Bartending is one of those gigs (like plumbing, say, or refereeing) that most smart alecks assume they could pick up in an instant without a worry. Give it a shot, though, and one quickly learns that it takes steady hands, an encyclopedic memory, a subtle palate, and nerves of steel – precisely the kind of specialized skill set few of us actually have. Brookstone's ingenious, app-controlled bartending system is a nifty breakthrough, a technological solution for those of us who love a great cocktail, but are hopeless behind the bar.
Perfect Drink combines the power of an app for iOS (and some Android) devices with a plug-in smart scale, which plugs into your device of choice via its headphone jack. Using the app, you select your cocktail type and number of servings. The app guides you through the rest. So, you'll place either the shaker or glass on the scale and then, ingredient by ingredient, add ingredients to your mix. As you fill the glass, the app displays the amounts of whatever you're adding in real time, allowing you to adjust your speed, if necessary. If you add too much of one ingredient, no problem: The app automatically adjusts the other ingredients to make sure you're getting the right taste. Then, per the recipe, you mix or stir or shake it up and pour the result into your glass of choice. It's not a robotic mixer, but for those who enjoy crafting (or consuming) a drink that's anything more complicated than a gin and tonic, Perfect Drink is a godsend.
Probably the best feature of the app is the "In Cabinet" feature, which creates a list of possible drinks based on the ingredients you have in your liquor cabinet and fridge. Based on our stock, we were presented with some standards (Old Fashioned, Tom Collins) and a few we'd never encountered, like the cider and bourbon Stone Fence or the Bennett, a gin-based drink made with lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters. Both were easy to make and met our expectations of a tasty, well-built cocktail. The app also features categories such as "Simple to Make," "Tropical & Tiki," "Prohibition Era," and "Books, Movies, Music & Television," as well as the ability to adjust and save the recipes based on your tastes.
There are a few downsides to the Perfect Drink, though. On our sturdy kitchen table, the app told us that the scale was occasionally unstable, and sometimes the measurements were incorrect, leading to some stiff Alexanders. The app also makes somewhat unpleasant, 8-bit-game sounds while you're making the drink, which scared our dog. Overall, though, the system is easy to use, offers delicious recipes, and is guaranteed to introduce new cocktails to any amateur mixologist. [$70; brookstone.com]