Thirsty? There’s an App for That

Fit A World of Liquor Knowledge in Your Pocket

Long before consumers walk through the door of a brick-and-mortar liquor store, chances are good that they’ve already started their shopping with a mobile app. These portable computer programs run on smart phones, tablets and watches, providing a world of information on everything from what the 2015 Burgundy vintage was like (extraordinary for reds; uneven for whites) to how to make a Negroni (equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari).

Whether you’re a consumer or a retailer, liquor apps are indispensable sources of information and potential revenue. Here are the most essential free apps that your customers are using. All are available for iOS and Android unless otherwise indicated.

Essential Apps

Alberta is home to more than 1,500 liquor stores, which means that finding a specific bottle can be a challenge. That’s where the Liquor Connect app comes in. Its product search tool lists thousands of products and where you can purchase them.

Alberta is the first region in Canada for the US-based delivery service Drizly, which so far is available in Calgary and Edmonton. It promises delivery within 20 to 40 minutes, or, of course, you can always order ahead.

The globe-trotting bargain hunter and/or hard-core partier should download the membership-based Hooch. This app connects to more than 100,000 bars, hotels, and restaurants worldwide, offering free drinks, discounts, VIP experiences and exclusive access.

Trying to practice moderation? Then these per apps are for you. DrinkControl tracks what you’re drinking, how many calories you’ve consumed, and how much you’ve spent, then converts it all into standard alcohol units to let you know when you’ve hit your limit. DrunkGuard charts your blood alcohol count, calls a cab if you need it, and stops you from drunk texting (iOS). Similarly, AlcoDroid Alcohol Tracker charts your drinking habits and tracks your blood alcohol count (Android).

Wine Apps

Vivino and Delectable are two similar apps that are like having a tiny sommelier in your pocket. They let you scan both wine labels and wine lists, then offer you wine ratings, reviews and average prices, help you pick the best options from a wine list, track wines you have tasted, and create a personalized taste profile.

Considered by many to have the world’s most comprehensive wine database, Wine-Searcher lets you find, compare and (if you’re in the right country) buy wine from your phone.

Hello Vino is like a virtual personal shopper that offers recommendations for food and wine pairings as well as personalized wine picks based on your ratings, preferences, special occasions, and information gleaned from a Q and A.

Flaviar is an encyclopedia of more than 15,000 whiskies and other spirits.

Looking for something specifically for retailers? Wine Ring is an “AI-driven, B2B personalization software” designed for the wine industry. It makes recommendations based on analysis of sales and ratings, and serves retailers, restaurants, importers, distributors, producers, wine clubs, tasting rooms, and trade groups in more than 150 countries.

Spirits Apps

Consider Flaviar an encyclopedia of more than 15,000 whiskies and other spirits, with some of the most useful tasting notes going. They’re illustrated with a “flavour spiral” that includes custom-drawn graphics of flavour components–handy if you’re struggling to identify just what those fruity notes are. Plus it allows you to rate a spirit and add it to your virtual bar, then suggests similar spirits to try (iOS).

Distiller uses an expert panel of reviewers to rate whisky, brandy, gin, vodka, rum, tequila, and mezcal, and offers a short survey that makes this a great tool for those who want to try something new but are uncertain where to start. You can add your own ratings, search for rare bottles of Scotch, and even get gift recommendations.

For serious whisky nerds: Whisky Log (iOS) and Whisky Journal (Android) let you keep track of whiskies you’ve tasted by uploading photos, tasting notes and other details, while the Scottish Whisky News offers a whisky news feed that’s updated hourly (Android).

Beer Apps

Beer is all about social gatherings, and so is Untappd. It’s a geosocial networking service that encourages users to check in when they go for a beer, then share their experiences with their friends. It also offers beer and brewery ratings so you know what to order and can rate it after you do.

Learn to rate beer the way the professionals do with the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Styles app. It tells you everything you need to know about almost every type of beer and is particularly useful for brewers, retailers, servers, and other industry professionals., widely considered the most comprehensive database for craft beer, recently launched its first mobile app; while early reports suggest it’s a bit buggy, it still offers loads of information and has plenty of promise.

Meanwhile, consider BeerCloud your beer sommelier, suggesting all the best food pairings for your favourite pints, and Beer Pad your handy notebook that autofills all the essential information (both iOS).

Cocktail Apps

Whether you’re a home bartender or a pro, Mixology is the quintessential cocktail app. It’s been around since 2009 and has thousands of recipes right at your fingertips. More than that, it lets you search for cocktails by name or ingredient–or you can let it randomly pick one for you. It provides loads of information on ingredients, tools, glassware, techniques, and everything you need to know when you want to whip up a Corpse Reviver or Vieux Carré.

Cocktails Guru is similar, with more than 15,000 recipes and detailed information on each cocktail. It also allows you to rate favourite cocktails and follow other mixologists (Android).

Designed for the home bartender, Mixtura is a cocktail recipe guide that fits in your pocket. Its most useful feature is one that allows you to type in what you have in your home bar, then offers suggestions for drinks you can make with the ingredients.

Highball is another handy app that lets you create your own recipes with instructions, images, glass type, ice and garnishes, then share it on social media. You can also import recipes and create your own library of favourite cocktails (iOS).