The Mixology Game

by Rick Shearer

Rick grew up mostly in western Canada, with a brief sojourn in Australia. After spending seven years as an undergraduate at the University of Calgary, he moved to sunny southern California. He calls his career path an unplanned voyage around the world.

Instructional Objective The student will be able to combine either three or four playing cards which identify the contents and quantities of fifteen drinks. The student should be able to combine the cards correctly 80% of the time when playing the game.

Learners/Context The card game is geared towards adults (21 or older) who need practice in order to remember the correct mixtures for drinks taught at bartending school. The game may be played in class following instruction or as a study tool after class.

Rationale Because the art of mixology is one where the learners are usually in festive environments, the use of a card game is an appropriate motivator for learning. A card game, while fun to play, will also reinforce instruction on the proper mixtures of 15 popular drinks. It may also lead to experimentation with wrong ingredients, which will assist students in learning the results of incorrect combinations. Playing the game in small groups provides the possibility of corrective feedback from other players when a participant plays an incorrect hand.

Rules The Mixology Game is played by two to four people using a special deck of 52 playing cards. A rummy structure is used in the design of the game. Each player is dealt 7 cards from a shuffled deck. The remaining cards are placed in the center and the first card is turned face up.

The object of the game is for each player to combine one set of four cards which define the ingredients of one drink and another set of three cards which define the ingredients of a second drink. The first player to successfully combine the two drink combinations and place the two combinations face down in front of the other player wins.

After the cards are dealt, play begins with the player to the left of the dealer. This player either picks up the card which is face up and then discards another card face up in the discard pile, or draws a card from the deck, which is face down, and discards a card from his or her hand face up in the discard pile.

Scoring for multiple rounds in the game: Each card in the deck carries a value of five points. Once a winning hand is displayed and accepted by the other players, then the player with the winning hand obtains points based on the number of cards held by the other players, which are not part of the complete drink combinations. Play may continue for several rounds until a score, which is predetermined by the players, is reached by a player.

Card Design Each card in the deck has a picture of a particular liquor or mix and the amount of it which is poured into some drink. The cards are the same size as a standard deck of cards and have the name and quantity of the liquor or mix in the upper right hand corner of the card.

Deck Design The deck consists of 52 distinct cards. Some cards may represent the same liquor or mix, but will have different quantities associated with them. For example, orange juice may appear three times in the deck, but will have quantities such as 2 ounces, 8 ounces, and 10 ounces. The deck is comprised of 28 cards, which combine in sets of 4 to give 7 drinks, and 24 cards, which combine in sets of 3 to give 8 drinks. There are no wild cards in the deck.

Design Process The game was designed as a form of solitaire; however, I decided that interaction with other players would make the game more exciting and that feedback from the players when incorrect hands were played would provide an added instructional component not present in the solitaire structure. The distinct patterns and combinations to be played would also have made a solitaire structure overly complex. A possible limitation exists in the present design in that each group of players needs one of the specially designed decks of card; multiple decks need to be produced for a class environment. I thought that requiring a specially designed deck of cards added a sense of realism to the game and decided that this feature outweighed the drawback of not being able to use a standard deck.

The primary intent in choosing the content and structure of the game was to design a card game which would be fun to play for would-be bartenders, but which also would not allow players to ignore the instructional content. This was accomplished by designing a game in which players are not just combining like items, but instead are combining elements which make up proper mixtures of drinks. Players cannot ignore information on the cards and still win.