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Let’s face it—the science of drinking didn’t advance much during the last century.

Aside from the martini, the lounge and the pop-top beer can (and the rather suspect inventions of light beer and, egad, Zima) most of the really good work was done by medieval monks and ancient Egyptians.
The 21st century, however, promises to be a rummy Rennaisance for hard drinkers. Driven by I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now consumerism, a veritable host of new alcohol products are crowding the horizon and soon we will be able to get more efficiently and stylishly hammered than our ancestors ever dreamed possible. Here’s how:

 

Timeline: Present—2010

Instant Alcohol
Surely one of the most annoying things about being a drunk on the go is those heavy, unwieldy bottles you have to lug around. Sure, they get lighter as you go, but why not remove all the stress and strain by carrying around powder packets of your favorite hooch? All you need is access to water and you’ve got a party in your pocket. Easily concealed and unrecognizable as booze, it will be a snap to sneak liquor into sporting events, divorce proceedings and church.

How close are we? We’re already there, baby! Developed in Japan and imported by Senba Foods of San Francisco, you can choose from an extensive line of powdered alcohols, including rum, red wine, white wine, whiskey, brandy and vodka flavors. Some of them weigh in at a potent 60 proof.

How’s the taste? Well, just how thirsty are you? At the moment Senba suggests you just use the powders as a food or coffee additive, but it’s only a matter of time before they refine the recipes to something you wouldn’t be embarrassed to pass around at the ball park. Check out the future now at www.senbausa.com/import.html.
cocktail had
The Cocktail Hat

This remarkable gadget will make the contemporary beer hat look like a worthless piece of crap. With six liquor containers and two mixing reservoirs, all you have to do is turn a couple knobs and presto! A perfectly made cocktail is only a sip away. So when can you get one?

Believe it or not, the patent has existed since 1987, but no company has yet to display the foresight and wisdom to mass produce it. No wonder the economy is laying in a ditch.

beer talksInteractive Alcohol
It’s true—drinking alone can sometimes be downright lonely. But what if, just what if, the bottle itself was capable of sharing a conversation?. I don’t mean those bender hallucinations you sometimes enjoy, I mean, the bottle is actually rapping with you. Or, at least for now, at you.

In the May issue we reported a Russian inventor has developed bottle caps that encouraged you to drink with snappy quips (“Didn’t that go down good? Let’s have another!”) The inventor has now announced bar jokes will be added to the caps’ vocabulary and, as microchips become cheaper, it’s only be a matter of time before every bottle of hooch has its own evil little brain. Beer bottles that reach a certain temperature after being opened will get you motivated with a snarled, “Hey lightweight, are we drinking or holding hands here?” Tequila bottles will be able to recommend a good bailbondsman, MD 20/20 bottles will direct you to the nearest homeless shelter and Zima bottles will offer advice on redecorating your hair salon. “The booze made me do it” will take on a whole new meaning.

A less obtrusive (but surely less entertaining) form of interaction is being developed by St. Andrews University in Scotland. They’ve invented ultra-thin curved organic light-emitting diode displays that may soon become commonplace on beer bottles and cans. The screen will relate information about the beer, encourage you to buy another round and even download the latest sports scores.

And finally, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories has come up with a more practical form of interaction—their new iGlassware system sends an electronic signal to the bartender or waitress when your pint or highball is running low. The waitress need only examine her palmtop to see who’s thirsty and who’s slacking. Never again will a cocktail waitress be able to say, “Oh, you wanted a drink? I thought you were just doing some jumping jacks.”

Blackout Recorder
Why trust your drinking buddies (whose memory is notoriously unreliable and extraordinarily prone to exaggeration) to inform you of exactly what manner and multitude of idiotic stunts you pulled last night? Much like the little black box installed in aircraft, the Blackout Recorder fits over one ear and kicks into action when your blood alcohol reaches a preset level. From that moment on the recorder gathers a visual and audio file of exactly which outrages you perpetrate. Never again will you wonder who wants to kill you, which bars you can’t go back to, and where all your rent money went.

The Spinning Bed Negation Device
One of the crueler side-effects of ambitious imbibing is that cruelest of late night horrors: the bedspins. With a little honest effort and ingenuity, however, this blight upon hooched humanity may soon go the way of polio and the Anti-Saloon League. The simple yet ingenious Negation Device utilizes an electric motor to spin the suffering drunkard’s bed in the opposite direction and speed of his internal spinning, thus canceling out the loathsome effect. The direction and speed are controlled by a remote and the bed will continue to rotate until a sensor determines the over-imbibed slips peacefully into REM state.

