More about ingredients

To a great extent, the “engine” behind this new recipe app project is the MixologyTech Ingredients Database, my attempt to—eventually—catalog everything that might wind up in a mixed drink, while organizing it all hierarchically to expose the underlying nature and relationships of the ingredients.

My Bar app icon The MixologyTech Ingredients Database began in earnest with the release of the iOS app My Bar in 2011 (although its roots stretch back to 1999 and it made appearances in the Cocktails+ and Tiki+ apps). When My Bar launched, the database had around 2,300 entries. By 2013, the database had grown to over 6,700 entries, and shows no signs of stopping!

graph

(interactive graph: http://mixologytech.com)

That growth is fueled by crowd-sourcing. Week after week, My Bar customers inform me what is missing, I add the new entries, push out an update, and the cycle continues. It’s now probably the largest such database in existence.

So why is this database so important to what we’re doing here? For one thing, it’s how the app understands that Barbancourt 8 Year, Barbancourt 5 Star and Barbancourt Réserve Spéciale are all the same product, and that Cointreau is a triple sec. Without that kind of data, you would not be able to search through and filter your recipes accurately. Likewise, it’s how the app understands that Recipe A specifies Beefeater and Recipe B specifies Tanqueray, that those are both London Dry Gins and therefore, because you happen to have Tanqueray on hand, you can still make Recipe A even if it won’t be quite the same result! So, the ingredients database is kind of a big deal.

Interestingly—for me and My Bar customers—this recipe app project is also forcing the MixologyTech Ingredients Database to grow up fast. For the last few years, the database was really only being used in the context of home bar inventory management (the My Bar app), and some details were a bit sloppy. Suddenly, the new recipe app project has created new requirements for the database to meet, which has in turn forced massive cleanups and reorganizations. The curation is hugely time-consuming work, but it’s certainly benefitting the ingredients database as much as the recipe apps.

—Martin Doudoroff