Monday, 23 September 2013

Digital Drinking: 5 Brilliant & Free Cocktail Apps

Last week, I showed you the coolest iPhone game ever, Cocktail Crazy, and one of its best features was it gave you the recipes for all the cocktails your virtual bartender-self created.

The recipes are pretty, but there's not an extensive list, so I went on the hunt for some better cocktail recipes that might prove more useful (albeit with less fun sound effects) in a variety of situations.

In no particular order:

The Be At One App (both iPhone and Google Play)

Popular London cocktail bar chain Be At One have long been known in the capital for their colourful menu, amusing staff and fun, jukebox atmosphere. Now they're branching out to other areas of the UK (their latest store opening was in Reading!), their App is more and more useful.

One of its best features is the cleverly named Appi Hour - ask a barman for a code, and you can kickstart an hour-long countdown, during which time you can get two drinks for £9.50.

But if you're looking for more home inspiration, the app also lists a range of Be At One's cocktail recipes, with amazing video mixology tutorials that really make things simple. One of the best free video cocktail lessons we've found.

Cocktail Flow (also available on Google Play)

Okay, this one might be my favourite. The list of cocktails doesn't run into the thousands (in fact it probably comes to about 100 at best) but it's the quality and searchability of this app that makes me jumpy-roundy with excitement.

Firstly, the look and feel of this app is fantastic. As well as a search function and an alphabetical list, you can browse cocktails by base drink, by type (classical, topical, shooter, creamy etc) or even by colour (pink themed cocktail night, anyone? YES.)

Here's where it gets really exciting though: the 'bar stock' section lets you input what you've got in your cupboards and it will tell you what you can make. BUT BUT BUT it gets better: it also has a 'shopping' section which tells you which one or two ingredients more you need to make a whole string of other cocktails. For instance, you might not realise that you're just one bottle of Galliano away from a Harvey Wallbanger, or just some cola away from a Long Island Iced Tea.

You can pimp the app even more by purchasing 69p packs of themed cocktails, like Christmas and Valentine's Day.

Absolut Drinkspiration (also on Google Play)

With a database of thousands (including frankly stupid entries like 'a glass of water') it's unlikely you'll struggle to find something for you in this app.

The positives? 
It really is a huge selection, plus there's a brilliant browse function where you input your tastes and the app finds lots of similar suggestions.

The other huge plus point is that you can learn as you go along: there's various lessons ranging from beginner to expert, and relevant tips (such as how to muddle fruit ingredients, and how to tell the difference between a dash and a splash) appear below each cocktail recipe too. There's video guides as well as written info, and you can tick off your progress as you go along.

The 'collections' of recipes are fantastic too - from 'romance' to 'classic', from 'summer' to 'non-alcoholic', they've covered a lot of bases.

The negatives? The ingredient search function isn't as cool as Cocktail Flow's, and because it's made by Absolut there are a LOT of Absolut products in your face, all the time. It's still an app that's well worth having, though.

Drink Pro Lite

The free version of Drink Pro, this app is actually pretty all-encompassing. As well as a huge list of cocktails (we're talking thousands) there's pretty good search functionality (like the others, you can browse by ingredient, A-Z, and category), but it's all the little extras that make this worthwhile:

1. The Unit Converter - so you'll never be confused by how many ml in a cup again
2. The Bartending Tips - from how to stock your bar, to a list of bar equipment with pictures and helpful descriptions, you'll never wonder what a jigger is again.
3. The Bar Locator - okay, so it doesn't list every bar ever, but it can list bars by an impressive list of UK towns and cities PLUS it can find the nearest bar to your current location (I live in a pretty small town, and it found dozens near me.)


Another handy database, with the added function to search by difficulty level (always a plus if you're not sure if you'll cope/have had one too many already) and style - so you can shake up a cocktail based on whatever whim or craving you currently have - something creamy? Something minty? Something herby? You get my point.

What are the drinking apps you can't live without? Tell us in the comments!

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