I went to visit some friends and we went out to a bar/pub in their area.
It was a new place. The bar had lots of flat screen TVs on the wall along with a nice internet jukebox, and some gaming machines. Behind the bar were fancy touch screen registers and some top shelf alcohol. I noticed on the bottles there were some weird pour caps, nothing I had seen before.
When I asked the bartender about them he explained they had little computer chips in them that talked to the cash registers. The chips would only allow the bottle to pour if the register said it was OK. The chip would also limit the amount of alcohol that was poured to the perfect shot. I did not believe him until he took out a full bottle and tipped it upside down and nothing came out. He then went over to the touch screen and put in my order and then tipped the same bottle and this time the rum came out. To prove his point, after the pour he tipped the bottle over again and nothing came out again.
The bar itself was a solid dark wood nothing to surprising, but all the tables at the place had a little built in touch screen. I was curious about it so I went over to a table where I saw some people using one and asked them about it. They told me, from the screen they could place drink orders or call over a waitress. Also they could use the screens for trivia, games, TV, internet, or even a little text chat with the people at another table. they even said these touch screen were spill proof. Although I did not test this feature for the pubs sake I hope it is true.
OK, so this place does not exist yet, but all these concepts are coming soon.
In England some computer science kids who were tired of waiting for a waitress at a busy pub and did not like standing up at the bar and waiting, thought it would be cool if they could just place and order from there table. They came up with the idea of the touch screens and the ability to do all sorts of things including ordering drinks for other tables, and yes even chatting. Currently the students have one system running at a pub in England where it is being product tested.
Here in the US I have come across the dreaded one pour shot pourer's. We all have a bartender who mixes drinks a little strong or gives out free ones to their buddies. Well with a new RFID system, bar operators can control how much alcohol gets poured. The system I ran into was the worst were they could only pour with money in the till. Some of these systems will actually allow you to pour without cash in the system, but it sends a signal to update a database with pour volume, and other tracking data. The manager then can compare the bar receipts with the amount of alcohol poured out. The best part is that employees can also be have an RFID tag on them so manger can see who poured well and who did not. Since the system tracks amount of alcohol served it can also help managers with inventory, or billing of special parties and banquettes.
So are the days of free drinks gone? Who knows, but somebody has to pay for all these improvements.