Drinks! full review

“Cocktails are now so numerous,” the journalist H.L. Mencken wrote 60 years ago, “that no bartender, however talented, can remember how to make all of them, or even half of them.” Mencken added, “No man short of a giant could try them all, and nine-tenths of them, I believe, would hardly be worth trying.” This from a man who once hired a mathematician to calculate how many drinks could be mixed from a well-stocked bar. The answer: 17,864,392,788. “We tried 273 at random,” Mencken reported, “and found all of them good.

If anyone had taken Mencken at his word, of course, there wouldn’t be shelves of fat bartending guides and certainly no need for the cocktail database applications now available at the App Store. Two of the four applications available in English are highly useful in their own way. (A fifth app, Cocktails by Swiss-Development, is available only in German so is not reviewed here.) The best of the lot allow users to create and manage a list of favorite drinks, e-mail or text message recipes to friends, and feature about 5,500 recipes between them. But all suffer from flaws that the developers would do well to remedy in future releases.

As it happens, Drinks by iDrinkApp.com has the recipes for the Alabama Fizz and Slammer, as well as about 4,498 more drinks.

Unlike other iPhone apps like Cocktails, Drinks isn’t interested so much in quality as in quantity. Trouble is, Drinks tends to skimp on details and get certain recipes wrong. Singapore Slings always call for club soda. Not all drinks that call for “bitters” use the same kind. A proper Mai Tai should never, ever use grenadine. For practical purposes, there is no difference between a martini and a dry martini. Incredibly, the Drinks recipe for a martini calls for sweet vermouth! (In 1899 maybe.) The errors and omissions dilute what would otherwise be a great resource.

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