This article was published in Bartender Magazine, September 2010
By David Spanton
There are two kinds of people in this world; those with iPhones and those without. I was completely unaware of this global division until I was forced to part with my old Nokia about six months ago. Thanks to the exuberance of my two-year-old, this phone was being held together by sticky tape with several of the digits missing. After many looks of shock from friends and clients I knew it was time to get a new phone. And I’ll admit; the phone on my mind was the iPhone. Though I had seen but a little of its power – I wasn’t immune to the pull of the iPod, iPad, iTunes, and i-anything. I was a convert and I hadn’t even walked into the store. I didn’t want an iPhone – I needed an iPhone!
And after a few wonderful months with my iPhone I can say without hesitation that the hype around these phones is justified. They are just so damn sexy and for a guy who is normally considered technologically challenged this little device has been so easy to use. My wife, on the other hand, hasn’t been so impressed with the amount of time I now spend playing with ‘my precious’! I just assure her it’s all work related; meanwhile I line up a putt for a birdie on Tiger Woods PGA tour App.
“For a guy who is normally considered technologically challenged this little device has been so easy to use.”
One of the big reasons that Apple has been so amazingly successful comes down to the world of Apps that they have created. This is the true genius. You can download an App on just about anything from Jamie Oliver’s latest cooking recipes ($5) to a free mosquito repellent App (which emits a high pitch frequency that sends them crazy).
There have also been many people busy building Apps that cater to the world of cocktails and bars. Some of these are free and some charge a small price although I haven’t seen any over $15. I’ve pored over the Apps for many hours and I think an old saying rings true; you get what you pay for! The free ones are generally very poor quality with poor usability. However, there are loads of free Apps by the big drinks brands like Bacardi, Campari and Midori which are all pushing their own signature brands and cocktails and these are definitely worth a look. It also seems like there are new Apps online every week put together by all manner of cocktail geeks so downloading them all can be a costly venture.
Hopefully my shortlist of reviewed Apps can help you find a few good ones and avoid a few of the lemons too!
Sub-Head: App: Cocktails+
Summary: Clean layout with a cool section dedicated to a few master bartenders including some of Dale DeGroff’s signature drinks. It also credits most drinks to either the book it was taken from or the bartender who can lay claim to it. Unfortunately, like most of the cocktail and bar related Apps it doesn’t include any images of the drinks.
Sub-Head: App: Bartender
Summary: Great layout and easy to use. Includes handy tools like a ‘unit converter’ along with bartender info on stocking your bar to types of garnishes. A handy ‘bar locator’ shows you a bunch of bars located around where you are or your area of interest – very cool. Watch out – the App called Drink & Cocktail Pro is exactly the same as I found out after buying both!
Sub-Head: App: Mixologist
Summary: Easy to use but still no actual cocktail images. If you can’t decide on a drink it has a novelty random cocktail finder that plays like a slot machine. You can find what liquor stores are near your location which is handy plus helpful bartending tips from glassware to how to stock your bar.
Sub-Head: App: Drinks Free
Summary: Extremely basic and includes annoying banner ads for stuff like ‘Christian Communion Supplies’. Delete it immediately!
Sub-Head: App: FlipNDrink
Summary: This little gem has been developed by international drinks legend Mr Gary Regan. It’s the first of the Apps that I have found with actual colour photography for most cocktails. The layout is clean and very easy to use. A great addition to each cocktail is Gary’s ‘cocktailian conversations’ in which he offers up some interesting history on the cocktail or helpful tips for making the drink in question. This is by far the stand-out cocktail App I have found and it has no cheesy elements to it that so many of them seem to have.
Sub-Head: App: PocketCocktails
Summary: Standing head and shoulders above most other Apps, this one also includes colour photography of the drinks. The homepage is the best of all the Apps for its usability and I also found its ‘tips and tricks’ section a standout with its text and photography for educating punters on everything from layering a drink to how to muddle. Has a novel shake the phone element that sounds like you’re using a shaker plus a basic wine and beer section that helps with food and drink matching.
Sub-Head: App: Sydney Bars
Summary: I really like this easy to use app as its straight to the point for each bar. A list of symbols for each venue gives you the basics from how expensive it is to if they have food and music. It also informs you how far away it is from your current location. The use of a good quality images for each listing again makes it great to use. The only problem is that at this stage it’s only available in Sydney.
Sub-Head: App: Drink (Melbourne)
Summary: This app is a complete adaption of the successful Bar Secrets that you can find in most good newsagents and book stores. This easy to use paper product was made to be adapted to an App and it works just the same except the phone will give you directions on how to get there from your current location. Very handy when trying to find most bars in Melbourne! This version is only Melbourne-based at more state cities will follow.
Sub-Head: App: GQBarSpy
Summary: There was a lot of hype about this App before it came out that it was going to be a never seen before synergy of guide and social networking portal. Well, it’s true that it’s both of those things but unfortunately it’s doing neither of them well. It’s also too complicated – trying at every turn to get you to “check in” and tell your friends and post comments to Facebook and Twitter! All I wanted was the bloody phone number of the bar and maybe a little info about it!
Sub-Head: App: Easy Cocktails
Summary: How many fluoro colours can one person take! A very, very basic app with dismal design. It does however have a few hot girls in bikinis sipping the drinks by the pool under their ‘extra’ section…
I’m sure over coming years we are going to see an explosion of quality Apps across all areas and the introduction of the iPad will take these Apps to a new level of detail. Either way the printed cocktail book or magazine might be a thing of the past in the not too distant future if current trends continue. I personally am excited about this new technology and maybe soon you might also see Bartender magazine available each month as an App? Stay connected!