The Gluten Free Bartender app. Perhaps not a bad iPhone app idea for the Celiac’s sufferers out there.
The Booze World equivalent of the internet’s Rule 34*: If a thing exists, there is a bottle opener version of it.
I haven’t done an iPhone app review in a while, but this one is just made for Tiki Month. Tiki+: Exotic Drinks & Tiki Cocktails is a drink reference app that provides a collection of the best classic Tiki drinks from the Trader, the Beachcomber, and others. A product of teamwork between Beachbum Berry and Scorpiostech, Tiki+ is based on the same engine as Cocktails+, with a few modifications.
First, where Cocktails+ is a general reference, Tiki+ is not only genre-specific, but it is also curated more rigorously in the quality of the recipes therein. Cocktails+ avoids the real clunkers you find cluttering the 6,000 recipe apps, but it is still more variable in how good the drinks it offers are. TIki+ has only 150 recipes, with some notably bad drinks like the Pina Colada (tropical, but not TIki) conspicuous in their absence.
Tiki+ offers most of the features that have become de riguer in cocktail apps, and does them well. The browse drink screen has lots of useful information, with the drink name, most ingredients, and an icon which tells you in what manner it is served (frapped, shaken, rocks, hot etc.)
The individual recipe pages are well designed as well, with all basic info on a single, scrollable page. The tiki-themed backgrounds are fun and somehow manage to not make the pages unreadable. Each ingredient is hyper-linked to an informative page describing it. The source is given for each drink, as well as any relevant historical or conversational information. Finally, there is a small but lovely picture of the drink itself at the bottom of the page. The controls at the bottom are very limited, just the essential Favorites button, and a sharing button by which you can Tweet, Facebook, or email your find to the world.
There is also a host of good, concise information on the app, from Tiki history, to technique, to links to some good web locations to further your Tiki journey.
There are a few nigglling faults I find with in TIki+. You cannot page through the recipes without returning to the browse page. I’d like full-screen versions of the drink pictures. While browsing by base ingredient is nice, rum is so pervasive a spirit in Tiki drinks that 120 out of 150 drinks show on that page. To be more helpful, it should be broken down further by type of rum. Finally, while the apps page on iTunes shows a recipe with metric and one with imperial measures, the app itself has only imperial. (The Zombie recipe shown above is in ounces on my phone) I’m guessing this is localized by the country of your app store.
If there is a preferences panel in the app that lets you change measures, I haven’t found it. And it should be there. (In the very first comment, Subfuture schools me. The preferences panel is in the global setting app, rather than inside Tiki+ itself. You can set your phone to give you recipes in ounces, cl, ml, or gills) The biggest problem with the app is that the developer, Ian Baird, has gotten a job with some rinky-dink outfit called Pear, or Mango, or Apple or something…. Any further updates or development (as with Cocktails+) will thus have to wait for a new developer. Fortunately, from my experience, the app is rock-solid as is, so don’t worry much about buying orphan-ware. Finally, $3.99 is on the high-end of cocktail apps pricing (equaling the superlative Flip ‘n Drink). But when people are shelling out two bucks for 50 Ultimate Lesbian Cocktails, it doesn’t really sound that bad.
I rate Tiki+ a solid buy, especially during Tiki Month, so pick it up and let it help you follow me through the tropical warmth of February!
A little while ago, I got my first ever direct communication from one of the bigger brands in booze, Absolut. They have entered into the crowded field of iPhone drink apps with a very clever app called Drinkspiration, the
first branded cocktail app on the market.
Drinkspiration is first off a cocktail reference app, like many I have reviewed here. It also has a variety of very cool and/or interesting subfeatures for choosing and oganizing the drinks that make it pretty unique to the market. It even has a variety of features to satisfy the social media addict in you.
First, I want to address the interface of Drinkspiration, which is arrestingly beautiful and unlike any other drink app I’ve personally run across. The main metaphor is a fan or wheel of cards, which you flick through to browse. The graphics are, as I said, lovely and interesting, and the interface, once it loads, is extremely smooth. (This app is slow to load, at least on my 3G iPhone.)
