iPhone App: Cocktails Made Easy

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While I’m on my iPhone kick, I have one more cocktail app that deserves a featured mention, Cocktails Made Easy. It has nestled in my iPhone beside Flip ‘N Drink and 101 Cocktails. Together they make up the three essential cocktail apps for me. Each app performs a slightly different function, and each is the top of the field in their respective specialty. Flip ‘N Drink is the current overall best large drink database. (My review of it is here.) And 101 Cocktails is a very useful swift access to recipes for the most select group of drinks that there are to be made. (My review of it is here.) Flip ‘N Drink will give you a recipe for most drinks worth making. 101 Cocktails will give you a recipe for the drinks most worth making. Cocktails Made Easy will give you recipes for drinks you can make… right now. (My review of it is what you are reading.) Each of these apps has its own set of features, including the killer one that defines it as best in its bunch. I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you about my about-to-end contest asking readers for the best currently unavailable feature they’d like to see in an iPhone cocktail app. Click over and put in your two cents!
The function which defines Cocktails made easy is located on the following page within the app, the Cabinet:
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This little picture of an idealized bar shelf (my three cabinets are a bit more crowded, for instance) shows 14 important spirits, as well as a somewhat out of place button for non-alcoholic drinks. It’s function is somewhat different from the others. The idea is to highlight each ingredient that your bar currently sports. The app then filters the main database, which currently sports 530 cocktails, into a second data set (My Bar) which shows only those drinks you could make with the spirits you have on hand. It’s simple, elegant, and attractive.
The app has some limitations, like all do, but it is very good at what it does.
The 530 drinks in the database are a good sampling, but like any compromise on size it will be big enough to make going slow for some, and will omit drinks important to others. For instance, there is no Pegu in this app!

Wow! No Pegu, and you
still keep it on your phone?

It’s a serious functional limitation, I agree.
The bigger issue with the Cabinet is this: Any cocktailian, especially a serious cocktailian, will have nearly every spirit on the shelf in stock. If you give the app your true inventory, you’ll just have an app with a far smaller database than Flip ‘N Drink. The casual, entry level, or very focused drinker will not have this problem. This is less of a problem than I make out, however. Changing what’s in the Cabinet is easy. Just select only the ingredients that interest you at the time, and you’ll get a manageable, useful list of things to give a go. The non-alcoholic button on the cabinet should only be highlighted by itself, as it does not identify the fact that you have non-alcoholic ingredients available. If you list non-alcoholic in your cabinet, it just adds the 27 virgin cocktails to your custom data set. Some kind of toggle function with this button would be helpful.
What would be more helpful is a second cabinet (fridge?) page detailing the big daddies of non-spiritous ingredients. There is a gorgeous listing of these ingredients already in the app, but they are non-interactive pages in the documentation tab. I hope that this means Fizz, the developer, had this in mind, and just ran out of time or money to get it in the first version. Time will tell. For the serious drink mixer, filtering by whether you have fresh grapefruit juice, or cinnamon syrup, or egg whites on hand would be more valuable than knowing if you have vodka, gin, whiskey, or rum.
The photos in Cocktails Made Easy are gorgeous (as seems to be becoming the norm with the better apps), but a little sterile. There must be a vast armada of cocktail photographers out there all of a sudden to be producing so many drink pix.
The rest of the information on each drink’s page is well laid-out and has some neat functionality. There is an email button that lets you send a text version of the recipe. The ingredient list has a checkbox option I use to keep track of which ingredients I’ve added as I go. Anytime you make a drink with several fruits to squeeze, and your child is tapping your hip demanding a Shirley Temple, you run the risk of adding the gin twice and ending the evening early! There is also a comments field with text that is user editable. This, to put it bluntly, rocks.
There are two other quibbles I have with this nifty little app. The search is not a live search, not does the number of drinks in the narrowed list change as you add or remove ingredients from your Cabinet. This slows down use. And cocktails starting with the word The are alphabetized as starting with T. This makes my English Major teeth itch uncontrollably.
All in all, Cocktails Made Easy is a very useful drink app. If you are only going to buy one app, you should consider it. Depending on what you want to do, it may well be your choice. If you are going to buy several to play with, it should definitely be part of your final list.

Update: Welcome Village Voice readers! While you are here, please take a look around at my other offerings, or you can check out my other iPhone cocktail posts below.

Here’s a list of the other posts here about Apple iPhone software:
[catlist id=57 orderby=date order=ASC numberposts=-1]


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