When bars across the country were forced to close up shop because of the pandemic, we all had to step into the bartender’s shoes. Being able to make quality cocktails at home went from being a party flex to an essential skill, but mastering the art of the shaker and spoon isn’t as easy as it may seem from a front-row seat at a bar. For real-time instruction and instant accessibility, cocktail and bartending phone apps are fantastic resources for learning how to make cocktails, offering everything from new recipes and technique guides to being able to connect with a wider cocktail-loving community, with just a quick click and scroll. And even the pros turn to these apps, using them as an indispensable tool to create and share new recipes with other bartenders and to learn new techniques to take their craft to the next level. Also, once the pandemic wanes and bars and restaurants reopen, 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.
Best For At-Home/Beginners
Arguably the quintessential cocktail app, Cocktail Flow’s continually updated selection of hundreds of cocktails, sleek design and attractive interface, and easy step-by-step guides make it the perfect starting point for beginners. You can search for different recipes either by name or base spirit, use the “Around the World” collections to find popular cocktails from different countries, upload and save your own tasting notes and
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 overpour 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.
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.
Best For Pros
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. 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
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.
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 the recipes for over 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.
It’s a scenario the seasoned bartender is all too familiar with. 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 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.
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