Flip 'N Drink iPhone Cocktail App
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Flip 'N Drink iPhone Cocktail App

I have a nice collection of cocktail recipe books, but my most recent acquisition, found battered and used for a buck (but with dust cover intact), is the 1948 edition of Bartenders Guide by the venerable Trader Vic: 1500 recipes, many of which may now rest abandoned in that big cocktail lounge in the sky. I use books like this as verbal grenadine to add color to my drinks writing, but now I have a brilliant new resource: the Flip 'N Drink app for iPhone.

I was an early adopter of desktop computers (I age myself: 1983) and yet I am constantly and consistently amazed when my query “what next” is answered in so brilliant a fashion. The Flip 'N Drink app lets users look up any one of hundreds of cocktail recipes alphabetically, or flip through illustrated cocktail screens, tapping onto the ones of interest to access ingredients, instructions and background information on the drink. Have two bottles of rum you want to use? Enter the word “rum” and get the full list of rum-based drinks. You can, of course, save your favorites, access recommended related drinks, and otherwise involve yourself with the app (although eventually you may wish to drink something and attend to your guests). And you thought iPhone was just for playing games, shopping, and navigating the streets (an activity one does while sober, I hasten to add). The app is $3.99.

Flip 'N Drink is the brainchild of Gary Regan and Mardee Haidin Regan, authors of The Joy of Mixology and The Bartender's Best Friend. The Regans, who run the excellent information site gazregan.com, have selected and tested these recipes with care (although without inviting me to help). According to Gary, “The technology that our software partner came up with for Flip'N'Drink is just astounding, the pictures are dazzling, the recipes, coming mainly from top bartenders all over the world, are top-o'-the-heap, and you also get some barroom banter (cocktailian conversations) with every single drink.” I stumble at Gary's word coinage, but I give him slack; if you invent cocktails you can invent words as far as I am concerned. The man is effusive about this feature. “That's right—each cocktail comes with its very own bit of completely useless information that you can use to start a conversation with that desirable dude or babe down at the end of the bar.”

That's an interesting take on information that itself is an interesting take, but I have to imagine that any given cocktailian conversation becomes all the more relevant in direct proportion to the amount of the cocktail one actually consumes. I also imagine that Flip'N'Drink will be used not only to enhance interpersonal relations through the efficient creation of cocktails, but that the use of the app itself, given the super graphics, will become a social activity in its own right.

Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr. died in 1984, just a few years into the home computer era; whether or not Trader Vic imagined the power of computing is unknown, but given his ebullient personality, I am certain he would have been an early adopter of this innovative app. The Regans and their software developers will be continually adding to and tweaking this app, which given the breadth of the cocktail universe seems the obvious path. The key to the present mix, as the website attests, is a mixture of “Timeless Cocktail Classics along with 21st Century Award Winners.” With this app in hand, I can finally justify having spent twelve dollars at Williams-Sonoma for that muddler.

Verdict: Technology Marches On

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Cocktails need precise formulas and good guides are always welcome.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

Flip 'N Drink iPhone Cocktail App

The recipe screenshot from the innovative Flip 'N Drink iPhone Cocktail App.

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