I'm a card-carrying reporter of the old school, and as such it's my professional duty to have a drink (or two) now and then. Sometimes I drink at home, sometimes at my local bar, where I\u2019m happy to schmooze with the man or woman behind the mahogany.\n\n\n\tBut in all my years of drinking, I\u2019ve never had one poured by a collection of circuit boards, microcontrollers, servo motors and plastic tubing, which is to say, a robot.\n\n\n\tLast week, a group of very clever folks got together in an art gallery in San Francisco\u2019s SOMA district and showed off a collection of robot bartenders. No, there\u2019s wasn\u2019t a humanoid-like C3PO making cocktails and chatting up the customers. Robotics hasn\u2019t advanced that far. But there was a collection of automated drink makers that put together a mean cosmopolitan, of which I had several, but only in the interests of reporting.\n\n\n\tThe one robot that looked a bit like the ones you'd see in old SciFi moves, couldn\u2019t mix a drink, but he was happy to dispense a shot of bourbon (see left).\n\n\n\tMany of the devices looked a bit retro, or even steam punkish, and in that spirit many of the inventors were in Victorian-era garb. Although the focus was on alcoholic beverages, Katherine Becvar, an Oakland librarian and seamstress created "The Tea Engine," which poured a variety of styles of tea, which you could choose by using an old fashion telephone dialer that has a programmable microcontroller inside. As I said, clever people.\n\n\n\tOne of the entries in BarBot 2013 was ShakeBot, a bartender robot that pees in the ingredients for a Manhattan, or any 3-ingredient cocktail (see above). It uses tiny versions of the Belgian statue "Manneken Pis" to whiz the booze into a central container which then gets shook up with LED ice cubes. I didn\u2019t taste this one.\n\n\n\tBy and large, the drinks were mixed more or less correctly and were about the right strength.\n\n\n\tMy favorite was the ThinBot, named after the cocktail-loving detective Nick Charles of Thin Man fame. It's creator, Kevin Roche (pictured to the right), who styles himself a brigadier general and "diplomatic attach\u00e9 to the Ministry of Gin," has a day job as an engineer with IBM Research. The ThinBot can whip up any of 16 cocktails made with a combination of eight ingredients. Darn tasty.\n\n\n\tBarbot is an annual event. This year it was a fundraiser for "RoboGames: The Olympics of Robots," which will be held in April in San Mateo, California. If they\u2019re pouring drinks, I'll be there.