If there are any amateur scientists out there who decide to construct a prototype of this device, contact me and I’ll be happy to personally run it through an exhaustive battery of tests. No pressure, but if you can finish it by next weekend, all the better.

The Robartender
Robots make our cars, bottle our beer and mow our lawns, why the devil aren’t they making our drinks?

barbotImagine it: a highly efficient machine manning the taps and racks, never jawing with the floozies, never taking a smoke break, never making snide comments about your daring wardrobe, and capable of perfectly blending any cocktail that has ever been typed into a database.

Sheer science fiction, you say? Well, I got news for you, luddite. The future has already arrived at Cynthia’s Cyberbar in London, where two robots (Cynthia and Rastas) are already cranking out the cocktails. You step up to the bar, choose one of forty cocktails on the control panel and Cynthia dishes out the drink with a side of robotic sass. Don’t bother with any clever rejoinders, however, at the moment she isn’t programmed to respond to voice commands. Much like some of her human counterparts.

But don’t think the United States is lagging, in one San Francisco bar the waitresses communicate with a voice-activated robot barman via a radio headset. The talented robot can mix 150 different drinks and also totals your tab.

Ever walk up to the bar and draw a complete blank? In the future that will no longer be an embarrassment. Smart Studio Ltd. has already rolled out a working prototype of the Brain Bar. Without a word or whine from you, the robot bartender working this self-contained minibar chooses your cocktail according to your mood, as determined by your brainwave patterns. Not even Isaac on the Love Boat could do that.

As robotic and voice-recognition technologies evolve, the day will surely come when you’ll be able to get relationship advice, point spreads, casual conversation, and perhaps even snide remarks about your daring wardrobe from the iron man behind the wood. Not to mention being capable of assuming the personality of your choice, whether it be the flirty barmaid, the exquisitely mannered gentleman’s gentleman, or the the gruff Brooklyn beer slinger. Just don’t forget to tip, or you might find some WD-40 in your whiskey sour.

The Bender Jacket

A radically specialized variation of the venerable bush jacket, this boon to bending will become an essential accessory for your next extended urban drinking adventure/downward spiral into hell. The Bender Jacket takes care of the small stuff so you can focus on the big picture—staying loaded!

Features include:
(1) A built-in plastic straw running from the collar to (2) oversized, liter-bottle sized pockets bender jacketprovides instant refreshment, removing the social stigma of carrying a highball into a supermarket, bank or courthouse. (3) A clear plastic document holder (suitable for pink slips or a snapshots of your ex) lets you wear your reason for binging on your sleeve for quick and easy reference when your motivation starts to flag. (4) A digital timer keeps track of how many hours and days have slipped into the abyss and beeps you awake when the liquor stores open. (5) Pull the handy draw ring and a CO2 cartridge instantly inflates (6) air pockets in the jacket, making the hardest alley asphalt seem like a feather mattress. It also serves as an injury-preventing personal airbag when the bouncer gives you an impromptu flying lesson. (7) A flip-down visor concealed into the hood blocks out that nasty headache-inducing sunlight during your daylight travels from bar to bar. (8) The heavily insulated hood effectively blocks out the mindless screeching of your new alley friends and the concerned words/uncontrollable sobbing of your family and friends. (9) Its vomit/fortified-wine resistant shell will minimize embarrassing stains and the thermal lining will keep you toasty in the coldest dumpster.

When can you expect to see this marvel on the shelves? Soon! Modern Drunkard Industries is in the process of patenting this friend of drunkardkind even as you read this. The Bender Jacket—it’s benderific!

Beverage Container Chilling Element
Is there anything more grating than waiting for a case of beer to chill in the fridge? And what is more annoying than lugging around heavy coolers just so you don’t have to swill lukewarm lager?

Those evil days will soon be forgotten with the arrival of the fabulous Beverage Container Chilling Element. Just twist the base of the can and a vacuum pulls heat from the liquid and into in a cooling element, dropping the beer’s temperature 30 degrees fahrenheit in three minutes.

When oh when, you ask, will I be able to get my undeserving paws on this wonder?
How about right now? Self-heating containers have been used by the U.S. military and Japanese sake distillers for years, but it wasn’t until recently that Tempra Technology Inc. introduced the I.C. Can (as in Icy Can), a self-chilling beer container. Large-scale consumer testing has already begun and it should be available nationwide next year. And you thought scientists just sat around inventing dumb stuff like artificial organs and space shuttles.

