Cocktails: Beautifully Designed Mixology Tool

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Prior to prohibition in the United States, gathering together in a party atmosphere, collecting fine quality ingredients, and precisely mixing/serving cocktails was a popular pastime.

Much like microbrewing, much of the lore of fine cocktailing was lost during prohibition. After prohibition ended, the large liquor and beer companies lobbied like hell to pass laws to prevent the resurrection of the craft alcohol and microbrew markets.

In the past 15 or so years, we have enjoyed a huge resurgence of craft brewing. Similarly, about the last decade has seen a growing interest in the art of fine cocktail mixology.

While this has included the rise of some very fine drinking establishments focused on classic cocktails, the hobbyist mixology market is growing rapidly, too.

If you are going to get into Mixology, you need a good recipe guide. Many paper guides exist, the best (that I know of) being Cunningham’s Bartender’s Black Book.

However, you can’t easily search a book by ingredient or flavor. You can’t be standing in a liquor store and think “I have bourbon, what do I need to make a couple of fine cocktails”. Nor can you experience a minor quake while in the liquor store and immediately look up quake related cocktails.

For that, you need an electronic guide and, with the advent of the iPhone application store, wouldn’t it be nice if such a guide were to be available in a device that you are likely already carrying anyway?

Enter Skorpiostech’s Cocktails.

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With over 1,400 cocktail recipes, Cocktails contains a fairly comprehensive list of classic and modern cocktails.

Drinks are indexed by ingredients, flavors, base ingredient, and several other categories.

It is easy to search for a particular ingredient, making it possible to get an idea of the set of drinks you might be able to make given what you have on hand.

As well, you can easily share drinks via email or twitterrific.

All in all, the app is a very solid offering for 1.0. There are some obvious areas for refinement or expansion and I’m looking forward to watching this app evolve.

However, that isn’t the reason why I’m reviewing this otherwise very useful application.

Specifically, I’m calling it out because of the design value.

Cocktails is simply a beautiful app to look at and use. While the list of cocktails is relatively normal looking, the glass icon being the graphical element standout, it is really the recipe page — seen to the right — that shows an incredible attention to detail.

The typography is precise and crisp, with appropriate bits of unicode characters used when necessary.

Also, the background changes color depending on the age of the drink. For example, the Manhattan cocktail dates back to 1888, yet there are many modern versions, too. If you were to flick that recipe to the left, the backgrounds of the recipe would become lighter as the age of the recipe lessens.

A minor detail, sure, but it actually contributes considerably to the usability when simply browsing for a recipe!



16 Responses to “Cocktails: Beautifully Designed Mixology Tool”

  1. DadGuy says:

    Interesting app.

    I agree on the UI design. Very impressive. Clean, usable, keeps out of your way while still being informative. Nice find.

  2. Steve Kirks says:

    Purchased! You know, I’ve spent more money on apps through iTunes than I have music and I’d even say more than through traditional websites. I think nothing of spending $10 on an app like Cocktails because I’ll have instant access to something valuable for the rest of the phone’s life.

  3. S. Ben Melhuish says:

    Sold.

    As a minor quibble with an otherwise very helpful review, the classic cocktail resurgence has been going on for 12 years or more; dig through the Wayback Machine for http://www.hotwired.com/cocktail/.

    I haven’t read Cunningham’s, but the best reference I know of is the printed form of the above site: Harrington and Moorhead, Cocktail. Alas, it’s out of print, and wasn’t easy to find for less than $100 last I checked.

  4. Tyler says:

    Thanks for the review. I saw this on App Store and didn’t buy it because none of the screenshots showed searching and the description didn’t mention it. I specifically wanted an app that allowed me to search based on ingredients on-hand. Thanks to your review and the links to the developer’s website, I learned this app does indeed support searching, and therefore I just bought it. (The developer might want to consider updating their product description.)

  5. David S says:

    thanks for reviewing this! i’ve been looking for a good mobile drink program even back when i was using a Palm PDA…and never found one i liked (the searches were useless). i’m buying this one right now!

  6. Ian Baird says:

    @Tyler:

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I updated the app’s description in the App Store.

  7. Lemont Washington says:

    The authors are buddies of mine and when they previewed the app to me i knew it would be an absolute hit. I’m somewhat of a novice drinker and having quick access to all these great recipes is worth way more than the 10$ price of admission.

  8. Jean-Denis Muys says:

    Does it also use Strandard units for us European guys with the metric system, insteads of these UFO units such as “oz”?

  9. Michael says:

    @Jean-Denis – yes it does, you can get measurements in oz, gills, or centilitres: http://cocktails.cocktaildb.com/demo

  10. Jessica says:

    I’m an alcoholic. It’s been a few years since my last drink, but after getting this app, I’m stocking up on vermouth, wine and vodka. Nothing beats a really good, complete bar. I look forward to falling of the wagon; I’m worth a little binge every now and then. A few drinks never hurt anybody.

  11. News » Cocktails 1.0 says:

    […] designed $10 iPhone App from Skorpiostech: a searchable cocktail recipe database. Check out Bill Bumgarner’s review. I love the way that the older the recipe is, the older the “paper” looks. […]

  12. Michal says:

    I just bought it and it’s great.

    The only problem I have with it after a quick browse is that the search function doesn’t seem very practical. Only 2 recipes are fully visible in the tiny area between the search field at the top and the keyboard at the bottom.
    A possible solution may be to leave the filtering active after you select “done” and the keyboard slips away. The user could then click on the little cross to clear the search field and the filtering.

    Sorry for having trouble getting my idea across.

  13. Prophet King Governance Press » links for 2008-07-18 says:

    […] bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Cocktails: Beautifully Designed Mixology Tool (tags: alcohol book recipes iphone) […]

  14. ilyagram » Blog Archive » 在 iPhone 上享受調酒樂趣 says:

    […] bbum’s weblog-o-mat 有一篇很不錯的評論 Cocktails: Beautifully Designed Mixology Tool,把這個設計的幾個面向刻劃了出來,讓人了解背後的興味盎然。例如:美國禁酒年代對於飲酒文化的打壓、禁酒年代過後大型酒公司遊說通過阻止自己釀酒、調酒的法律(pass laws to prevent the resurrection of the craft alcohol and microbrew markets),一直到最近 10 多年調酒文化才得以復興,這是歷史面向的故事;在實際認識調酒文化上,調酒食譜(cocktails recipe)是不可或缺的一環,傳統上以 Cunningham’s Bartender’s Black Book 《康寧漢調酒者黑皮書》(現在已經是第 8 版了)為經典必讀聖經;但是抱著一本聖經,仍然在很多實作的時刻中有許多沒有辦法做到的事情。 […]

  15. Liquor and Drink says:

    That is pretty cool. I started developing a mobile version of my site to use on phone browsers, but it is really hard to detect if the client browser is a phone browser. They impersonate normal browsers a lot. I didn’t want to do a separate mobile link, but now I may. This one is cool though since you don’t need to be connected to the Internet for it to work. Kudos to the developer. I don’t have an iPhone unfortunately–maybe he’ll make a version for the Instinct.

  16. Kim says:

    OK, I am a mom of twins, but yes Iike a good cocktail. I’m glad I stumbled upon this because I’d rather have these recipes available on my iphone – how cool is that! Thanks for the review!

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