Meet Alexa, Your Digital Barback

Credit: Courtesy Amazon

A cold beer, some brown liquor, or a glass of red wine will usually do the trick at the end of a long, hard day. But sometimes we don’t want a simple, familiar flavor. Sometimes we want to unwind with a complicated drink with different notes that hit us in a different way, and that takes us far away from the office. The problem is we don’t know how to make it, and we don’t want to pay $14 to someone who does. So instead we grab that simple, familiar something and sink into an easy chair.

But where there is a problem, technology often responds. The connected home can now include a personal, digital barback by way of the Alexa app and Patron skill on the latest Amazon Echo. With it, you can learn how to make your favorite drinks, impress friends (and more than friends), or just turn whatever you may have in your cabinet into a quality cocktail. All you need to do is set up the skill on your device and then talk to Alexa like you would your favorite neighborhood bartender.

The app helps you search its cocktail library by type, flavor, and occasion, or you can ask Alexa to surprise you with something new. Once you start to narrow down your search, be it with something light or fruity or spicy or strong, the app will tell you what ingredients you need and walk you through the step-by-step process of making it yourself, from Manhattans and Tom Collins to seasonal classics and a special list of recipes by Patron, including a margarita style for every occasion. 

Maybe best of all, if you’re not sure what to make, you can tell Alexa what you have available at home, and she’ll give you a list of cocktails to consider. We happen to have the right stuff for a Bloody Mary, and damn if it wasn't the best we've ever made. 

To be fair, we couldn’t actually keep up with Alexa on our first few drinks, mostly because we weren't always prepared with the ingredients and tools. Luckily you can pause or ask her to repeat something, and all ingredients, recipes, and steps are immediately sent to your phone, so you can read along when necessary. You can also hear bartending skills from the pros, learn interesting facts like a specific cocktail's origin, and hear a (bad) joke or two. And if you're running low on tonic water, just ask Alexa to add it to the shopping cart. 

Unfortunately Alexa won’t make the drink for you. Not yet, anyway. But honestly, sometimes a cocktail tastes better when you craft it yourself. And when you’re done, turn the lights down, slide into that easy chair, and let Alexa sync up some music to your mood. Cheers.