Vita-Booze
They stick vitamins in breakfast cereal, sports drinks, junk food and candy—so why haven’t they put it in booze? Especially since alcohol tends to strip the body of certain vitamins and minerals (and that’s the last time you’ll hear me bad mouth alcohol).

Foreshadowed in my Jake Strait, Bogeyman futuristic action-adventure novels in the late ‘90s (out of print, sadly, but still available at better libraries and amazon.com), Ginsengin, Vitabeer and Nutrarum just make good sense. You’d expect there’d be a flood of such products, but as yet there is only a trickle, namely:

On behalf of a California company, the Gluek Brewing Company is gearing up to produce the world’s first alcoholic energy drink, called “Hard E.” The 5% alcohol beverage will contain ginseng extract, vitamins and other nutrients in a clear malt base.

Furthermore, government health officials in Scotland are encouraging brewers to add the vitamin thiamin—also known as Vitamin B1—to their beers because it might reduce alcohol-related health problems.

Just think of it—when some prude inquires as to why you’re drinking before noon, in the near future you can look him straight in the eye and honestly say, “Hey, I’m just taking my vitamins.”

recarbonatorThe Recarbonator Wand
A powerful ally of the frugal drunkard, this inexpensive tool will put the fizz back into those flat half-finished beers you often find the morning after a booze up. Just insert the wand’s extended nozzle into a can, push the button and a seconds later the beer is refreshed and the party can rev right back up. Large industrial versions of this device already exist, and it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be miniaturized to something you can fit in your pocket. The tragedy of flat beer and champagne will be just a cruel echo from a primitive past and the beer companies will never ever allow this device to be manufactured.

Drunkard Retrieval Service
Like a Triple A for alcoholics, paying monthly dues to this organization will ensure you’ll make it safely home after a full-bore evening of heavy hooching. The size of a watch, the DRS device is activated by pushing the Panic Button or when the device senses you haven’t moved around in a while.

Following the signal of the built-in Global Positioning Device, a polite attendant will track your location, whether it be a bar, back alley or strange apartment, place you into a wheel chair, load you into a van, drive you home and put you to bed. Good night, sweet prince!


Timeline: 2010—2020

The Translurlator
Communication is an integral part of the drinking experience, and making yourself understood after that fifteenth round is oftentimes a frustrating ordeal, especially when you’re trying to line up that sixteenth.

transluratorThis is where the Translurlator comes into play. Attached to the wrist like an oversized watch, it translates your crude mumbles into standard English bartenders and bar vamps alike can understand.

It would, for example, make quick work of these insults to the mother tongue:

Wannanotherjaaunkookdammid. I would like another Jack and Coke, please.
Urbooofullaintya. Aren’t you quite the attractive young lady.
Wattsamadderyoostukup? May I talk to you?
Taemeomeiyewonpukeonya. Please drive me to 1255 Lafayette Street. If I start to vomit, I promise to stick my head out the window.

The Translurlator, of course, will arrive as a mere harbinger of a vast wave of essential bar accessories. Foremost of these advances will undoubtedly be—

The Booze Buddy
The drunk’s ace in the hole, intrepid companion and infallible second brain, the Booze Buddy will enhance the drinking experience like nothing before it. Worn around the neck, this interactive database of information and wisdom will keep the imbiber on his toes and out of trouble.

Key features include:
1.) Keeps you alerted to nightly drink specials.mullet crown
2.) Utilizing its voice-recognition system, it swiftly puts to rest any alcohol-related question you might have, describing in excruciating detail the history, proof and quality of any new liquors you may stumble across.
3.) Summons a cab and gives directions to your home when you are incapable of speaking anything resembling a human language.
4.) Assumes the voice and persona of your favorite drinking hero, be it Hemingway, Gleason or Sinatra.
5.) Suggests interesting new drinks and keep tabs on your bar tab.
6.) Lends motivational advice. For example, the Jackie Gleason persona might suggest: “Say, pal, it’s been half an hour since you’ve done a shot. Are we livin’ it up or waiting to die?”
7.) Gives sound and savvy advice should a bar fight break out, such as, “Duck!” and “Shall I summon you an ambulance, sir?”
8.) Reminds you to make prudent preemptive hangover strikes, nagging you until you take vitamins and drink four pints of water.
9.) Never again will you have to mumble half-hearted excuses to guilt-inducing winos needling you for spare change. Upon recognizing a demand for lucre, your Buddy will announce in an authoritative voice the rejection of your choice: “Sorry, can’t help ya, pal,” “Just fed it all into the parking meter,” or the classic: “You think I bust my hump all week just to keep you fat and sassy?”
10.) Feeds you the freshest pick-up lines when you’re not obnoxious enough to remember any.

