Last fall, we wrote about a sweet little invention called Foodie Dice. The premise was simple: Don’t know what to cook for dinner? Roll the wooden dice–each one is inscribed with different elements of a meal–and whip up whatever the dice tells you to make.
When Foodie Dice founder Liz Downey decided to make a second set of dice, for making drinks, she hit a road bump. “It’s much different than food,” she says. “It’s more like baking.” The alchemy of a stiff drink is more nuanced than we drinkers realize. Unlike a stew, or some pasta, you can’t just keep adjusting ingredients, because you’re only having one tumblerful (for now, at least). Plus, the savory-sweet combination of, say, citrus and olives isn’t inventive as much as it’s vile.
Downey completed a self-guided crash course on cocktails, and figured out that all drinks fall into one of eight classic categories (cocktail, sour, fizz, smash, punch, flip, swizzle, and rickey). Each style of drink relies on a few of eight main ingredients: a spirit, sugar, liqueur, citrus, fruit, herb, spice, and bitters. So Downey gave each ingredient its own dice, with six flavor or alcohol options on each side (for example, etched on the liqueur dice are elderflower, sweet vermouth, almond, triple sec, crème de cassis, and prosecco).
From there, Downey made it nearly foolproof. You refer to a chart and pick out the kind of drink–fizz, swizzle, etc.–that sounds most palatable. That chart tells you which dice to roll, and the appropriate ratios for mixing ingredients. “It seems so complicated when you just look at individual drink recipes and all of the different spirits that are used,” Downey tells Co.Design. “But once the basics are understood, it’s easy to add in an herb, a spice, or a dash of bitters.”
Still, to be sure, Downey tapped the opinions of three working mixologists to give the dice a whirl. The consensus? “Each drink was unique, well-balanced, and quite tasty,” Downey says proudly. Like Foodie Dice, Mixology Dice are made from locally sourced wood, and packed up in upcycled wine tumblers. They’re likely to last through many, many parties: there are 1.5 million combinations.
Snag a set of Mixology Dice through Downey’s Kickstarter campaign, here.