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Make fantastic cocktails: The 10 best bartending apps to fuel your inner mixologist

Want to improve your bartending? Count on one of these apps to do just that

Making a cocktail
Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

The best bartenders at the best bars in the land make drinks so good you could plan a vacation around them. But sometimes you want to fabricate a good cocktail at home, whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or just looking for a quick, easy, and tasty gin and tonic.

While there’s no harm in setting yourself up with all the proper context — from the best cocktail books to a bona fide home bar setup — oftentimes a simple app will do. A quick download can set you up for better bartending at home, whether it’s fine-tuning your technique or finally conquering that dreaded tiki cocktail recipe.

Cocktail and bartending apps offer real-time instruction and instant accessibility. Even the pros turn to these apps, using them as indispensable tools to create and share new recipes with other bartenders and learn new techniques to take their craft to the next level. Being able to make your favorite cocktails at home will never be a bad skill to have. 

Whether you’re a newbie looking to shake things up a bit by turning your kitchen into your own personal bar or a pro mixologist eager to find new craft cocktail recipes or up your mixing game with new techniques, these are the best bartending apps for the job. 

Cocktail Flow app
Cocktail Flow

Best for at home/beginners

Cocktail Flow

Arguably the quintessential cocktail app, Cocktail Flow’s continually updated selection of hundreds of cocktails, sleek design, attractive interface, and easy step-by-step guides make it the perfect starting point for beginners. You can search for different recipes by name or base spirit and use the “Around the World” collections to find popular cocktails from different countries. 

You can also upload and save your own tasting notes and recipes and use the “My Bar” feature to tell the app what kind of ingredients you have on hand. It will recommend a cocktail based on what you have at home. With endless options, it’s a delight to discover so many different kinds of cocktails you can make on your own. Cocktail Flow is available for free on Apple and Android devices. 

Perfect Drink app
Perfect Drink

Perfect Drink

One of the most important aspects of making good cocktails is getting the ratios and amounts of ingredients just right, and it can be hard to get the hang of it at first. Perfect Drink is the first app of its kind, offering interactive instructions in real time on how to mix your drink.

The app itself is free and available for Apple and Android, but you do need to purchase an accompanying scale that connects to your phone. Placing your glass on the scale and selecting a recipe, the app shows you how much of each ingredient to pour and in what order, how to mix or stir, and even what to do if you over-pour by adjusting the recipe for you. Extremely user-friendly, it’ll help you gain confidence in your mixing skills, with over 400 in-app cocktail recipes to try. 

Distiller app
Distiller

Distiller

If you’re new to the world of cocktails, bartending, and liquor, you may feel a little lost going to the liquor store. What is the best kind of whiskey? Would this mezcal work for the cocktail I have in mind? Is this a popular brand of gin? With its thousands of reviews from fellow users, bartenders, and beverage industry pros, Distiller will help you pick the perfect bottle for whatever kind of cocktail you’re looking to make.

Simply look up the type of spirit or brand name you’re looking for, and you’ll find reviews, ratings, tasting notes, flavor profiles, info about the product itself like ingredients and distillation procedure, and sellers. And as you find bottles you do or don’t like, you can also leave your own reviews and tasting notes to help others in the future. It’s free on Android and Apple, but you do have to create a profile. 

Highball app
Highball

Best for pros

Highball

As a bona fide mixologist, you’ve graduated from mixing staple cocktails to crafting your own unique creations, which you can now share with fellow bartenders and the world on Highball, available for free on Apple’s App Store. Organized into stylish virtual recipe “cards,” you can upload your own cocktail recipes — complete with ingredients, measures, and technique notes — and once it’s saved on the app’s platform, others can also add edits and suggestions. You can also store favorite recipes to come back to. 

Modern Classics app
Modern Classics

Modern Classics

Any app can show you how to make an old-fashioned or dry martini. What about a barrel-aged Negroni by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, or a Paper Plane? 99 of these “modern classic” cocktails are compiled here in this $10 iPhone app created by legendary cocktail and drinks writer Robert Simonson.

To determine what essential contemporary cocktails made the cut, Simonson evaluated them based on three criteria: they must be widely known outside of their home bar, they had to be venerated by the bartending community, and they had to be available on cocktail menus far and wide. For bartenders looking to master all the true classics of the modern craft cocktail movement, this is a must-buy. 

