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May/June 2019

Perfect Drink Smart Cocktail Maker

This smart kitchen scale promises to help you mix drinks like a pro. Does it deliver? 

How We Tested

If you've ever wanted to learn to make cocktails at home or simply expand your repertoire, the Perfect Drink PRO Smart Scale + Recipe App (priced around $90.00) promises to help. A free app guides you as you pour and mix each ingredient on the Bluetooth-enabled smart scale, eliminating the need to measure. The scale, which has a maximum capacity of 13 pounds and can be used as a stand-alone kitchen scale, comes with a 750-milliliter stainless-steel cocktail shaker and a small plastic stand for your phone or tablet. First we paired the scale with the app, which was a straightforward process, and then we tested its accuracy using laboratory weights. While it wasn't perfect, it was acceptably accurate.

We enjoyed browsing through the app's 400-plus recipes—many of which are attributed to famous bartenders, bars, or cocktail books—and reading a bit about each drink's history. We made a variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktails and created a virtual cabinet of ingredients that we had on hand. (For any missing ingredients, you can create an in-app shopping list.) We then made recipes suggested by the app based on our cabinet inventory; the app lets you save customized versions of recipes, so we tweaked and saved a few. We also tried to input our own cocktail recipe into the database. And after learning that you can set up the scale and app for guests to mix themselves drinks at a party, we hosted a mock cocktail hour where volunteers used and evaluated this function. Finally, we stained the scale and display with sticky grenadine, let this dry overnight, and evaluated how easy it was to clean.

The good news is that even the most novice among us enjoyed the process of choosing and following cocktail recipes using the app and scale, and the resulting cocktails were quite good. Even a former bartender on our staff was begrudgingly impressed.

How the Perfect Drink Works

To use the device, you put a vessel on the scale, whether it's the basic cocktail shaker that's included, or your own glass (or blender jar if you're making a frozen drink), as directed by the recipe. Then the app guides you through adding each ingredient; sets a timer for shaking, stirring, or blending; and tells you how to garnish and serve the finished drink. Instead of measuring ingredients, you pour them directly into the shaker or glass while the display and app both show a graphic of a cup filling. This visual, plus the “ding” of a bell in the app, indicate when to stop pouring, and the app automatically proceeds to your next step.

We found it fairly easy to pour accurately, but if we didn't, the recipe would rapidly adjust proportions so we could add more of the other ingredients to keep the right ratio. We had disliked this particular function when we previously tested Perfect Bake, an app for baking from the same company. (There's also a blender app called Perfect Blend, with guided recipes for smoothies and other blender fare. All three apps work with the scale we tested here and can be downloaded for free.) The problem with overages in baking is the excess batter, which either gets wasted if it doesn't fit in the prepared pans or risks causing an overflow. Plus, baking times wouldn't match up with the app-adjusted recipes. It's far less of a problem to have a little extra of a cocktail.

Overall, the process of using the Perfect Drink PRO Smart Scale + Recipe App was fun and intuitive, and we enjoyed learning through the how-tos on essential bar techniques such as muddling, swizzling, and using a shaker. One minor quibble: A few recipes had spots where it was unclear how to advance to the next step, but we quickly figured out what to do. For instance, after muddling cucumber slices in the shaker as instructed, we weren't sure how to get the app to move to the next step, but after trying a few possibilities (in this case, tapping the words “cocktail shaker,” which were not highlighted), the app responded. When this situation came up again in another recipe, we knew how to handle it. Other functions went much better: Adding ingredients to the virtual cabinet was easy, and while the app doesn't deduct any quantities you use, the big benefit is that it suggests cocktails you can make based on what you have on hand. We also found that adding items to the shopping list was simple. Inputting a personal drink recipe was very frustrating, however; there was a steep learning curve. By contrast, it's very easy to customize the app's recipes and save your version alongside the original. We made one nonalcoholic cocktail less sweet and added bitters to another, and the process was fast in both cases.

All Eyes on the App

The smart scale has its own display, but we found the app's display on our phones and tablets much clearer and easier to follow. With its colorful step-by-step graphics, the app kept our attention—in fact, we never looked at the scale readout as we made the cocktails. However, the display does make it easier to use it as a kitchen scale.

Methodology

We tested the Perfect Drink PRO Smart Scale + Recipe App, a scale and app combination that guides users through making alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktails at home, evaluating its performance, ease of use, and cleanup. We purchased the product online, and the price shown is what we paid.

Rating Criteria

Performance: We gave high marks if the scale and app successfully guided us to make appealing alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktails, and its functions performed as promised, including a virtual cabinet that suggests drink recipes based on what you have on hand, a shopping list, and the ability to modify recipes.

Ease of Use: We awarded higher points if the product was intuitive and clear and the buttons, connectivity, and user interface were simple.

Cleanup: We prefer products that are easy to maintain and clean with minimal effort and still look good by the end of testing.


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The Results

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Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.