Beer, wine and liquor aren't the sort of thing that generally need a high-tech boost. You pour a glass. You drink it. You're happy. Right?
But in an era where technology touches pretty much everything, several companies have come up with an array of gadgets, apps and gizmos to facilitate and improve the flow of alcohol for everyone from home brewers to wine snobs. Here are a few of the most intriguing on the market (or coming to it very soon).
—By Chris Morris, special to CNBC.com
Posted 16 December 2014
Peek behind the bar at some restaurants and watering holes and you'll notice they're pouring your glass of wine not directly from the bottle but from what appears to be a spigot where the cork normally sits. Napa Technology makes many of those dispensing systems, and it has finally brought that tech to the home user with the Genesis.
Corks are replaced with a proprietary dispensing head, and air in the bottle is dispersed with argon gas. That keeps the wine fresh for a virtually unlimited amount of time. It will even keep the fizz in champagne for five days.
Take the guesswork out of the bartending process with this scale that works in conjunction with your iPhone or iPad. Just put a shaker on the scale (which plugs into the device's audio port), choose your drink from the extensive catalog on the app, and it will tell you what ingredients you need to pour—and when to stop pouring.
Overpour one part? No problem. The device will compensate with the other components. And if you're not sure what to make, just tell the accompanying app what alcohol and mixers you have in your cabinet and it will suggest a few ideas for you.
Too much head on a beer is a bad thing. No head on a beer isn't much better. But the perfect head—generally considered to be about an inch high—releases the aromatics and amplifies the flavor. The Sonic Foamer lets you achieve that every time, using a base that passes ultrasonic vibrations into the beer, causing the effect. It can make a good beer better.
There's a responsibility that comes with a night out. Not drinking at all is, of course, the smartest thing to do if you're driving, but too few people do that. Now, though, they can get a sense of their blood alcohol level with a smartphone and this attachment.
Blow for five seconds into the Bluetooth-enabled sensor and the device will display an estimate of your BAC onscreen (though it's not guaranteed accurate for legal defense). The data is retained in the app, giving you a history of your nights out.
Growlers are great ways to bring home beer from your local craft brewery, but they're also a ticking clock. Synek's solution is to have beer put directly into lined bags (similar to that in which many wines are sold) and never introduce oxygen to the mix.
The result? Draft beer that stays fresh for months in a dispenser that lets you pour a cold one whenever you'd like. The system, which more than doubled its goal on Kickstarter earlier this year, should be available in the first half of 2015.
Thirsty but don't feel like driving to the local liquor or grocery store? There are a growing number of apps that will arrange for alcohol to be delivered to you. Swill, which is exclusive to New York City right now, promises delivery of 3,000 wines, 900 types of beer and 1,600 different spirits within 60 minutes.
Drizly, which offers the same service, is in 12 different cities—ranging from big metro areas like Los Angeles and Boston to smaller cities, like Austin and Vail, Colorado.
As craft beer's popularity continues to explode, people are getting more daring in their tastes. This gadget from the Dogfish Head brewery acts as an infuser, letting people experiment with adding new flavors to their beer. Fill the first chamber with your flavorings (anything from spices to coffee beans) and the second will settle foam and keep the beer cold as it runs through the two. 20 minutes later, you've got a beer that's unique to your tastes.
The expanded popularity of home brewing has created a new market for gadgets aimed at helping people create the best tasting beers they can. BeerBug blends the Internet of Things with the brewing process, with a digital hydrometer that measures the density and temperature of fermenting beverages, relaying that information to your smart phone.
That gives you more control over how the batch turns out, and can be useful to share with experts if you've got questions.
Oxygenation is what makes wine go bad. Removing the cork begins that oxygenation. But what if you could pour wine without removing the cork?
The Coravin system uses a small needle to penetrate the cork and force argon gas into the bottle, which eventually displaces the wine and allows you to pour it. It has earned the praise of wine critic Robert B. Parker—and impressed restaurateur, winemaker and "Master Chef" judge Joe Bastianich to invest in the company (which has raised more than $11 million so far).
Whiskey, tequila and vodka often tend to taste better cold, but putting them on the rocks dilutes the drink. Sharper Image's ceramic liquor chiller keeps a full bottle of your beverage of choice at a below-freezing temperature and easily pours it through a chrome faucet.
With a footprint of 9 in. by 9 in., it doesn't take up a lot of space on your home bar counter, either.