July 13th, 2010

App dance

cocktails-app-detailWhen it comes to iPhone apps, I’m a minimalist. Until a friend suggested recently that I write about cocktail apps, I only had one on my phone: Cocktails+. It was developed in part by Ted Haigh and Martin Doudoroff, the team behind the cocktail website I frequent most: the Internet Cocktail Database, or CocktailDB.com. I like the Cocktails+ app. It’s heavy on historic drinks, it includes the source(s) for each recipe, and it’s attractive and easy to read. Honestly, though, I have only used it a handful of times. That’s because my actual favorite cocktail app is a talented bartender. I mean, who needs to consult a mobile device when you have a person in front of you who can help you choose a great drink and tell you the story behind it?

Oh right. We’re not always in bars with talented bartenders, and we’re not always in bars, period. And we don’t carry our cocktail-book libraries around with us. So I figured I’d do a little research for the team to see which cocktail apps are worthwhile for us discerning drinkers. It took me about five minutes to figure out that most of the stuff listed in the iTunes app store was unworthy (to put it kindly), unless drinkboston readers secretly yearn to possess 7,000 recipes for flavored-vodka shooters. It took me about another 30 minutes on the Google, the Facebook and the Twitter to tease out which apps the drinkerati have approved. Here are the fruits of my hard labor.

Cocktails+ $2.99. “The authoritative cocktail reference for the iPhone.” The 2,000+ recipes include mostly classics, but there are many contemporary recipes by Jamie Boudreau, Dale DeGroff and Goncalo Monteiro. Cool feature: share recipes not only via email (which most of these apps do) but also Facebook and Twitter.

Flip n’ Drink $3.99. Authors Gary and Mardee Regan, the folks behind Ardent Spirits, selected and tested the hundreds of recipes on this attractive app, and they are continually adding more from an impressive list of contributors. Cool features: cocktail recommendations based on your current selection, and “cocktail conversations” — fun facts related to each recipe. Beware: the app’s over 20MB, so I got a message saying I had to download it via a computer rather than wirelessly.

Cocktails Made Easy $2.99. Based on a solid concept: 500 recipes that you can make with just 14 different spirits (plus mixers). The recipes are from diffordsguide.com by British drinks industry guru Simon Difford. Cool feature: click on the bottles of liquor you currently have in your inventory, and get a list of the drinks you can make.

101 Cocktails $1.99. “Do I really need 14,000 cocktail recipes?” asks L.A. blogger Jimmy Patrick (Jimmy’s Cocktail Hour), who developed this blessedly streamlined app. For those times when you just want the basics, this is perfect.

Tiki+ $3.99. More than 150 authentic tiki recipes culled from Beachbum Berry’s books. Illustrated with vintage drink photos and art, the app lets you share recipes via Facebook and Twitter. NOTE: Tiki+ is currently being upgraded for iPad compatibility, but it will be back on sale soon.

Please comment if there’s a great cocktail app out there that I missed — and also if you have a go-to beer or wine app. Meanwhile, I need an app with real-time info on the best bars and up-to-date schedules of my favorite bartenders.

Permalink | Filed under Books & resources, Cocktails | Tags: ,

11 Responses to “App dance”

  1. Todd

    Call me “old school”, I’ll take the cocktail books everytime. There’s something about looking something up that I enjoy.

  2. Sean

    What about poor droid users!?
    I like a book too, but I hate bringing some of the old ones into a working bar. Bad things have happened. This is a helpful way to get some of the info without ruining the collection.


  3. matt

    Agreed, I’d love to have any of these available for Android phones. All I’ve seen are definitely of the 13,001 Awesomest Shots, Broham variety.

  4. ljclark

    Todd, “old school” is your middle name. Sean and matt — I know nothing about droid apps, unfortunately. I’ll ask around.

  5. William Murray

    I helped a friend at Boston-based Skyhook Wireless with an app called iSwig. They’re a location-based services company, so the emphasis is more on *where* you’re having a drink than on *what* you’re drinking, but I’d love to see them work with one of the apps you’ve featured. That would help them flesh out their drink database and allow you to track not only what new drink you might have tried, but where you tried it (in case you can’t remember either after enjoying a few too many!).

  6. Ronda Billings Morra

    To follow-up on what Will said, iSwig is a free app that works like a traveling drink journal. We (Skyhook) created iSwig to demonstrate our free Local Faves geo-social framework that can be dropped into any iPhone app to add social features like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr integration, along with checkins from Foursquare (so you can “check-in” to the bar where you are drinking via the cocktail, beer or wine you are drinking), cool map views including heat maps, global leaderboards so you can see the most popular drinks nearby and push notifications so you can “follow” your friends and know what/where they are drinking. Our next release will feature an expanded drink list and a much more comprehensive beelists, based on user feedback. So download iSwig and let us know what you think. Drink app developers: download the Local Faves SDK to add these geo-social features to your apps in three simple lines of code: http://www.skyhookwireless.com/localfaves

  7. ljclark

    William and Ronda, agreed. iSwig is a cool app with potential (but kind of a cheesy name). If/when it has features that serious cocktail drinkers appreciate, like a way to customize the drinks list, it will be great. Good luck.

  8. James

    I can’t find Cocktails+ in the App store. Is it still there or changed names?
    The linked website no longer exists either. I’ve been looking for a classic cocktail app!

  9. ljclark

    Uh oh, James. I just tried to find it myself, with no luck. No idea what’s going on. Will investigate.

  10. Randy

    Cocktails+ might’ve been pulled if they’re working on an updated version. Tiki+ has been that way for a while, I presume while a new version is readied that accounts for Jeff’s new book.

  11. James

    Randy.. That makes sense. I hope it returns soon.

    I guess I will just have to keep searching once a week until it pops back up. Or buy some books, but that would be a pain to carry with me.

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