Screenshots from the PDT cocktail app.
PDT

For both

PDT

The official app from one of the best bars in NYC, if not the nation, PDT is fun to use and houses hundreds of quality and tested recipes. It’s a great place to find an inventive new cocktail, riff on a classic, or mess around with a lesser-known liqueur or spirit (shochu, anyone?).

The app functions a bit like a digital bar, allowing you to take and keep stock of what you have and even pack it along the next time you’re at the bottle shop or liquor store and need to be reminded of what’s missing or what complementary ingredients you might need. It’s like your very own highly trained bar back, only digital.

Screenshots from the Total Tiki app from Beachbum Berry.
Total Tiki

Beachbum Berry

Tiki is tough but a lot less so with this helpful app. This is a sequel to an already great app, adding many more recipes and giving the user a real taste of the rich history surrounding tiki culture. A complex category, the app makes things approachable and even allows you to mix up great tiki drinks with minimal ingredients at home (no, you don’t have to have six kinds of orgeat).

Even the layout and feel of the app are breezy and fun, just like a great Mai Tai. It’s what you’d expect from one of the leading names in the trade and takes just about all of the intimidation away from making some of these age-old, tropical hotel-born drinks.

Screenshots from the Make Me A Cocktail app.
Make Me A Cocktail

Make Me A Cocktail

Boasting more than 3,500 recipes, Make Me A Cocktail could be a place where a wannabe mixologist goes to get lost. Instead, the interface is fairly intuitive and the search functions are strong, allowing you to get just the drink you want, without having to wade through too much else.

The ads can be annoying, but the app makes up for that by being fairly sophisticated in its concoctions. Like the MacGyver of the bartending app realm, it can put something delicious together even out of your cabinet dregs.

8,500 Drinks app
8,500 Drinks

8,500+ Drinks

Available for free on Android and Apple, this handy app is a great go-to cocktail recipe guide, whether you’re an at-home bartender looking to try something new or you’re a pro working behind the bar and just received an order for a cocktail you’ve never heard of.

As the name says, this app has recipes for more than 8,500 cocktails. You can search by name, ingredients, or category of drink, and, if you want a surprise, simply press the “Random” option, shake your phone, and the app will give you a random drink selection to make. 

Bartender's Choice app
Bartender's Choice

Bartender’s Choice

It’s a scenario with which the seasoned bartender is all too familiar. A customer sits down at the bar and doesn’t know what they’re in the mood for. The bartender asks questions to help narrow it down: What’s your favorite kind of liquor, what flavors do you like, what style of cocktail do you prefer? From those answers, the bartender can then make the customer a cocktail tailored to their tastes.

After years of experience with this exact scene at bars like Attaboy and Milk & Honey, renowned bartender Sam Ross created Bartender’s Choice. The app asks you questions about alcohol, sensations, style, and extras, and then recommends the perfect drink; you can also ask the app to surprise you and it will recommend five random recipes. Available on iPhone and Android for $4.99, this is a great app both for bartenders looking for fresh ideas for indecisive customers and for at-home bartenders unsure about what they want to make.

An Old Fashioned whiskey cocktail at a bar.
Steven Miller / Flickr

What are the top cocktails in most bartending apps?

We know there are hundreds of drinks out there you can make, but let’s start with the most known. According to the popular bartending apps, the following are the top 10 cocktails for 2023 that you’ll find in most of these apps.

  1. Old Fashioned: A well-known classic made with whiskey, sugar, bitters, and water.
  2. Negroni: Made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
  3. Manhattan: A whiskey cocktail made with sweet vermouth, bitters, and a cherry garnish.
  4. Daiquiri: A summer favorite, this refreshing drink is made with rum, lime juice, and sugar.
  5. Margarita: A classic south-of-the-border cocktail that makes its way up north on the regular, it’s a mix of tequila with lime juice, orange liqueur, and a salt rim.
  6. Moscow mule: A vodka drink made with ginger beer and lime juice and served in a copper mug.
  7. Aperol spritz: This popular Italian cocktail comes together with Aperol, prosecco, and soda water.
  8. Mojito: A refreshing rum cocktail made with mint, lime juice, sugar, and soda water.
  9. Gin and tonic: A simple drink made with gin, tonic water, and a lime garnish.
  10. Whiskey sour: This whiskey cocktail comes together with lemon juice, and sugar.

Ready to make a better cocktail? Get your phone out and try one of the above apps. You likely won’t outdo your favorite professional bartender, but you’ll have fun trying.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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