A couple of months back an enquiry dropped into my inbox from our website. Would I be interested in contributing some thoughts about future bars in space to a marketing campaign for Ballantine’s whisky? Normally this sort of thing would be a paid gig. But it was an interesting campaign and I was just starting out on a three hour train journey. So I figured, what they hell. Why not? I banged out some thoughts and sent them over.
Two months later the campaign launches and it turns out what I sent didn’t make the cut. Fair play, they got some very cool other contributors, as you can see from this piece on Medium. So, loathe to let my ramblings go to waste, I thought I’d share them here. What would my bar of the future look like in space? Like this.
There are some obvious examples from fiction that it is hard to get away from: Mos Eisley from Star Wars, and more recently the bar on Knowhere from Guardians of the Galaxy. But thinking practically I can see two very different visions of a future bar in space.
The Miner’s Arms
The first is a miners’ bar. A 22nd century working men’s club, though by then I hope the gender balance is a little more even.
It’s a very realistic prospect that we will be mining asteroids before long. Serious investment is already going into companies for whom this is the business model. While much of this difficult, dangerous work is likely to be handled by machines, I think we’ll also need a fair few humans up there. Controlling, repairing and occasionally handling the delicate or complex tasks that the human form and mind is so well adapted for.
Unless there’s a very big change in culture between now and the next century I think these people are likely to want a drink when their shift is over.
If space mining is anything like oil rigs, then drugs and alcohol will be banned at the mine itself. You don’t want someone drunk in charge of a space craft or mining laser. But as the industry grows there may well be a market for a little off-site R&R.
The Spaceport Lounge
The second bar that would make a lot of sense — at least commercially — is the spaceport lounge. Nothing passes the time between interplanetary transports like a few whisky sours. Since space travel isn’t likely to be cheap (at least in the early days), these are going to be classy places with prices to match.
As someone who travels a lot, I can see myself spending time here. Trying hard to temper my drinking so as to induce witty words for my fellow travellers, and maybe a good sleep on the ‘flight’, rather than having to drunkenly flap towards my gate.
Of course, there may be gravity in this notional future: with the asteroid mines up and running there should be plenty of material to construct bigger spinning space stations. The challenge today has been lifting all those heavy construction components out of earth’s gravity. Not a problem if your materials come from space.
The bar would need a great view, obviously. Some of the recent advances in single layer materials should like graphene should enable us to have large expanses of window. Or perhaps more likely, ultra-HD video of the outside view would play through a seamless screen embedded in the walls.
Seating would be interesting. Until there is gravity, a barstool with a seatbelt might have to suffice.
The lighting would need to be dim so as not to distract from the view, and to hide the worst wrinkles of the weary space travellers. There would be a great soundtrack of space-themed tunes. It would be an eclectic mix: everything from Sun Ra to Holst’s ‘The Planets’, Air’s ‘Kelly Watch the Stars’ to Ash’s ‘Girl from Mars’.
In the middle of a technological marvel it would be good to have some old school, analogue humanity at the heart of it. A great bar tender, skilled with the mixing and ready to listen to a traveller’s tales.