You can order a pizza with just your voice through the Amazon Alexa system but can you order beer to go with that pizza pie? Yes, if you’ve installed the Handoff skill and are in their service area! I gave their new alcohol delivery service a try and here’s how things worked out…
First, though, let me say that as a tech help writer and videographer, I spend a lot of time talking about how to get things to work properly. On the Amazon Echo side, I talk about the Echo product line, but in the vein of how to get Alexa working, how to hook up new speakers and how to get it all to play well with your smart home. Rarely do I talk about specific Alexa skills and what you can do with the system, however.
That’s why it was fun when Denver-based liquor delivery startup Handoff approached me and invited me to try out their new Amazon Alexa skill. Guaranteed alcohol delivery to your door within an hour. I’m not much of a drinker but it’s hard to resist trying out something innovative like this, so I assented and installed the skill on my Alexa systems:
Easy enough to install. You do have to use their app or go to their site and set up an account, complete with your delivery address and a payment method, then link that to the Alexa skill, but it’s pretty straightforward and took me maybe 2-3 minutes total. Once done the fun began. Here’s how our dialog went:
me: Alexa, open hand off
Alexa: Welcome back Dave. What would you like?
me: Recommend a rum
Alexa: Zaya rum brand reserva 16 years is our featured choice for $31.99. Say “add this” or “another option”
me: add this!
Alexa: How many bottles do you want?
Alexa: One bottle added to cart. Anything else?
me: No thank you.
Alexa: Got it. Would you like to add a driver tip?
Alexa: Speak a percent or cash amount, or say “cash tip” to tip at the door.
me: cash tip.
Alexa: For one bottles [sic] of Zaya rum brand reserva, your total is $34.51 including a $5.00 delivery fee. Say “yes” to confirm and place order.
Alexa: Handoff order placed. Enjoy. Cheers!
That’s it. A simple dialog. I didn’t explore their extensive wine and beer selection but you can apparently ask for specific types and recommendations, even by price (e.g., “red wine under $20”). I imagine that the selection is tied to the local delivery company’s inventory, so that might vary by region too.
A few moments later I received this text message on my phone:
I then started the clock and in exactly 20 minutes, there was a knock on the door. A pleasant young man had a brown bag with the Handoff logo imprinted and my Zaya Reserva rum bottle within. I showed my ID, he handed me the bottle, done.
Twenty minutes from the desire for some top shelf Rum & Cokes to having them poured and ready to drink:
I did chat a bit more with the Handoff app and was disappointed to find that it cannot tell you how to make specific mixed drinks. A logical extension of the service would be to be able to ask “how do I make a martini” and then have it even offer to put all the ingredients into your shopping cart. Maybe that’ll be in version two.
You might also be curious about how Handoff ensures that this all stays legal and doesn’t become a way for kids to have beer delivered while Mom & Dad are away. It’s pretty straightforward: the delivery person is required to check the ID of the recipient. If the recipient isn’t old enough or has a suspicious ID then the delivery will fail, the driver will take the products back to the local store and presumably Handoff will email you about the transaction fail. No sneaky way around that. Which is as it should be.
For the record, the Zaya Reserva 16 is a wonderful, deep, smooth spiced rum, suitable for sipping directly. It made a very smooth Rum and Coke, definitely way better than a Bacardi and Coke or similar cheap alternative rums. More importantly, however, Handoff proved to be the easiest way I can imagine to order alcohol. Next time you’re starting to prep for a dinner party or social event, it really doesn’t get any easier than chatting with your Amazon Echo device and having someone show up on your doorstep with the beers, wine or other alcohol you’ve ordered. Heck, you could use this just before a football game and have your beers by halftime!
Now about that pizza…
Disclosure: Handoff covered the cost of the Zaya rum in return for me trying out and writing about their service. Super nice of them. Also, please respect the legal drinking age and don’t drink and drive either. Kinda the point of this service, really.