Shaken & Stirred: Bib EX MACHINA

Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) and Nathan (Oscar Isaac) in Ex Machina. Credit: Universal Studios.

Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) and Nathan (Oscar Isaac) in Ex Machina. Credit: Universal Studios.

by Michael Cecconi

How badly do you want a drink? If it is just to get drunk then grab a fifth of vodka on your way home and knock yourself out. If you want all the joy and pain that is human interaction, then come see me. Or, if you are on a cruise ship, go see you nearest robo-bartender. The latest assault on the craft of mixology and the art of bartending. And the latest missed opportunity to hold machines to the highest possible standards. Remember: they don’t care. A robo-tender will work 24/7/365. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you have a drink. It is up to us to create these machines to do that which we cannot: make a drink that is consistently perfect: balance, temperature, dilution, everything meted out for the optimal cocktail time and time again. And we failed. The video below shows us a sleek mechanical arm, moving at a snail’s pace, doling out sub-fraternity drinks at a glacial clip. And as those of us who have been on a cruise know, those drinks need to come fast and furious.

Now what if we wanted to add in a dose of interpersonal contact? Why then I think we would need to go quite a step beyond the Johnny Cabs of Total Recall and brave the new frontier of Ava from Ex Machina. Ava is the one in a line of steadily more advanced AI robots all with the form of sexy, petite women made by Nathan, the Mark Zuckerberg-like creator of the Facebook-like Blue Book. Caleb, one of his programmers, wins a chance to hang out with Nathan at his impossibly sleek and beautiful house for a weekend. Caleb has no family, no connections, and is the perfect guinea pig to administer the lamest Turing Test ever filmed.*

When Dekker in Blade Runner sits down to administer the Turing test, it takes hours and he works methodically. In Ex Machina the two main characters, both men, engage with the wonder that is Ava with small talk. Small talk that consistently makes me cringe as much as what I overhear at the bar during the countless first dates I orbit.

Ava is full of intent, driven with a goal to get the fuck out of that room. And her measured simplicity seems the perfect cover. And how to convey the infinite that is an intellect informed by the Internet? So much information, and sooooo much bullshit. What do you think the ratio of useful truth to gibberish is on the net? Seventy/thirty? Ninety/ten? I want to see Ava tackle the parsing out of information. I think she fails the Turing test by not mentioning anything from the Internet, whether it be the 10 celebrities that have three nipples or which character the latest Marvel movie will feature. We have become a pastiche of the constant barrage of information that we access. Our depth of knowledge (apart from the supersmart cocktail information I have) is rapidly becoming a vast kiddie pool of tidbits of info. And that’s probably all people are looking for these days. Let us reference shared shallow signifiers fed to us by our corporate overlords and bask in the (false?) sense of connection it gives us. The Internet is the opiate of the masses, no?

But Ava does not bother with trivia in order to make a connection to Caleb. She plays him like a fiddle and he underestimates her (gender?) at every turn. Isn’t the definition of a sociopath someone untethered by the chains of societal norms, acting of its own volition, no remorse, and in this instance, vast stores of knowledge?

So why are humans so obsessed with designing themselves out of the equation? We meat sacs are a messy lot. Who knows from what depths our self-abnegating feelings are realized, but I am beginning to think of Nathan as more of a feminist than first blush allows. Maybe it is his intent to create the perfect female … it is not humanity he seeks to overcome, but men. And I want to note that one of the most wonderful scenes from a movie this year is when Nathan and Ava and a sushi knife get some quality time in the hall. Note the acting, the CGI, the sound all coming together to create a truly unforgettable comeuppance.

Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) and Nathan (Oscar Isaac) in Ex Machina. Credit: Universal Studios.

Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) and Nathan (Oscar Isaac) in Ex Machina. Credit: Universal Studios.

So what is your pleasure tonight? What can I get for you? More often than not where I work that involves a discussion. A Turing Test for alcohol compatibility, if you will. And if you won’t talk to me, there are many bars where you can continue your building of ruts. I suggest a gin and tonic. Even a simple, two ingredient cocktail needs measure and balance. And when you add in the endless choices for gin, as well as the ever-expanding options for tonic, why then you have an artisanal cocktail.

So please find one of my favorite G and T’s below. And let’s try to stave off our inevitable doom at the hands of our machine overlords by slowing down, enjoying a fine cocktail, and having good conversations with real people.

*The Turing Test is a test to see if an Artificial Intelligence (AI) can pass as human. Called a Voight-Kampff test in Blade Runner.


Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) and Ava (Alicia Vikander) in Ex Machina. Credit: Universal Studios.


  • Collins glass
  • 2 oz Gun Club Gin (100 proof, more flavor to love)
  • 4 oz Fever Tree Tonic Water
  • Ice
  • Lime wedge

Have wedge of lime on hand. In a collins glass add the gin, then tonic, then ice. Garnish with lime wedge and enjoy.

  • Do not build this drink in an ice-filled glass.
  • Do not use a lime wheel. Use a wedge. It is meant to be squeezed if desired and wheels get you nowhere.
  • Do not use diet mixers. Ever.
  • Do not underestimate the gastronomic pleasure a simple, two-ingredient cocktail can provide. Gin and small bottles of tonic never go bad. Have a lime on hand (which should be a staple in your fridge) and cocktail hour is in full force.

Horizontal RuleMichaelCecconiMichael likes all things drink-related. Michael likes movies. And, in an odd twist of fate, Michael loves words about movies. These three facts combine to make a perfect storm of sensibility, ability, and inebriation needed to fulfill duties at EatDrinkFilms. When not rhapsodizing about film, Michael tends the bar at Two Sisters Bar & Books in San Francisco. He teaches mixology in San Francisco and New York. And lately, he’s been trying to capture the magic of what he does in a bottle so he can spread his tasty libations across the land. Please feel free to contact him at with all queries.

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