NFTs enter the bar scene
A cocktail is truly a work of art. A bit of sweet here, a sour there, a pinch of citrus or milk, all mixed with the right spirit for a balanced drink that is both satisfying and captivating.
Mixed drinks have been a standard in bars for centuries and new concoctions appear all the time, as bartenders try new combinations or new liquors appear on the scene. And just like other artists and musicians, bartenders are also joining the blockchain movement, offering the recipes created based on their ingenuity to investors and collectors attracted to NFTs or Non-Fungible Token.
An NFT is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger (a blockchain) certifying that a digital asset is unique. Each NFT is unique and can’t be duplicated. NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain, a cryptocurrency like bitcoin or dogecoin. Similar to those digital assets, Ethereum blockchain has gone up in value in recent years, but is still preyed by volatility. After reaching a record price of more than $2,000 in March of 2021, it went down to $600 as suddenly. It now hovers around $1,900. That means something you buy for a price today may not be worth as much tomorrow. But as with other items, in the end the collector is the one who puts the price on a art piece.
To purchase an NFT, you need to have a non-custodial wallet linked to the blockchain technology of Ethereum. What makes blockchain unique is that its security system makes it nearly impossible to break.
Some blame the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept people at home with nothing to do but surf the web and more money to spend by saving on other outlets, for the rise in NFTs. Another factor is the popularity of bitcoin, ether and other digital coins, which –despite being highly volatile—have increased in value exponentially in recent years.
So far, NFTs have been used to represent photos, videos, audio and other types of digital files. A new cocktail recipe is no different to those items, it’s also an idea, a work brought about by creativity. And bartenders are starting to take advantage of this new medium. New York bar Quality Eats sold its “Into the Ether” cocktail in April for 0.75 ether, about $1,400 at the time. And many more are sure to come online.
Selling a new cocktail as a NFT is probably a good idea because by law mixed drinks can’t be copyrighted, meaning anyone can copy it. Now bartenders have a way to protect their creations by “minting” them, essentially locking them to the rest of the world.
An investor or collector who buys the cocktail NFT will get a code to unlock that file. So in a way, an NFT authenticates and lends value to the recipe. It also gives owners a registry of how that file is used.
While a digital file can be easily copied and shared, the blockchain publicly tracks every transaction associated with that file. An owner could potentially sue or request payment from those who use the file. Some experts praise NFTs for fixing a problem that has plagued artists displaying their works online: getting paid for the online distribution of their pieces. Since the rise of the Internet, anyone has been able to view images, videos and songs for free, without paying the creators behind them.
And like artists, bartenders and bars are putting their hard work and ingenuity up to bidders. That’s exactly what Portland, Oregon, bartender and writer Jacob Grier did when he created the NiFTy cocktail , which includes ¾ oz. Nonino amaro, 1 ½ oz Fino Sherry and 1 ¼ oz Tequila, served stirred with an orange twist.
Oslo, Norway, experimental bar and microbrewery Himkok also jumped on the trend when it partnered with Norwegian illustrator Esra Røise and dropped an entire cocktail menu as an NFT.
Each of the 13 drinks includes a certificate of Røise’s digital artwork. The product went on sale for between 0.5-1 ether, about $1,140 to $2,282.
World-renowned bartender and Altos Tequila brand Ambassador Simon Kistenfeger bought one of the cocktail NFTs.
As he explained on his Facebook page, he became the proud owner of Snap Pea after putting down 0.50 eth ($976.67) and outbidding other interested parties.
Apart from the bragging rights, Kistenfeger also gets the chance to visit a rum distillery, plus a certificate noting he’s the owner of the digital art associated with his drink recipe. “This will be the future in a couple of years,” said Kistenfeger, who also plans to launch an NFT of his own. A valuable online asset. However the future seems to be here already.
According to Forbes , NFT market transactions in 2021 have exceeded more than $400 million, nearly doubling the $250 million spent in 2020. A big chunk of that sum came from the $69.3 million a collector paid for a piece of digital art called “Everydays: The Firt 5,000 Days” by Wisconsin-based artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple. The 41-year-old illustrator has been posting an image online every day since 2007 and the work sold in March by the venerable auction house Christie is a collection of all those software-drawn pictures.
A cocktail recipe may not yet sold for those extraordinary sums, but given the right mix, combined with a famous bartending name, throw in a viral moment or influencer rep, and it could be just as valuable.