There’s two kinds of parties: those where the host puts down beer and orders pizza, and those where real effort is made to serve the guests drinks on the same level as if they had gone to a restaurant. But when was the last time you were at a party of the second kind? Or knew someone who could make drinks properly — not just the exotic but even the commonplace well drinks that any bartender worth his keep can handle? Before you say sarcastically, “Is there an app for that?,” let me tell you there is. Only it work in conjunction with the Perfect Drink App-Controlled Smart Bartending scale from Brookstone.
The first thing is to define what the problem in making a well drink involves. You ask for a drink — a Tom Collins, for example — and the bartender has to make three determinations through memory and muscle memory: the memory being what the ingredients are to be found in a Tom Collins (gin, lemon juice, sugar, cracked ice) and in what proportion (a 1/2 ounce, ounce, etc.), and the muscle memory being to pour the right proportions of each ingredient into a glass — hopefully with some flair and suavity, because you’re not popping a beer bottle open. So not being a bartender I have to rely on getting the first two parts (ingredients and proportions of each) from a book and hope that I can follow the instructions — that’s great for doing by myself since making a mistake would be no big deal, but heck if I’m going to be holding a book in my hand while trying to make someone a drink — talk about unimpressive!
So instead I got hold of the Perfect Drink App-Controlled Smart Bartending product. I downloaded the app to my iPad so I could have a big screen to look at, and propped the iPad on the table with the included stand next to the “smart” scale. This scale looks pretty impressive, since it’s all round silver like a serving tray with a control section jutting out from the front with a series of touch controls and a black and white LED panel in the center (not backlit, unfortunately). It runs on batteries and I figured it plugged into the iPad somehow but was very pleased that it did this through the headphone socket, not through some additional dongle device. This also means that it can work with an iPhone just as easily — and it doesn’t matter if the iOS device has a dock connector or a Lightning connector, so smart move on the part of Brookstone for this one.
Also included is a 750ml stainless steel drink shaker which is excellent for making martinis or pretty much anything else. I placed it on the scale, which was turned on and found the app starting to “talk” at me to follow directions to calibrate the weight of the shaker (I imagine a glass could have been used just as easily). I watched the demonstration and then followed the procedure myself to make the Tom Collins — basically I poured in each ingredient while viewing its weight “fill” up a virtual glass on the iPad’s screen. I also saw that as the liquid reached the fill line, the program was already thinking ahead by showing me what the next ingredient that I would be pouring would be.
Of course since we’re talking about a computerized program it’s expected that it has built-in safeguards against mistakes: the app, which has told you when and what to pour (reflected on the LCD screen) also knows to tell you to stop when the correct amount has been poured. But should you over-pour of the ingredients, the app will readjust the measurements and what has occurred up to now so as to correct for it. Visuals added in with video and text makes for an interactive procedure that can take over for bartending “smarts.” The app can also suggest what you can make by telling “it” what liquor you have on hand. This works through a section dealing with what is in the “cabinet” and then is dealt with by the app, which shows you what can be made using what you have and what can be done with it.
Bottom line: The Perfect Drink App-Controlled Smart Bartending does what it has to in order to make a drink that both looks and tastes correct. Take $74.99, add a mobile device and you can say “Cheers” with the best of them.
LCD panel weighing scale, Works with iOS/Android mobile devices
Connection cable permanently attached
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.