British chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton is dipping his toes into the virtual reality game. According to the London Evening Standard, the chef, who has three Michelin-starred restaurants in London (Pollen Street Social, Social Eating House, and City Social), thriving restaurants in Asia, and opened clubhouse the Clocktower in New York in 2015, is launching the first-ever “augmented reality cocktail menu” at the bar at City Social, his restaurant on the 24th floor of London’s Tower 42. In an apparent grab for social media shares, the drinks will be real, but appear on your phone screen with virtual art that reflects the cocktails’ themes and flavors.
The London Evening Standard shared photo previews of the cocktails as they would appear on the app, which included the Calavera, a tequila-based cocktail surrounded by Dia de los Muertos skeletons in a mariachi band, and the Wheatfields With Fizz, a simple, wheat-colored cocktail on a backdrop filled with references to Van Gogh paintings. The menu will also include the Dogstone Brew, a gin-based cocktail served in a glass coffee cup that appears on the app alongside Monty Python-esque imagery.
To see the cocktails come to life, bar goers will have to download an app, called Mirage, to their iPhone or Android. The drinks arrive on a mat that the phone scans like a QR code. Drinkers can then snap and share the images, as the app’s creators, bar executive Jamie Jones and bar manager Tim Laferla, intended.
Fast food and fast-casual restaurants, like Taco Bell and Sweetgreen, have long infused their operations with tech through ordering apps, but an app for a purely aesthetic purpose, launched by a fine-dining restaurant, is rare. After all, who wants to download an app for a one-time experience?
According to the London Evening Standard, Jones said the idea was initially sparked by a desire to emulate the theatrical and social media-friendly cocktail service popular at other London cocktail bars. The launch is currently planned for mid-June. Although an augmented reality cocktail seems gimmicky, Atherton told the Evening Standard, “We are treating our approach to drinks across the group as seriously as we do our food to ensure quality and creativity shine through.”
Like the emoji menus of last year, look for augmented reality menus to briefly catch on this summer. It’s one way to integrate VR into daily life.