Bars of the future

Illustrations by Marie Bergeron

Inspired by Ballantine’s Space Glass, we asked five visionaries to dream up their bar of the future: a place where they could while away the hours and talk about those heady days on terra firma.


Ben Davis, Director of Photography Guardians of the Galaxy

British cinematographer Ben Davis is one of the film industry’s most respected and called­ upon visionaries. His remarkable and varied work on Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick­-Ass, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Wrath of the Titans and Seven Psychopaths has recently been furthered by his critically-­lauded work on Marvel Comics’ Avengers: Age of Ultron, the beautifully evocative Guardians of the Galaxy and even our very own Ballantine’s Space Glass sci-fi epic.

Ben says: “A bar in space in the near future…I suppose first one would have to think of the technicalities, I’m imagining this bar is on some sort of space station, platform or even on an orbiting asteroid. The gravitational issues would have to be addressed and rather than creating a venue with a gravitational source, let’s imagine zero gravity is embraced. Liquid could move around this space and be gathered by the patrons either by a receptacle or straight into the mouth. I see no reason for people to be tethered or strapped in and I think they would move around the space freely. The space would have to be designed to allow this. I imagine the station orbits a planet or sun that provides the light source and the main aspect of the bar and opening times would be based on its orbit of the planet, i.e. to coincide with sunrise or sunset. The space would be functional and industrial as I am picturing pioneering space travel and a place for workers to relax; music would be a part of this and technologies would be basic and purely functional.”

Simon Guerrier and Dr Marek Kukula, authors of The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who (BBC Books, 2015)

Simon Guerrier is a science fiction author and dramatist, and one of the principal writers behind the much beloved fictional universe of Doctor Who. Alongside Dr Marek Kukula, the Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, they have written the The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who, which explores the possibilities of time travel, life on other planets, artificial intelligence and parallel universes. The book articulates how Doctor Who uses science to inform its unique style of storytelling — and just how close it has often come to predicting future scientific discoveries.

Simon and Mark say: “A lot of what we think of as cool 1960s design is really an attempt to answer this question, imagining a space aesthetic imported back to Earth. It would be fun to make the most of being in space by building the bar into the rock of an asteroid or the ice of a comet, or have it focused around enormous windows to emphasise the view…
“But if you were really to construct a bar in space, perhaps you’d want it to remind you of the comforts of home, like the English pubs you get in tourist resorts in other countries.
“How can you even have a bar in a weightless environment? On the International Space Station, they use Velcro to stick things down, so perhaps there’d be Velcro strips on the bar to stick your glass to, and Velcro on the bar stools to stick you down, too. For all you might have glasses that work in zero or low gravity, you’d also need to think about spillages. There’s a reason pubs on Earth have dark and patterned carpets — but what about when blobs of liquid can float anywhere?
“There’s also the question of what you’d serve to drink. Wine and beer can spoil if not shipped carefully, without being shaken up or affected by big changes in temperature. Centuries ago, brandy was added to wine to fortify it against sea voyages as the additional ethanol in the brandy acts as a preservative. That also made them stronger, sweeter and nicer smelling, which made fortified wines such as port and sherry popular — so wines are still fortified today, but for aesthetic rather than practical reasons. Even so, in the early 1970s NASA considered sending sherry into space because of its stability.
“At the time, the agency was working on ways to make food and drink more interesting for astronauts spending longer periods off Earth, such as on the orbiting space station Skylab. For a number of reasons — practical and political — the idea was abandoned, as you can read about in Nicola Twilley’s piece for Gizmodo: “Why Astronauts Were Banned From Drinking Wine In Outer Space”. As that piece says, there are other examples of alcohol in space. Russian cosmonauts on extended missions have been prescribed cognac — another fortified wine — for its perceived health benefits.
“But we don’t just have to think about the kind of alcohol that can be safely shipped into space. Ethanol, water, ice, carbon dioxide and various aromatic hydrocarbons are all very abundant in space, so the basic ingredients of a vodka and tonic are already out there. Except that weightlessness affects your sense of taste and smell. Without gravity, blood swells your face and tongue, and your sinuses don’t drain as effectively. It’s been described by astronauts as like having a perpetual head cold, which makes food and drink taste bland and boring. As a result, astronauts often spice up their food with pepper or wasabi. Former astronaut Chris Hadfield particularly liked to add shrimp cocktail because — as he said in his book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (2013) — the horseradish “startles the sinuses and brings welcome tears to your eyes”.
“So we imagine our bar as a traditional English pub looking out on the majestic landscape of an asteroid. There’ll be plenty of Velcro on all our furniture and dark, stain­hiding carpets on the walls and ceilings. Our micro­brewery will offer a range of flavoured vodkas, each with its own special kick guaranteed to make your eyes water. Patrons are advised to drink in moderation as vomit in a zero­gravity environment is not nice.”

