Since I moved to San Francisco in 2009 I've wound up working in two different bars for part-time work: Chaps II (now called Kok) where I was security and eventually a barback, and then Beatbox where I do security and occasionally coat check. It's decent work, but at both locations I watched the bartenders with a small degree of envy. They have the fun job where they get to talk to the customers, earn major tips, and engage in the modern alchemy of mixology when people aren't being "ironic" and ordering PBR. Sorry, but no amount of trendiness is worth subjecting your tastebuds to that stuff. *gag*
Though bartenders at both locations have let me experiment a little bit with the booze to mixed results - an International Incident was pretty tasty; Bull Sweat about broke my bartender when he tried it - I have pretty much zero experience, so the position is presently beyond me. Well, what are video games for if not allowing you to live vicariously through the lives of someone else? Enter Nimble Strong - Bartender In Training.
Available now for iOS and in the near future for Android, Nimble Strong puts you in the role of the titular Nimble, a guy hired to tend bar at the trendiest new nightclub in town with his best friend and business partner...until he catches his girlfriend cheating on him with said best friend.
Traumatized and dejected, Nimble slinks off to a hole-in-the-wall joint owned by the legendary Muskrat who offers to take Nimble on as a new bartender. Through the course of the game you learn the regulars and develop a rapport with them as they share their stories with you and you help out with advice and alcohol.
Controls are pretty simple. When the order is placed, you tap to select the ingredients, alcohol, or tools you need and pretty much just tap and hold on the glass on-screen until you've added as much ice, vodka, or triple sec as is necessary. This is actually more difficult than it sounds as the game is VERY particular about getting exact measurements. Get it slightly under or over and it's no big deal, but get a perfect pour and you'll get a bonus to your tip, while too much or too little will result in major deductions or failure. You'll also need to make sure you remember the recipes for your drinks as your tip also depends on how fast you make the drink, so taking time to check the recipe book will work against you, and you might wind up checking the recipe book more often than you'd expect. A Cape Codder is easy (2/3 vodka/cran + lime wedge), but can you remember off the top of your head what all is in a Long Island Ice Tea? How about a Godfather versus a Godmother when you're asked to do both at once? Don't worry, you get coached, but it's a challenge nonetheless.
This brings me to the neatest thing about Nimble Strong: while as a game it's entertaining if nothing groundbreaking, as a teaching device it's phenomenal. Through the course of the game, you learn how to make over 70 different drinks that range from ubiquitous to specialized, though sadly the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster is not among them. Not only do you learn the recipes, the drinks "pour" at approximately the same rate as they would from a real bottle, so you learn the timing as well. It's an amazing teaching tool for anyone wanting to learn to sling drinks, either recreationally or professionally, because it makes the onerous task of memorizing drink recipes actually fun. After a few hours of this game, you'll be ready to take steps toward your own bar tending career, or at least be prepared for the next wild party you throw.
Nimble Strong - Bartender In Training is available for iOS for $4.99 and will soon be available for Android devices.