App Freshness


iPhone App Review: DrinkOwl

iPhone App Review: DrinkOwl

March 18th, 2011 by

Do you enjoy drinking, but hate the part where you give the bartender your money? Are you a hipster that’s finally grown sick of PBR, but don’t know the most obscure hangout to find the best drink specials? DrinkOwl makes it easy for the broke alcoholic in all of us to find the best drink deals in town, or a great retailer with some drink specials going on so we can stagger home and drink in privacy, the way God intended.

How It Works

DrinkOwl is a mapping iOS app that shows the locations of nearby drink specials and retail alcohol outlets, compiled from user and outlet owner submissions throughout North America. Let it detect your location or search for a city or ZIP code in the search bar, and watch as (hopefully) dozens of glorious little flags populate your vicinity, showing you all of the cheap drinking establishments and retail outlets that you can handle.

Each flag lists whether the special is for beer, wine, mixed, or other (or “none”, if that particular place has no special that day). You can customize the map to show only specific drink types, or have it display the results in a sorted list, rather than on a map. Tapping a flag brings up an information box that shows prices and hours for the special, and you can drill even deeper into each establishment and see their specials breakdown for the entire week.

Pros And Cons

The app is simple and straightforward, offering you a plethora of drinking choices with just a simple tap of the screen. I didn’t have any luck getting the app to automatically detect my location and had to enter my ZIP code every time I wanted to search, so I’m not sure if the GPS features aren’t hooked up or if the app just forgot to ask me for permission.

The information included is comprehensive and useful, telling you for instance that “Murio’s Trophy Room” on Haight is offering three specials Monday through Friday: $3 well drinks and draft beers from 11a-7p, and $2 PBRs during the same times. Guess that’s where my theoretical hipster is headed tonight! If you ever find yourself in a bar and realize that the drink specials listed are no longer on offer, just browse to the establishment’s listing in the app and report the inaccuracy so the next thirsty sap doesn’t get burned!

There is a “maximum zoom level” on the map view that seems arbitrarily limited, and doesn’t zoom out enough to even include all of San Francisco on the screen. Not such a big deal in a smallish city like SF, but in a sprawling metro like Los Angeles or New York City it forces you to do a lot of tapping and dragging just to browse nearby neighborhoods.

The only thing I would like to see this app include is a way to easily share a business’s location, via email or text, making it a great app to not only find a good place but then to share that place with friends for a meet-up.


If you like to drink with friends but don’t like to drop too much cash, DrinkOwl will help you find the cheapest places to drink and shop, all for the best price I can imagine: free.

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