FOOD & WINE Cocktails
Developer: American Express Publishing
Runs on: iPhone
This is the fourth FOOD & WINE magazine app, but the first we’ve reviewed. Other apps from them include Best New Chefs for the iPhone and Wine for Android devices. The Cocktails app is iPhone-exclusive and is sponsored by Belvedere. This is the second sponsored app we’ve reviewed—the first was Let’s Cook with Fabio Viviani and Bertolli Olive Oil, which stuck the sponsor name right in the title. Viviani’s-sponsored app left a good taste in our mouth; let’s hope Cocktails goes down the hatch just as smoothly.
The app includes over 350 drinks, plus drink-friendly food, cocktail tips and a list of the top 100 bars and lounges across the country. The home screen of this app provides six main navigation buttons to help you find what you’re looking for. The first two buttons sort the drinks by either spirit or type. The other buttons navigate to the cocktail tips, food and bars. The final button access your favorites, which can be anything within this app from a particular drink to a piece of glassware found in the glassware guide (within cocktail tips). The bottom of the home screen includes a small navigation menu with a few redundancies plus a button to search.
The aesthetic of this app is gorgeous. Search for a cocktail according to the spirits and you’ll find that each one has been assigned a unique color and badge. These badges are used throughout the app as you flip through the various drink names, images and descriptions. When searching by the type of cocktail, you get three options: Classic, Updated and Creative. When conducting a search you can filter by spirit and then refine the search by type and narrow it to the number of servings. I found this to work very well and extremely easy to use.
When you get to a cocktail recipe, each has a beautiful picture (as you’d expect coming from a big magazine publisher), a list of ingredients and simple instructions. Where appropriate, there are sometimes links to related recipes or tips. I also found that at least one “snack” food was associated with each drink, which mimicked the cocktail recipe page layout, except it didn’t show what drinks the food paired with from the food recipe page. Lastly, you can share the cocktail recipes via Facebook, Twitter, SMS or e-mail. The sharing function links to a recipe on the FOOD & WINE website.
The Cocktail Tips in the app cover barware, glassware, cocktail techniques, spirits lexicon and home bartending tips. Most of these tips are very short blurbs that get to the point and they are organized very well. For example, the glassware and barware sections provide silhouettes of each item to provide a better understanding of what the editors are talking about. Within the spirits lexicon section, I do wish it would allow you to jump around by scrubbing the alphabet along the right-hand side (as you do in your address book). This functionality is available when viewing the drink types and spirits in list mode, but not when browsing the bar snacks. This inconsistency should be an easy fix and something that would improve an already great app. Getting through a big lists of cocktails by scrubbing is something we’ve seen before in Pocket Cocktails + Halloween Recipes.
This is definitely the weakest part if the entire app. The top bars section only includes a very short description, address, sometimes a phone number and link. It would have been nice to get some images of the bars and a little more information. As these are the top locations according to the magazine, I don’t expect Yelp! reviews since these are essentially editor’s picks. It would be nice, however, for a more in-depth rating or review.
Overall, this app is pretty great. There’s a lot of high quality content, beautiful design, smooth navigation, and solid use of the device through the use of the GPS and even the accelerometer (you can shake the phone to search). The sponsorship, as I haven’t mentioned it yet, does not get in your way, either. If sponsors continue to help produce other great apps like this one, I say, “Cheers!”
Toque Rating: 4.5/5