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Slingr: The social networking tool for drinkers

May 9, 2012 |  9:47 am

It was like a dream come true. The day was Sunday and my band mates Charlie, Emily and I had retired to the Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake for a beer and burger after a hard day of lying by the pool. When we sat down at a table on the patio we spied a placard for a new mobile app called Slingr that described itself as "a hot new technology that allows your friends to remotely send drinks and food directly to your table through Facebook and Twitter."

What? We could check in to the Red Lion on Facebook via Slingr and request a drink, and our friends could buy it for us on their phones or computers and have it delivered to our table, tip included? Score! We would never work again. We would just go wherever Slingr was, check in and drink up.

Who wouldn't want to buy us a drink?

"If I saw that my buddy Manny in Portland had posted with this, I'd totally buy him a drink," said Charlie, texting our table number to Slingr. Emily and I followed suit.

"It's Sunday!" I wrote as my reason for asking for shots in what suddenly felt like a Kickstarter campaign for my late-afternoon drinking habit. (You can also request a beer, a mixed drink, a martini, food and more.)

Ten minutes later our server, Greta, appeared at our table and put a shot of Patron with lime down in front of Charlie.

"This is from Manny," she said, as we stared at the shot, dumbstruck. Apparently Manny in Portland felt the same way Charlie did. It was a very dudely show of support, and serendipitous, too, since Charlie had just been talking about Manny.

SlingrCharlie happily drank his shot and took a picture of the empty glass to post to Manny's wall.

"Thanks Manny! Down the hatch!" he wrote.

Emily and I stared forlornly at each other. Who would buy us a drink? We each had more than 900 friends on Facebook, surely someone would be bored enough at work to part with their money for this very good cause.

That was when it hit me. "It's Sunday!" wasn't really a great reason for anybody to send me a drink, but if it were my birthday ... now that would be another matter entirely. Or if I had gotten a promotion or was moving away.

Suddenly two men appeared at our table and said that they couldn't help but notice that we were using Slingr. One of them turned out to be one of the guys who invented the system. Again, what were the chances? Would kittens and male models start falling from the sky next?

The man's name was Justin Malvin and he explained that Slingr was brand new. The Red Lion was the third bar to have installed the system. The other two are Michael's Bar & Grill and the Hollywood Way, both in Burbank. On Friday the Pour Haus in downtown L.A. will become the fourth "Slingr Spot," as Malvin refers to them.

I have to hand it to Malvin, Slingr makes great business sense. As a bar you can sell and advertise to people around the world via their obsession with social network interactions.

And it was fun, too. Even the waiting and wondering held a lighthearted sense of suspense. Was a drink going to appear? And from whom? It felt like a virtual fishing game. Cast a link and wait for a bite.

Emily and I never got a drink (?!), but I suspect once Slingr catches on it will develop a sort of back-and-forth rapport, with friends from around the world paying it forward in cocktails and beer. You get my last call and I'll get yours.

Now if only Slingr could deliver a taxi.


Dinner Tonight!: Savory stuffed French toast with bacon and cheese.

Test Kitchen Tips: Preserved lemons.

Chef Ben Ford wins Cochon 555 competition.

--Jessica Gelt

Photos: Top, Charlie Wadhams glows in the aftermath of his Slingr-enabled shot. Bottom, the table placard for Slingr at the Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake. Credit: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times