Jamie Bamber, Captain Apollo, Battlestar Gallactica

Jamie Bamber is famous for playing Lee “Apollo” Adama in the hit television series Battlestar Galactica. A pioneer of the British invasion of American television, his iconic turn as the re-imagined Captain Apollo, from the original 1978 series, has endeared him to millions of sci-fi fans on earth and the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.

Jamie says: “Let’s hit the space bar…
“I’ve done bars in space. And they were no different to those on earth. I’ve been there to find someone. I’ve been there to forget someone. I’ve drunk alone. I’ve drunk to share. But they were windowless places to put your back to the world. And that was fiction.
“When I hit this space bar it would be just that. Space. The space to contemplate. No backs to the world, all glass, a sphere, like our own, orbiting our own, with everyone facing out, the bar circular.
“But there would be two choices. Inner or outer.
“Those choosing inner would face our planet as they orbit closely, contemplating, the different continents as the scroll past, our past. Those choosing outer would face the stars and galaxies beyond, contemplating our aspirations, the space we might be pushed to.
“But each section would have its own inner and outer. Outer for buzz. Inner for peace. A convenient vacuum soundproofing them from each other. This might be our future, but this space honours our past. The only concession to technology would be an individual glass screen on the bar top, at each table; a screen to enhance whatever you are contemplating, whatever has drifted into view, images, live events, histories, theories, or simply to connect and share your thoughts with loved ones back on Earth or further out into the Dark.
“The only rule would be no straws or squeezable packaged space drinks. Real glasses, real ice. Real ale, real scotch, all sipped from stools and booths you lock onto magnetically, from glasses with magnetic bottoms. How you keep the froth from floating off is your concern (the retractable glass caps might help).
“But at least you can’t slip, and drunkenly bang your head.”

Lucy McRae, Body Architect and Artist

Lucy McRae is an artist and visionary juxtaposed between the worlds of fashion, technology and the human form. Describing herself as a ‘body architect’, she trained as a classical ballerina and an architect, and her staggering body of work involves inventing and building structures on the skin that reshape the human silhouette. Her provocative and at times grotesquely beautiful imagery is evocative of a new life form; a human archetype existing in a futuristic world. Lucy’s art is powerful, primal and impulsive and combines art and science in a way rarely encountered before.

Lucy says: “My impressions of a weightless bar, takes the form of a malleable swimming pool that serves various functions; first and foremost the volume of water surrounds and protects the body from cosmic rays (radiation). Each inhabitant wears a liquid textile, made from transparent tubes delivering air and consumable-able liquids to the mouth. This neutrally buoyant environment, feels sublime as the body floats in water, as it floats weightlessly without gravity.”

Studio Swine, Designers of the Future 2015 (Telegraph Luxury Design Visionaries)

Studio Swine is a collaboration between Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves. Azusa graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Alexander from the Ruskin School of Fine Art Oxford before both gaining an MA in Design Products at the Royal College of Art. Studio Swine explores design through material innovation and creating new sustainable systems whilst placing an equal importance on aesthetics, believing that desire is the greatest agent of change.

Operating in the fields of design, fashion and architecture, Studio Swine has worked with Swarovski & Droog and have exhibited at the Barbican, V&A, New York & London Fashion Week and Gwangju Biennale curated by Ai Wei Wei. Swine has been awarded international awards including the Gold Prize at BIO23 Biennale of Design Slovenia, and were awarded Designers of the Future at Design Miami/Basel in June 2015.

Studio Swine say: “When one thinks of bars in the future who doesn’t get that Cantina jazz music in your head or the three breasted prostitute from the bar in Venusville, Mars, that iconic red light district. According to Sci-Fi the bars will get sleazier and more dangerous and aliens from different species will communicate in the language of jazz.
“Pluto would be a great place for such a bar, as we know from the latest New Horizons mission the planet is a giant ice bucket. It takes nine years to get there so really the punters have no other choice and it’s the first port of call for visiting aliens from other solar systems. It’s far outside Earths legislation and so unregulated mining, gambling and brothels will make the Wild West look like daytime TV. It’s going to be wild and what happens on Pluto stays on Pluto, or at least in the Kuiper Belt.”

We’ll take whisky with us.

For more information on Ballantine’s Space Glass explore our Medium publication.


All illustrations by Marie Bergeron
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