Drinkspiration: a drink recommendation app with a twist

The following app is rated for mature audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

I just had to write that, because, in the spirit of liability, Drinkspiration by Absolut (iTunes link) made me confirm my birth date upon initial launch. That, and I'd have a major guilt trip if little Jimmy went out on an all-night drinking bender because some iPhone app encouraged him to do so.

Like legions of apps before it, Drinkspiration aims to solve an age old question that has dogged mankind: What drink should I get? And while some like featured apps provide similar functionality, it's Drinkspiration's delivery that sets it apart from the crowd.

This delivery is premised on a UI that breaks from the traditional "table view" that adorns many similar apps (as well as a host iPhone apps) in favor of a graphic-and animation-centric and horizontal-based means of navigation. For instance, a color palette accompanies the "Recommend a Drink by Color" option.

Color is just one of a handful of options that you could make your drink decisions on. Of these plentiful options, two in particular stood out, both of them for their creative use of the iPhone's APIs. One is the "Recommend A Drink By My Location" feature, which, as its name implies, suggests several drinks for you based on your geographic location.

The other is the "Recommend A Drink By Background Volume" option. Using the iPhone's built-in microphone, this feature measures the ambient volume of your surroundings and gives several recommendations based on the volume. In my case, the quiet setting of my apartment (where I currently have an episode of Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch playing in the background) leads to a Mojito as one of my recommendations.

Although both of these drink-based algorithms may not be based on an exact science, they certainly make things more interesting. As do some of the other options, which include choosing a drink by: bar vibe, taste, glass type, weather, popularity, time of the day, and whether or not it has an "edge" or is "chic."

Despite these twists, Drinkspiration provides functionality common to this genre of apps. These include spirit-type (i.e., vodka-, rum-, and whiskey-based drinks) drink selection, as well as the traditional name-based selection presented in alphabetical order, which is presented in the traditional iPhone table view.

The app also provides Facebook and Twitter integration, giving you the ability to broadcast your favorite drinks to both social networking sites.

But Drinkspiration may not be for everyone. Some may find its database of drinks lacking in comparison to the more mature Drinks app (iTunes link). In addition, I found that the browsing hierarchy necessitated a "home" button that takes you directly to the main menu, instead of tapping your way out of several hierarchies to make your way back to the home screen.

Nonetheless, Drinkspiration provides a nice balance of the right parts of functionality and delivery, and leverages the iPhone's location and audio APIs to throw in some creative features lacking on similar apps. This combination gives it a nice mix that sets it apart in a category of apps whose primary goal is to help you decide on the right mixed drink to get.