The world’s first augmented reality cocktail menu shows new possibilities for immersive dining.

At Jason Atherton’s City Social restaurant and bar in London, visitors can soon enjoy an immersive experience with their drink. The Michelin-starred restaurant will welcome bar-goers with a new cocktail menu, Mirage, which launches in June. An accompanying smartphone app created by Mustard Design brings each beverage to life using AR.

Each drink provides a different experience, featuring artwork that reflects its flavors and themes. City Social has revealed that a few of the animations are inspired by renowned artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, and Banksy, “immers[ing] the guest in a vibrant world where great tasting cocktails become interactive art.”

Rather than a gimmick, the app is designed to enhance the overall cocktail experience. “Jamie [Jones, bar executive] and I want our drinks to be amongst the world’s best and we hope this will really put us on the map,” Atherton said in a statement. “We are treating our approach to drinks across the group as seriously as we do our food to ensure quality and creativity shine through.”

Augmented reality not only engages visitors, but encourages them to see, taste and experience food and drink in a new way. City Social reflects an integration of technology in this sector and a move towards immersive dining experiences. Visual technologies such as AR and VR can reinvent dining and bring attention to the tastes, stories, and ingredients behind each creation.

Virtual reality and augmented reality can also act as vehicles for transparency. KabaQ has created an AR menu app that allows visitors to see their options in 3D before deciding what to order. Similarly, food delivery startup Just Eat is partnering with Microsoft HoloLens to give customers an augmented preview of what their meal will look like before they pay. By showing consumers their product in a visual, interactive way, brands can earn consumer trust.

As a whole, AR continues to grow. The global augmented reality market is expected to grow to approximately 90 billion dollars by 2020. Food and drink brands have previously used AR in order to bring their packaging to life (past examples include Guinness and Heinz). With advances in AR, brands can now set their sights even higher than packaging.

Augmented reality has a lot to offer the experience economy, particularly within the food and drink sector. When used creatively, AR can spark customer engagement on a deeper level, offer entertainment, or even illustrate brand transparency. Brands should look for ways to leverage AR as consumers become increasingly accustomed to the technology.



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