Apps for a night on the town

“Do you have any raisins? No? Then how about a date?”

Thanks to the iPhone in my pocket, I’ve got a million of these jokes. (It’s good that I’m happily married—technology hasn’t made pick-up lines any better.)

If you have an iPhone and are on your way out for a big night, you might want to make Apple’s iTunes App Store your first stop. Just like XS on Saturday night, the App Store is packed—with nightlife-related apps, that is. And just like the time-consuming and often disappointing dating game, you will probably experience a few duds before finding the one that’s right for you.

The Apps Store lists pick-up line apps alphabetically, like a directory of plumbers in the Yellow Pages: “A+ Pickup Lines Free,” “Amazing Free Pickup Lines,” “Awesome Pickup Lines” and so on. There’s even one called “Ninja Pickup Lines,” which features a man’s deep voice that says things such as, “Let’s go back to my place and you can help me practice my aim.” This Ninja app isn’t topping my list of recommendations, obviously—but even if it delivered conversation-starting gold, it would be of little use, since I could barely hear the voice in a quiet room. You would be hard-pressed to hear it in a wine bar, never mind a crowded nightclub—unless you go for the always-sexy Bluetooth-in-the-ear look, that is.

Bad lines aside, an iPhone is handy when it comes to a night on the town. There are apps to find bars (BeerCompass), to help pair food with wine (Wisconsin Cheese Cupid), for checking if you’ve had too much to drink (BAC Monitor)—even to find the nearest public restroom (Whizzer by Lunatic Fringe Product Design LLC, $1). There are mixology apps for mixing up impressive cocktails at home, too—in case one of those pick-up lines actually worked.

Thirsty? imbibe these apps:

YelpYelp (Yelp Inc., free). No matter where you are, this app—a descendant of the popular user-review site—will find a bar close by. Yelp built its business on what everyday folks think about bars and restaurants, so it’s not surprising that its app is better at incorporating user reviews than the others on this list. This is app is indispensable, serving both dedicated bar-hoppers and casual weekend pub-crawlers.

Wine SnobWine Snob (Brian Weisenthal, $2.99). This app is for serious wine connoisseurs who collect, catalog and know what wine to drink with dinner long before the meal is served. You can add tasting notes about the wines in your collection, get food pairing suggestions and search your wines (or those in the developer’s database) by type, bottle price, grape varietals and even region.

BAC MonitorBAC Monitor (Greg Kubacki, $1). This app monitors your blood- alcohol level by keeping track of what you drink, one drink at a time—all you have to do is push the button each time you order a round and it does the rest. It also keeps a running countdown of the approximate time it will take until you sober up using the Widmark Formula, which calculates your blood alcohol level using your weight, gender and perceived metabolic rate. Frankly, I wouldn’t rely on this to determine whether or not I should drive, but if you’re disciplined enough to remember to input each drink as you consume them, it probably wouldn’t hurt. Still, the general rule is simple: Don’t drink and drive. And never trust your life to a cell phone that can’t take you through CityCenter without dropping your calls.

Wisconsin Cheese CupidWisconsin Cheese Cupid (Shine Advertising Co., free). What does cheese have to do with beer or wine? You wouldn’t ask that question if you were from Wisconsin. This is one of my favorite apps because it pairs beer, wine and cocktails with the right type of cheese. Like brown ale? Try it with some nutty and slightly sweet Edam cheese. Ending a fine meal with a glass of port? Impress and explain how earthy flavors of Camembert or Brie complement Portuguese desert wine.

BeerCompassBeerCompass (Ultra MF, $1). This app does just what the name implies: It finds beer. It’s a little cheesy, with two lovely looking ladies (I like to refer to them as my personal beer angels) who greet you when you open the app. Touch the screen of your phone and the app’s compass will engage the built-in GPS and point to nearby taverns. It will also link to maps for more precise directions and includes bar phone numbers so you can call ahead and make sure they have your favorite lager on tap.

MixologistMixologist: Drink Recipes (Digital Outcrop, LLC, $1). Can you recite 7,900 different cocktail recipes? If your favorite bartender can, he’s probably using Mixologist. Whether it’s gin, bourbon, scotch or another spirit altogether, this app will offer plenty of ideas for keeping the party at your place. A great feature is the “liquor cabinet,” which allows you to input the booze you have on hand and this app will suggest a cocktail accordingly. Still, there’s no guarantee that a martini made from Bailey’s Irish Cream, DeKuyper Island Blue Pucker and month-old Thunderbird will taste any good.

Beer Pong FlickBeer Pong Flick (Robert Balian, free). Embrace your inner college kid and let your iPhone reconnect you with a game of beer pong. The inexplicably popular drinking game is now a social iPhone app, allowing you to play with former frat brothers and friends from coast to coast, strangers at the other end of the bar or against a ‘bot’ to hone your beer-drinking skills. My tip: Practice first. You’re older now; losing and drinking are both far more painful these days.

Gallaghers Beer GuideGallagher’s Beer Guide (Rich Gallagher, $1). Tired of drinking bottle after bottle of Bud at the local brewpub? Gallagher’s provides mouthwatering descriptions of common and hard-to-find beers. It can help you decide on what pint to order, too, in case you’re indecisive or don’t appreciate the difference between lager and pilsner. What’s more, it also has a function that determines what type of beer drinker you are. You may currently consider yourself an ale drinker but with Gallagher as a guide, you may learn that stout is actually the pint that’s right for you.

DrunkdialNO!DrunkdialNO! (Explore Fun Inc., $1). Save yourself from the walk of shame! This app will hide dangerous contacts from you—you know the ones; the ones you tend to want to call after a few cocktails. You can program the app to hide potential drunk-dials from you for a night or an entire weekend, depending on the intensity of your bender. Better, it will hide your boss’s number, too, in case you have a tendency of providing superiors with unsolicited performance evaluations whenever happy hour runs into overtime.

Psychic Bar TrickPsychic Bar Trick (IntroWizard LLC, free). Despite being shut down twice already, you’re determined to pick up the blonde at the end of the bar. Well, Psychic Bar Trick just may be your best and last shot. Here’s how it works: You ask cutie pie to think of a number, and the app helps your iPhone guess what it is—assuming blondie isn’t hand-gesturing “1,” that is. Will it work? Probably not—but it’s still better than whispering, “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put U and I together…”