There are 19 main
cards in the app. I’ll discuss a few in detail below, but they run the gamut from the ordinary, to the innovative, to the silly but fun. Each main card, when touched, will return another deck of cards, numbering from about four to eight, each detailing a specific drink (or class of drinks, which lead to a deeper set of cards). As you wheel around the deck, you may touch the card to get a detailed recipe, or if you decide drink one, you may touch the
I’ll Have One button. (More on this social media feature in a moment.)
There are lots of top level ways to organize drinks, from classic cocktails, and Surprise Me (neither of which is groundbreaking), to drinks by spirit, color, or flavor (sweet, sour, bitter, fruity, etc.). There are also selections of drinks organized by some other segments. You can choose the
vibe of the bar you are in, and get some suggestions. Or you can hold your iPhone up in the air and let is measure how loud it is where you are, and suggest drinks appropriate to that volume!
There are drinks that are quick to make, drinks that are non-alcoholic, drinks for your weather (if this were automatic it would be awesome, but you have to select the weather yourself), and drinks that are popular right this minute (social media again).
The database of available drinks is pretty extensive. but it does not include the Pegu, so I have to ding it for that. Write Absolut, and probably your MP or congressman, to complain… now! The drinks are more tailored for a younger, less cocktailsnob-like crowd, but there are still plenty of cocktailian favs, like the Aviation.
There is a card that suggests drinks based on your GPS location, but this feature disappoints me a bit. If you not in one of a few
major cities (New York, London, Stockholm, etc.) the app will use the nearest one, up to a point. Beyond that range, you get a drink for the entire nation you are in. Those of us in Flyover Country in the US tend to get a little irritated when city folk assume we have the same culture in Columbus, OH as in Columbus, GA. Or the same in Indianapolis as in Waco. Hopefully, they’ll bust out their anthropological big boy pants and delve into middle America soon! And I’m guessing the same goes for central France, etc. as well. I didn’t ask about other large nations.
There are also, of course, drinks by your favorite flavor of Absolut Vodka as well. But I was very pleasantly surprised at how ecumenical this app is. I expected it to be all about the vodka, but for the most part it plays a very level field with the cocktails it recommends.
Now, the other fascinating element of this app is its social media element. You can choose to sign up for an account with Absolut, which will transmit to them every time you hit that
I’ll Have One button. If you go to the website, or hit the WORLD button on the iPhone app, you can see a live list of what drinks people are hitting that button for, worldwide. You can also set up your phone to automatically post to your FaceBook or Twitter accounts as well. I personally can’t imagine doing this, but I’m betting for a big portion of the populace, this is just the cat’s ass. Watching the live list is kind neat though.
A final feature in this app is a set of widgets that you can put on your blog or website, which updates your own drinking activities. I’ve embedded all three below. I’ll bury them beneath the fold, since they can take a bit to load. If you want to play with them in your own sidebar, I’d advise only using one.
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:
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:
- iPhone App From CocktailDB: Cocktails
- iPhone Cocktail Directories
- iPhone App: Pocket Cocktails
- Pocket Cocktails Update
- iPhone Software Review: Are You Smarter Than a Bartender?
- iPhone App From Cocktail Dreams: Cocktails App
- iPhone App: 101 Cocktails
- iPhone Cocktail Apps Contest!
- iPhone App: Flip ‘N Drink
- iPhone App: Cocktails Made Easy
- iPhone Cocktail App: Cocktails+ is Free!
- The Corporate World Starts Getting In On iPhone Drink Apps
- iPhone App Review: Tiki+
- Alcohol and FaceBook Don’t Mix, Without This Emulsifier…
- TabbedOut: A Marvelous App
- Update: Beachbum Berry’s Tiki+
- SideBlog: The Booze World Equivalent of Rule 34