Bartender: Pour Cocktails Like a Pro

I recently tried out Minibar, a great app for discovering new cocktails. I’d been stuck in a cocktail rut, mixing the same drinks over and over again. More than just an app full of cocktail recipes to refresh your taste buds, Minibar also teaches you how to make the drinks, all about the tools of a good bar and how to keep your own minibar stocked.

I can learn all of that with a good web search, though. Does Minibar have enough beyond a few good cocktail recipes to make it worth a slot on my homescreen?

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Mix It Up

There are lots of different ways to put Minibar to use, whether you know what you want to drink or are looking for ideas. Tap Cocktails to get a list of all 116 cocktails in Minibar’s recipe book, or tap the button in the upper left to sort the cocktails out by type. Browse through punches, hot drinks, martinis and a bunch more. If you’re not sure what kind of drink your want or what in the world an apértif is, tap What I Can Make. Search for ingredients you have lying around for ideas, and the recipe list will tell you what you need to complete the drink.

Search for your favorite cocktail or find something you can make with what you already have.

Search for your favorite cocktail or find something you can make with what you already have.

Tap over to ingredients to search for specific liquors and mixers, not to mention garnishes and all sorts of other drink ingredients. You can search through all of them, browse the ingredients alphabetically, or sort them by type by tapping the icon in the top left. This is also where you’ll find you inventory list. As you find ingredients you already have in your stores, tap the plus sign next to them to add them to your inventory. Not only will this help populate your What I Can Make list, but it’ll be a big help next time you’re at the store and aren’t sure if you have a bottle of grenadine at home or not.

Find lots of new drinks to try using only a few ingredients.

Find lots of new drinks to try using only a few ingredients.

If you want to make those fancy drinks you see fancy people drinking but just have no idea where to start, drop into Inspiration. This is a great place to look if you want to drink like Don Draper — I’m talking quality, not quantity — but don’t have Mad Men bucks to drop on what will amount to a few drinks you’re worried will turn out less than late ’60s chic. The Inspiration drinks are presented in combos, allowing you to purchase three or four ingredients that will create just as many cocktails. It’s a great stop if you need to know how to stock a liquor cabinet.

Don't just make drinks, but learn about the art of cocktails.

Don’t just make drinks, but learn about the art of cocktails.

Last on the list is the Minibar Guides. You’ll want to turn to these when you’re getting really fancy. There’s a whole section on garnishes and how to make toasts, which is great information to have but goes a little over my head. Still, the techniques section is going to be really useful if you start in on a drink for the first time and are asked to flame, float or frost something. Minibar also equips you with a guide to bar tools and another for the essentials, perfect if you’re setting up your bar for the first time and need to know the basics you’ll want to have on hand.

Cocktail Tales

Minibar is more than just a drinks recipe app. Sure, every cocktail includes not only the ingredients but also the sort of glass it should be served in, what sort of garnish to use and exactly how to prepare it, down to pre-chilling the glass. More than that though, each cocktail comes with some background and maybe even a history lesson. Check the About section for each drink to learn where it came from, trivia and how it changes personality with substitutions.

Minibar will recommend drinks it thinks you'll like.

Minibar will recommend drinks it thinks you’ll like.

If you find a cocktail you really enjoy but want to branch out, tap Related to find similar cocktails. These drinks will often have a lot of the same ingredients, meaning you won’t have to make a big investment to try something new. If you do want to try something entirely new though, the related cocktails will also include drinks made with completely different liquors and mixers but that have similar flavors and will likely appeal to your palette.

Drinks to Go

I’ll admit that I live in a fairly debauched city, where we can buy alcohol at any time, on any day, pretty much any place, and walk down the street drinking it from an open bottle. If I’m ever struck by a sudden craving for a particular cocktail, I can just check the ingredients in Minibar and pick them up. Some places restrict the purchase of liquor on certain days and at certain times, thoughm and if you live somewhere like that, Minibar is still just as fantastic to have in your pocket all the time, because if your window’s small, you’ll want to be prepared.

Store the ingredients you already have in your inventory.

Store the ingredients you already have in your inventory.

I love the ability to save stocked ingredients to an inventory. That way, I’ll always know what I already have, don’t have and won’t overbuy on anything. What’s missing though, is the ability to add notes. I’d like to pop on a tag for the brand of whiskey I have on my shelf or leave a note for myself that I’m just about out of vodka. While it’s great to know what I have at home, it can be misleading if I don’t know how much I have of something or want to stock a particular gin.

Final Thoughts

Minibar is a fun little app to have around. It packs a lot of information into each section, but it never becomes overwhelming. If you want to learn more about cocktails or are old hat at mixology, Minibar is perfect either way. I particularly loved the guides to setting up your own bar, because I never know where to start or just what I should have on hand.

If you’ve wondered what you could make with just the ingredients you have, Minibar is perfect, and it saves you searching lots of different places and trying to piece together the information you need. Sleek and easy to use, Minibar is a must have for any amateur bartender.


Summary

Craft new cocktails at home and find ingredients on the go.

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