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FOOD + DRINK

A Retro Cocktail Computer with Over 100 Recipes

An Art Deco device that offers drink suggestions based on your ingredients at home

by David Graver
on 08 October 2015

As it stands, there are three ways to make cocktails at home: sift through the pages of cocktail books, search the internet for something that sounds decent or go on and pour in portions that feel right. There are risks involved with all of the above—like wasting ingredients, time and effort if the concoction doesn’t work out. The Cocktail Computer alleviates those risks, all the while saving space and looking like something you’d be proud to have on your countertop. The retro-futuristic device comes complete with an essential shopping list of 24 ingredients. Regardless of your skill level, it lets you find reliable, carefully researched recipes based on the core ingredients you want to use—by punching stainless steel cocktail pickers into slots that correspond to what ingredients you have.

Cocktail Computer creator Lily Szajnberg shares with CH that the this all stemmed from a need: "I kept looking for a reliable go-to resource for cocktail recipes. The online resources didn’t feel curated enough. There are a few choice blogs that I can really trust, but the selection of recipes was more limited.” At the root, she explains, there are two problems at hand. For for anyone looking for new cocktails with regularity, and can craft on an expert level, oftentimes the rare ingredients needed go to waste. Second, for the novice maker, there’s an air of intimidation when it comes to crafting something special. "I realized that telling my friends a prescribed list of go-to ingredients and recipes was the key to empowering them to make a solid repertoire of impressive drinks,” she notes. And then she found a more permanent answer to both.

"As someone who works at the intersection of art and technology, I was very hung up on creating an elegant solution for finding classic cocktail recipes, while also communicating an at-home bar essentials list,” she continues. "While I was brainstorming various solutions to this problem, a friend of mine, unaware of said brainstorming, mentioned a now defunct product she had found at a tag sale that used 'punched cards’—the original method for programming computers—to select cocktail recipes." Smitten with the idea of using technology from the golden age of cocktails, Szajnberg began a research and development process. She cites 1950s Chevys and the KitchenAid mixing stand as visual design inspirations.

And while convenience is at its core, there’s something quite magical about the device. Szajnberg attributes this to hours spent looking at children’s toys from the ‘50s. "While the Cocktail Computer is first and foremost a tool, it is also a bit of a toy. I kept seeing the 'starburst' being used across many 1950s toy packaging. That ended up being the proverbial (maraschino) cherry on top of the Cocktail Computer,” she concludes. For cocktail lovers looking to simplify their at-home process or beginners searching for an easy-to-use hub of hand-selected cocktails, there’s nothing quite like this being produced today—let alone another countertop device with as much whimsy.

You can score a Cocktail Computer on Kickstarter with a $45 early bird pledge.

Images courtesy of Lily Szajnberg

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