drink, made with El Dorado Rum and peanut butter (I don’t know, that’s what popped into my head), Peche will find options from the bar’s drinks list.
This might not seem that useful to a bar with a small and experienced team, but imagine running a high volume joint with a massive menu and some green bartenders, and it’s obvious to see how this function could greatly improve the experience of some guests.
Morten set BarLifeUK up with a test copy of the app, and I found the design to be a pleasing example of Scandinavian minimalism. Everything is very clean and the UI has been set up in such a way you don’t need to do a tutorial to use the app, it’s obvious what everything does and Peche is very easy to use, even for an old boy like me.
If you would like learn more about Peche and see how it works, contact Morten directly and he will set you up with a test account, which allows you to fully explore the app’s capabilities. The teams at Swift and Funkidory, are already using Peche, so next time you drop in for a dram, you could also ask how they are using it.
If, having played with the demo, you decide Peche works for your bar team and would like to roll it out, the app costs £20 per month for up to 5 users.