8 cool drinking apps you have to get

From a booze delivery app to a tiki handbook to a guide to the city's bar history, these are the best apps for Chicago boozehounds
By Anthony Todd |
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There’s an app for everything these days—dating, health, watering your plants remotely. So of course there are apps for booze. Recipe books, bar guides, craft beer trackers, hangover cures and more—not a single area of your imbibing life need go without an app.

But most of them are junk. You’ve seen those spammy apps in the app store, with logos that looks like they were slapped together by a preschooler and vague promises of functionality. After wasting your 99 cents, you try them for five minutes and delete them. I scoured through the useless, the non-operational and the outdated to find the eight best apps for drinkers in Chicago. Download these and you'll save money, drink better booze and maybe even learn something about your favorite dive bar.

The top Chicago bar apps

Beachbum Berry's Total Tiki

Beachbum Berry’s Total Tiki ($9.99)

Chicago is in the midst of a tiki renaissance. One of the men behind the tiki revival in America (who's noted on the Three Dots menu) is Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the author of numerous recipe books on the tropical craze. He traveled the world tracking down old bartenders, recipe notebooks and tiki artifacts, and some of the best of his travels have been distilled into this app. Need to know how to make a Barbancourt Rum Cup right now? Well, you’re in luck, because it’s in the app. There are also interesting bits of trivia, photos of memorabilia and the ability to take notes for your own recipe modifications.

Get the app (Apple)

Chicago taverns and tales

Chicago Taverns & Tales (free)

I’ve only had this app for a week, and I think I’ve spent more time on it than any of the others on this list. Created by writer Liz Garibay, the app takes you through the history of more than 100 Chicago bars. She spent time in the archives looking up the history of the buildings and establishments. Did you know that the Lincoln Tap Room was originally built as a confectioner and manufacturing shop in 1917? And that Big Chicks is housed in one of the few remaining buildings in Chicago with an original 1930s terra cotta façade? If you’re into history and trivia, this app is for you. 

Get the app for Apple or Android

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Delectable

Delectable (free)

Delectable is to wine what Untappd is to beer, except with even more functionality. Want instant information on the wine you just opened? Snap a picture of the label. It’ll figure out what wine it is, give you info on that wine and even let you share the photo, Instagram-style, with your followers in the app. You can track your favorites, get recommendations from experts and even, if it’s legal in your state, buy any wine you see online. If you’re a wine nerd, this is the only app for you.

Get the app (Apple)

Drink Deck

Drink Deck ($4.99)

If you’re a fan of discounts (and really, who isn’t?) this is the drinking app to get. The app contains a set of 52 virtual playing cards, each representing a Chicago bar or restaurant. At each restaurant, you get a unique, one-use-only discount. It could be $10 or 15-20% off of your check, usually with a minimum $30 tab. And there are some great places in the app: Carriage House, the Grafton, Red Door, the Drinkingbird and Simone’s. As always, confirm the discount is still available before you start spending.

Get the app (Apple)

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Drink Specials: Chicago

Drink Specials: Chicago (free)

Despite the awful art (the opening screen looks like the logo of a creepy hotel martini bar from 1989), this simple, useful app lists drink and food specials at a large range of Chicago bars. Did you know that Malört shots are $4 at the Paramount Room on Wednesdays? Or that wine is half off at Bull and Bear on Tuesdays? That’s the sort of useful information contained in this app. 

Get the app (Apple)

Find My Tap

FindmyTap (free)

This app has a simple purpose: to connect you with the beer lists at your favorite bars. It finds your location, provides a list of bars and restaurants, and displays their tap and bottle lists—incredibly useful info if you’re a beer geek. The only issue: The information has to be updated regularly, either by the owner or, if you’re feeling magnanimous, by you the visitor. So the lists at some bars are weeks old. At some places, this is fine, while at others, this means the lists are useless. Why is it on the list? As with all crowd-sourced apps, people have to use it for it to be awesome. So jump on and start updating!

Get the app (Apple and Android)

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Minibar

Minibar (free; delivery fee applies)

It’s time for a drink and you realize there’s only a splash of your favorite gin left in the bottom of the bottle. I call that a Martini Emergency, and Minibar has the solution—liquor delivery. For a small delivery fee, Minibar will deliver a bottle of craft gin (FEW or Death’s Door were available on a recent day) to your door, quickly and efficiently. It also stocks a huge selection of craft beer and wine, though its mixer selection could use some work.

Get the app (Apple and Android)

Untapped

Untappd (free)

The mother of all beer apps, Untappd lets you do everything you ever wanted to do with beer on your phone except drink from the headphone jack. It tracks beer lists, lets you share beer comments and ratings on social media (which, admittedly, can sometimes get a tiny bit annoying), and connect with your friends. It even attempts to game-ify drinking with badges, though I must admit I don’t need any encouragement to down craft brews. 

Get the app (Apple, Android and Windows)

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