Hilton makes innovative beverage system a talking point with customers

The first Hilton in the UK to install a machine that prints high-resolution graphics onto foam-topped drinks believes the uniqueness of the concept can only enhance its F&B proposition.

Hilton London Tower Bridge has captured the imagination of customers drinking in its popular TwoRuba bar and restaurant by using a Ripple Maker to emboss text and images on their cocktails.

Director of operations, James Ross, told FEJ he’s delighted that the venue is such an early adopter of the technology due to the impact it has made.

“It sparks so much conversation. No matter how you explain it to people that you can put something on a cocktail, it’s not until you see the level of detail on the graphics that you realise. It genuinely does have a ‘wow’ factor,” he said.

The system sits on top of the bar and works by combining patented 3D printer mechanics with Inkjet printing technologies. The beverage is placed on a self-rising tray and then the image or text is selected from the screen. It takes just a few seconds to print each design using a fine coffee extract. As well as cocktails it can be used on coffees.

Mr Ross said the equipment was first brought to his attention by Hilton’s food and beverage operations director for Europe and Israel, Anthony Worrall. He was impressed after being served a cocktail with his face on at one of the group’s international hotels.

Asked whether such an item of catering equipment would help TwoRuba to increase its margins on cocktails, he replied: “I think there is opportunity to exploit that. We have really gone down the social media route — making it a talking point and something for the bar to be synonymous with. I suppose you could put a premium on the cocktail, although I don’t think we will, it is more of a driver. Where we have done autumn cocktails and Christmas cocktails, we have not charged anymore because it has got a print on it, though we might sell more because it is on there.

“I think as more people see it, and we get more enquiries for conferencing and things like that, you could have a customer order a package but that would come with a barman and a machine. So it might be a conversion tool as opposed to a tool where we are actually making money from it. We wouldn’t have got the business without it, but we are not necessarily charging more for it.”

The Ripple Maker is produced by Ripples, which is owned by Steam CC, a privately held, venture-backed company.

Last year it appointed JetChill, a specialist in the supply of  theatrical bar and catering equipment systems, as its UK distributor.

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