Drinkers could soon be using technology to create the "ultimate local", according to pub and leisure giant Whitbread.
The brewery is currently working on systems that could allow customers to change a pub's background music, alter its lighting and even order drinks by e-mail via gaming machines. Indeed, plans are being discussed to link games machines at every Whitbread outlet via ISDN to a central hub.
Although unwilling to say when the technology will be available to customers, Bill Shannon, managing director of Whitbread Inns, insists that it is a realistic vision.
"There is still a great deal of work to do to install such a system in our pubs, restaurants and hotels but, even at this early stage it is easy to recognise the potential impact on customer service," he said. "Our customers really could be ordering drinks from the bar by e-mail in the near future."
Whether the technology could also be used to eject drunks at closing time remains to be seen.