The Booze Buddy is at least a decade away, but one promising step in the right direction is a recent development by technicians at England’s Bristol University. They’ve prototyped a watch-sized computer capable of directing you to the nearest waterhole. Wherever the wearer goes, the HandPC connects to a global positioning satellite and displays a short description and step-by-step directions to the four nearest pubs. Barhopping has never been so easy.

The U-Pourium
Dreamt up by former Drunkard of the Month and cocktail visionary Johnny Briggs, may he rest in peace, this efficient autobar will get you bombed with a minimal amount of human interaction. Let’s face it, there are times when we do not wish to speak to even a bartender, especially when all we have to pay with is a fistful of spare change. The super efficient U-Pourium will effectively remove this inconvenience and embarrassment from your life. Just feed in bills, spare change or swipe a credit card through one of the bar-mounted drinking stations, punch in the drink of your choice, then pour your own with the handy gas-pump style nozzle.

When it’s time for the bar to close, ever louder claxons will chase the patrons into the street and antiseptic sprinklers will scour the modular plastic interior, ensuring the U-Pourium is sparkling and ready the next wave of winos.

Timeline: 2020—2030

Virtual Drinking Buddies
Why go to the bar and drink with a gang of idiots when you can drink with your idols? Within twenty years you can expect Virtual Personality Taverns: drinking establishments equipped with bar-top monitors on which will appear friends drinking at other bars, interesting strangers on the other side of the globe and the programmed personas of your favorite drinking personalities. Think of it, instead of talking sports with the nabob sitting next to you, you can chat with your best friend on the other side of town, match shots with a fellow drunkard in Moscow, prod Frank Sinatra into an argument with F. Scott Fitzgerald, or try to drink Dylan Thomas under the table.

Cable Cocktails
Just like signing up for cable television, in a better future we’ll be able to sign up for a service that will deliver liquor and wine to your home via a bundled group of plastic tubing running beneath the streets of the city. The cable company-installed automated minibar will do the mixing, all you have to do is the drinking. Basic service will include house wines, vodka, whiskey, gin and rum, premium service will offer single-malts, premium wines and brandy. When is a house not a home? When it doesn’t have cable cocktails installed, baby!

The Sober Up Pill
This fantastic pill will relegate DUIs and pink slips to the mists of history. Pop one of these metabolism accelerators before getting behind the wheel or showing up for court, and your chemically-abetted liver will crank the booze out of your bloodstream in fifteen minutes flat. Sound too good to be true?

We’re getting closer every year. One promising recent arrival is ReGenesis BioPurify, the offspring of medical attempts to regenerate damaged livers. This herbal remedy appears to retard drunkenness when taken before drinking and negate hangovers when taken after.

Across the ocean, an elixir called Desalco is sweeping the bars and cafes of France. This fructose-based colorless liquid contains a concentration of natural ingredients designed to slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, effectively neutralizing breathalyser tests and giving the user a temporary window of sobriety to make it home in one piece.

Due to these advances, MADD will soon fade like its evil predecessors, forcing its adherents to go back to shilling Mary Kay products and thinking of new names for their ever-multiplying horde of cats.

Corrective Beer Goggles
Never wake up next to a bed monster again. The CBG monitors your blood alcohol level and adjusts your vision accordingly with its digitally-enhanced binohatlenses. To compensate for the natural proclivity of alcohol to make people seem more attractive, the goggle’s computer will add harsh lighting, magnify flaws and even digitally add facial warts and scars in case you get really hammered.

An additional feature will measure a prospective romantic conquest’s attractiveness by sonically mapping her face and body. Cross-referencing that data with with the results of a battery of tests that determined what you consider attractive while sober, the goggles will then assign a numerical rating to anyone you point the device at, leaving you to decide just how desperate you really are.

It’ll probably go a little something like this: “The goggles says you’re a 27, but baby, you sure look like a 86 to me! You are a woman, right?”