Don't get me wrong: people were perfectly good at getting drunk well before the telephone was even a dream. But with a few apps, your smartphone can turn you into a champion bartender, drinker or both.
GOLD MEDAL: Mixologist
A bartending app in the purest terms, Mixologist (and its worthwhile free counterpart Mixology) is exactly what you want it to be: a pocketable, inexhaustible list of cocktails that can be searched in a variety ways. Have limited supplies? Enter them into the app and it'll tell you what to make. Live outside of the US or carry the affectation of someone who has even though you just went to Amsterdam once in university? Switch from imperial to metric units on every recipe. Need more booze? Search for local liquor stores. $1.19, iPhone.
SILVER MEDAL: Drinkspiration
It's a branded app, sure, but don't worry: aside from a slightly inflated emphasis on vodka drinks, Absolut's Drinkspiration cocktail app is untainted. The recipes are sound, and the beautiful interface encourages discovery over searching, though drilling down to a specific type of drink is easy too. Some of the drink discovery tools are a bit gimmicky - is this app really recommending I drink a peach Cosmo based on the ambient noise level in my apartment? - but the colour, time of day and glass type recommendations are handy. Free, iPhone.
BRONZE MEDAL: Wine Enthusiasts Guide
Zero to wine snob in the time is takes to download this app. The reference materials about wines are impeccable and deep, such that you can bring up description and review of lots of popular wines within seconds, making you either a) able to choose from a inscrutable menu, or b) the most unbearable person at your table. The only shortcoming, I think, is that lack of practical discovery tools. (The included tools focus on retail prices and bottles, so they're a bit awkward to use at a bar.) $6, iPhone.
• Jimmy the Bartender: Free, with a few good drink recommendations, but loaded down with lame bro humour and pickup lines • Drinks! Pro: Another Cocktail app, albeit with a sloppier database and clunkier interface than Mixologist • Drinker: A free BAC calculator. Avoids the trap of including too many drink types, and simply asks you to estimate how many shots were in each cocktail, or to simply enter how many beers or wines you've had. • Drinking Games Free: You won't want to play all of these 75 games, but you'll probably be able to find one good enough to get the part back on track.
GOLD MEDAL: Bartender
A sizable user-generated cocktail recipe app, Bartender keeps it simple (aka easy to use when you're feeling a little tipsy). You can browse a list, save drinks to favourites or search by ingredient, which is incredibly helpful when you have an idea of what you want to drink. But because the recipes are user-generated, you might run across wonky instructions and bastardised drink recipes. Hopefully you kinda know what you're doing before treating the app as gospel. Think of it as the Wikipedia of basic drink recipes. Free, Android.
SILVER MEDAL: 10001 Cocktails
It's unnecessarily frilly but hey, it's unnecessarily excessive with 10,001 drink recipes (though most are admittedly garbage). Keep busy with the drinks or use the "Random Pickup Line" generator for when you're pumped up enough with liquid courage. I like the organisation when browsing (drink type > alcohol type) but it takes a little longer to get to the recipe, the search is buried and it's a little bit harder to use. Free, Android.
BRONZE MEDAL: Blood Alcohol Calculator
Because you should never drink and drive. And this app will tell you how illegal you are after the kind of night you had (drink type, weight, hours drinking) but really, just don't drive if you drink. ~$2, Android.
• Drinks: Has a nice "My Bar" feature to let the app know what alcohol you have in stock, but search feature is limited. • Bartender Buddy: Similar app to Bartender but costs a buck. Gives you boxes to check as you finish each step • Cocktail Hero: Check off the ingredients you have, the app spits back the cocktails you can make • Liquor Run Mobile: Shows you where to get liquor around you • Drinking Games: Find an excuse to drink through games with this app