Curating the home cocktail experience with a new app design

Curating the home cocktail experience with a new app design


May 2021


My former employer, Drizly, recently published survey results that indicated that many people who started making cocktails at home during the COVID-19 pandemic are not planning to stop anytime soon. They have discovered something about this hobby that makes it as good as or better than going out for pricey drinks in a cocktail bar. In this project, I conducted interviews to find out exactly what that something is, and design an app to facilitate the experience. Since I wanted to focus on the research and UX design aspects, I used an existing brand and style to bring the designs to life. Cointreau is making a concerted effort to associate their name with high-quality cocktail recipes for the home mixologist, so their brand made a lot of sense to attach to this speculative project. Plus, I think their branding is pretty gorgeous, so it was fun to work with.


  • Research what people enjoy about making cocktails at home, what keeps them coming back to it, and what frustrations they have
  • Design the features and structure of an MVP version of an app to help users streamline and enhance their cocktail-making experience
  • Use Cointreau’s branding and visual language to create a high-fidelity prototype of the app and plan for user testing and iterating on it

Process at a glance

Conduct research

User interviews

SME interviews

Market research

Synthesize research

Affinity mapping

Site mapping

Design app

Preliminary sketches

Low-fidelity wireframes

High-fidelity mockups


Test and iterate

Unmoderated tests via Maze

Heatmaps and completion metrics

Prioritized list of revisions

Conduct Research

Most of my research focused on finding out the reasons people enjoy making cocktails at home, learning more about the context and how it fits into their lives, and honing in on frustrations that I could potentially design solutions for. I interviewed four participants who had identified themselves as home cocktail makers, and one professional bartender who also makes cocktails at home. I also drew on my own knowledge of the alcohol sales industry. During this stage, I also decided to focus on Cointreau as the brand behind the app, based on my market research. The choice made sense not only to keep the scope of this project manageable on my side but also because they could very likely be developing something along these lines. Some of the functionality is already implemented on their website.

Research Learnings

  • Cointreau is putting a lot of effort toward making their product synonymous with making delicious cocktails at home, particularly margaritas and cosmopolitans.
  • Users enjoy the process of making cocktails at home because it allows them to be creative and experiment. They are unlikely to always just follow recipes, but use the recipes as starting points and inspiration to create their own drinks.
  • Getting started can be intimidating - there are so many possible recipes and ingredients and it’s hard to know where to start. There is the perception that you need a fully stocked home bar before trying anything out, which is a financial and psychological barrier to entry.
  • Once people know the basics, they really treat cocktail making as an art form and a way to express themselves creatively. All participants said that they enjoyed making cocktails just for themselves and their households, but especially enjoyed sharing the experience with friends.

Synthesize Research

Based on my research, I set up the overall structure and features of the app and mapped it out in FigJam. Some of the search and browsing functionalities are almost the same as what is on the Cointreau website, so there is plenty of consistency between the two, but I added a more personalized element to the app. Users can create an account, keep track of what ingredients they have at home and what they need to buy, and use that information to find the recipes that they are most likely to enjoy. Once they find them, they can save those recipes and add notes for how they might want to modify them to make them their own, which brings in the creative aspect. A future version of this app might include a way for users to add their own brand-new recipes and share them with each other, creating more of a community.


Design app

Once I had the structure mapped out, I started actually putting it into motion. For the more interaction-heavy pages I started with low-fidelity wireframes to figure out the structure without having to worry about the visual aspects. Then I got my bearings on the visual side by building out the simpler pages in high-fidelity mockups and finished up by converting the wireframes to high-fidelity.


Step 4

There is a lot of functionality in this app, so usability testing was outside the scope of this project. If I had the time and resources, I would build out testing flows for managing the account features (home bar and restock list) and the various ways to browse and discover recipes. I’m fairly sure there would be some improvements that could be made to the usability of both aspects of the app, but since they would be fairly nuanced, I would want to do moderated testing so I could understand exactly which elements are confusing to the user. From there, changes should be made not only to the app but to the Cointreau website to keep the experience consistent.

Reflect and Learn

  • This project was a good balance of building out new functionality while also working within an existing visual style and product space. I was able to maintain consistency while also adding new dimensions to the overall experience.
  • The scope of this project could have gotten out of hand very quickly. Even this MVP version of the app would add significant technical work to the company roadmap. I think if I were working with Cointreau as a real client, I would need to work within more stringent technical constraints.
  • Since there are so many parameters to work with, the different ways of browsing cocktails ended up being more complex than I anticipated. I would like to know more about the underlying structure of the data if I were to iterate on this. I think there are probably more intuitive ways of traversing the space, but in the interest of keeping the scope smaller, I stuck to the functionality already on the site.
  • I’m still developing my visual design skills, but in this project, I was able to work with a visual style that I really loved. It made the process very enjoyable to produce something beautiful. I think I will really enjoy working closely with a very talented visual designer in the future.

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