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.
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.
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!