iPhone App: Flip ‘N Drink

Well it’s iPhone-a-palooza week hereabouts, I guess. First, I reviewed Jimmy Patrick’s 101 Cocktails, then I began my contest to discover the next Killer Feature for iPhone cocktail apps. Now I’m going to go over Gary and Mardee Regan’s Flip ‘N Drink. (Web page on Ardent Spirits here)
Flip ‘N Drink is the latest in the starting-to-be-crowded field of general cocktail reference apps for the iPhone. And at $3.99 US (not metric Euros), it’s the second most expensive one I’ve found, after the mighty and venerable Cocktails+. Is it worth it? That of course depends on you, but there a couple of reasons to think it is.
The first question to always ask concerning any reference app, especially as relates to cocktails, is about the database. There are zillions of drinks out there, most of them bad. Lots of bad drinks clutter up the reference and make it hard to use. Flip ‘N Drink’s database is large, but edited with care to cull out the crap. I doubt there is a recipe for the Pink Panty Pulldown in there! (OK, I just checked. Nope. Alas, they did cave and include an Appletini. Don’t they know it’s dead?) There will be plenty of recipes in there that you won’t like. Yeah you, the guy in the suit. And you won’t like a bunch either, lady. But the one’s you guys hate won’t likely be the same. The point is that the stupid drinks are absent, the good drinks have very good recipes for them. It’s a good database.

Pretty assertive there, Reviewer Boy.
Have you read all those recipes, or something?

Or something. Here’s the other thing about the database: Its pedigree. Did I mention it comes from Gary and Mardee Regan? They’ve ensured you get all the classic oeuvre. And they collect tons of originals from some of the world’s best master bartenders, plus Junior Merino!
So the database is both large and good. If you are looking for a full reference app, you’ll likely have a hard time finding a better one.
Like many apps, Flip ‘N Drink has a photograph of each cocktail, and the photography is also top notch. I am continuously amazed at the quality of photography to be found in some iPhone apps that sell for just a couple of bucks. I particularly like these photos though. They are gorgeous, and if you remember this blog’s old look, or you’ve seen my business’s website, you know I’m a sucker for black backgrounds.
The last major consideration for an app like this is the interface. Flip ‘N Drink’s is pretty well thought out and executed. It does have some hiccups that need to be dealt with in the first update, however. The first view, labeled Flip ‘N is just a photo of each drink. You can flick left and right to page through them all in alphabetical order, or tap to flip the picture, revealing the ingredients and instructions, as well as two buttons that I’ll get to below. Flicking through the pics is a gorgeous experience, but in a database this size, it’s not very functional.
The second tab is search, which lets you search by name or ingredients. The search is a live search, which I love. This means that the list of results updates with each key you type, giving a continuously narrowing result. But you have to actively dismiss the text entry box to do anything with the results in some instances. When you do choose a drink, it goes to the flipped page for that drink, with info and feature buttons. This is great, but you can’t then flip the picture back to the plain picture. Nor can you start flicking through the alphabetical database from there! Please fix this, guys! This bug/design flaw does nothing to diminish the usefulness of the app, just the fun of using it and the value from those lovely pictures. It should be an easy fix, so I doubt it will be long off. The next tab is My Bar, which is nothing more than a page listing the cocktails you have marked as favorites. The last tab is Info, which is a simple, concise instructions page that is a very nice feature in and of itself.
The last thing to look at in iPhone apps is the special features it may have. As I mentioned at the top, I’m running a contest this month to see who can suggest the next cool thing to add to a cocktail app in the future. Pay attention, developers!
Flip ‘N Drink has two, cool, special features that are accessed from the flip page of each drink, as I alluded to before. One button sends you to another drink that you might like if you like the drink that’s featured here. This is neat, though I can think of one possible enhancement I won’t mention here yet, to keep someone from using it as a contest entry. The second feature is the really cool one though, and it must have taken forever to compile. It’s found through this button:
Cocktailian Conversations are unique little bits of trivia or history that relate back to the drink, and there is something for each and every drink in the database. Now, that’s fun there, I don’t care who you are. And if you use truthful nuggets that way I do in a bar conversation, you might as well relabel it the “Blarney Button”, or “Cliff Clavin Speaks”.
So that’s Flip ‘N Drink. To come full circle, the $3.99 price tag is just above the line where I suspect most people start to hesitate before buying an iPhone app. There are apps that do the same thing for free. Is Flip ‘N Drink worth it? I think so. The database looks to be, and has reason to be, as good as it gets. The app looks lovely. The interface will be super with just a few, easy updates. (Like how I’m announcing what you’ll be doing for you, guys?) It has cool extra features, one of which is original and awesome. If any app is going to be worth four bucks to you, I suspect this one is it.

Here’s a list of the other posts here about Apple iPhone software:
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