A lot can go wrong on a night out drinking with friends — incarceration, questionable taste, the realisation that you lost half the group two bars ago — but all of these things can be avoided with the right tools loaded in a smartphone. With these 13 apps, you will have full cups, manageable chaos, and a reasonable chance you'll recognise the room you wake up in.
It's Friday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Siri, would you hold my hair back?
Where's the Bar?
2. You're better off taking your friends' word for it on Foursquare for iOS, Android, and WinPho). You can find your crew if you haven't already linked up, or try a new place based on a word-of-check-in recommendation.
3. One real-time way to plan the location for the evening (in certain cities) is SceneTap, which can (theoretically) tell you at that moment how crowded a bar is, what the male/female ratio is like, and what the general age range is. It's a cool idea, but as of now, it's focused on college towns, as well as Chicago and SF. (iOS/Android)
What'll You Have?
4. Maybe you're meeting up for a drink at a friend's house before the night really gets going. That's when you need Mixology for Android or iOS. This app's standout feature is "liquor cabinet," which allows you to punch in whatever you have on-hand, and it'll come back with all the cocktail options based on your ingredients.
5. If you're shopping at a well-stocked beer store — or you're lucky enough to find yourself at a bar with two dozen microbrews on tap, you may be paralysed by an enviable paradox of choice. You need Untappd, for iOS or Android. It's basically a Yelp for beer. You and your friends rank and review all the different brews you try, and you end up with a nice database of favourites.
You Might Be Drunk By Now
6. The beginning of any drinking game signals that the night is taking a sharp turn. There's not a single drinking game app for both iOS and Android, but most offer similar features, which is to say, a lot of rules to drinking games. For Android, 101 Drinking Games includes digital dice, cards, and coins, so you don't need any of your own stuff. That's a good thing.
7. For iOS, there isn't a clear best game app, but the standby Drinking Games is worth a try.
8. Christ, how drunk are you? Exactly? Take a reading! Use an app to estimate your blood-alcohol content (BAC) based on how much you've been drinking. For Android, there's the very full-featured AlcoDroid (free).
9. For a BAC calculator on iOS, there's R-U-Buzzed, which isn't as feature-rich, but it's made by the Colorado Department of Transportation, so that's kinda official? Big disclaimer from the Colorado DOT: "This blood alcohol concentration (BAC) calculator is only an estimate and is not sufficiently accurate to be considered legal evidence." Got it? That means these things are fun at parties, but are not reliable (like so many of your friends). If you have even the slightest bit of doubt, don't drive.
Find A Designated Driver
10. You're not driving, but your car is at the bar, and so are you. Check out StearClear. The app can use your phone's GPS to find exactly where you are, and a team of two is dispatched to your location. One of them drives you home in your car. They payment (and tipping) can all be taken care of though the app. It's a fantastic idea that we hope takes off in a big way. (iOS/Android)
Don't Drunk Dial
11. Calling up your ex right, you drunken sot, is a horrible idea which you will regret in the morning. Luckily, there are apps that can prevent you from doing that by blocking outgoing calls and SMS to certain numbers for certain periods of time. For iOS there's Drunk Dial NO! ($1).
12. For Android, go with Stupid Phonecall Blocker (Free).
When Things Go Wrong
13. When you're going out drinking, there are so, so many ways to end up in jail. If you find yourself face-to-face with the cops, maybe it's time you take a look at the I'm Getting Arrested app for Android (free). Y'know, just in case.
Got any other drink-friendly app favorites? Let us know what you use, and check back next week for another Happy Hour.