AI technology revolution can aid industry

22 June, 2023

AI expert Chris Lowder explains to Shay Waterworth how the technology can be a boon to the drinks sector.

Artificial intelligence is here. But don’t worry, we’re not going to war with Skynet just yet. Businesses are wising up to the potential AI has for more effective, accurate and efficient working but, so far, the drinks industry has been slow to embrace the technology.

AI has the potential right now to affect just about every section of the drinks industry and Chris Lowder, co-founder of Lowder-Tascarella Hospitality (LTH), is currently an authority on the subject. While he initially used AI tools to improve his consulting work, Lowder is currently on a tour of the US giving seminars to spirits brands on how AI can change the way businesses are run.

“We started working with these tools early because, especially when creating concepts, it’s always been a challenge to create visuals and mood boards for what you want a bar to look like,” says Lowder. “For clients, these tools are revolutionary because we can effectively get what’s in our heads made real for them to visualise almost instantly.”

The technology is mind-blowing, and the pace at which it is evolving means that TikTok, Twitter and Reddit are some of the best places to keep updated. Yet, to most people, AI is still just used to generate flattering illustrations for Instagram, but to Lowder it’s a much bigger beast.


“Chat GPT is the programme we use the most,” he says. “It’s plugged into the internet, so it’s essentially read everything. However, what makes it useful to us is that you can give it a personality. For example, if you’re a distributor based in Hong Kong and a brand sends you a proposal, you can create a detailed business plan instantly. You simply tell Chat GPT that it’s a distributor of premium spirits based in Hong Kong, copy and paste the brand’s proposal into the programme, and it generates a highly detailed, accurate plan of action. Anything you ask it to do it can do it at great detail and this saves hours of your time.

“For us, AI takes care of the low-value, high-effort work you don’t want to do, allowing you to be creative and focus on the stuff which makes you valuable.”

Chat GPT has lots of other functions and you can link it with different tools called plugins. You can therefore plug in Expedia, for example, and ask it to plan a business trip for you. You tell it you want to go to Singapore for three nights, which places you want to visit and your budget and it will book the entire trip, from flights to restaurant reservations for the best rates and based on your interests and social media. Oh, and it lays it all out in a detailed itinerary for you.

Midjourney is the graphics programme which LTH uses to generate illustrations. The programme works both ways, so if you give it an image of a bar, it will tell you what it sees and which artists and styles it has been inspired by. You can use this image as inspiration and tell the programme what you want changing and it generates a range of options on the spot. “You can basically ask it to make anything you want with a description in any art style in history.”

Lowder demonstrated the detail and flexibility of the programme by requesting a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-style speakeasy and it created several detailed illustrations in seconds. They were accurate, with dark greens and purples looking like the underground HQ of Raphael and the gang. With these AI programmes there’s no longer niche, because they know everything that already exists, and therefore it’s quicker, easier and more effective than explaining your concept to a designer. During a presentation, Lowder also took an image of some models and the image of a Tanqueray bottle and the programme generated a variety of bar uniforms for branded events.

Lowder adds: “All of this is a tiny part of what AI can do and it’s changing daily. There isn’t really an area of the drinks industry that AI can’t make faster, easier, better and at a lower cost. It’s just a case of understanding the programmes and familiarising yourself with how they work. It’s still the case that if you don’t know what you want to achieve, then you’re lost. But AI allows us to better communicate what it is we want more efficiently and to a higher quality.

“We’re moving from a society that valued facts and answers, to one which values questions. It’s now all about being able to ask intuitive questions to get the best answers because, ultimately, AI will be answering the questions you ask it, and the best answers come from the best questions.”

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