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Shaking It up With New Technology in Bars

How one Colorado bar is using scientific lab equipment to streamline its processes.

The word “technology” means “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.” Ask any busy bartender what his or her dream is, and undoubtedly they’ll say they would give anything for a second pair of hands. This was the thought Ty Fulcher, of the 23-seat Social in Fort Collins, had when he visited his sister’s laboratory at UCLA in 2013. “My sister is an immunologist, and when I visited her lab, she had one of those magnetic stir plates,” he says. “I told her I could totally use one of those devices to make cocktails faster. She rolled her eyes and said, ‘No, you can’t.’ I ordered a used one on eBay that night for $150.”

Lab beaker filled with ice and red cocktail sitting on a magnetic stir plate with bottles in background. Social in Ft. Collins, technology in restaurants.
Social’s beaker contents are definitely more delicious than a typical lab’s.
/ Courtesy Social

Fulcher and his staff pre-batch cocktails; when one is ordered, the drink goes into a lab beaker with Kold Draft ice cubes (1 1/4 inch-ers) and a magnetic stir rod. The machine’s magnets turn the rod inside the beaker at 200 rotations per minute, as if a bartender were stirring it. 

“It’s like having an extra bartender,” Fulcher says. Each service well is fitted with a unit that can hold five stirring beakers. Each beaker can hold four cocktails at a time. “Technically, we could have 40 drinks stirring at once,” he says. “Realistically, we have 15 to 16 drinks turning and we continue to build and shake cocktails while others are stirring on the machines.”

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