The next best thing, then, is ordering your booze through your computer, which new website Alexander & James lets you do
The internet has brought us many things, but you cannot – yet – obtain a drink through your computer. Perhaps with the advent of incredible 3D printers (you must have seen this 3D printing pen by now) you’ll be able to extrude your own receptacle to drink from, but unless you hook your laptop to the water supply (which has its own dangers), there’s no danger of obtaining a refreshing iGin-and-tonic.
The next best thing, then, is ordering your premium booze (if that’s not an oxymoron) through your computer, which new website Alexander & James – created by global drinks conglomerate Diageo – lets you do. With that new seriousness accorded to alcohol, as embodied by mixologists like Tony Conigliaro, bars like The Artesian at the Langham, spirit-makers like Sacred Gin and daredevils like Bompass and Parr, and a Net-a-Porter approach to content, you can get your drinks and your education via the website.
You can buy a selection of Diageo’s spirits – Tanqueray No. Ten, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Cîroc vodka et al – and all the equipment you might need for a menthol-smooth evening: twisted spoons, ice buckets, particular glasses. There’s also a hell of a lot you never knew you needed: a Johnnie Walker backgammon set (£2,300); a Johnnie Walker Blue crystal jug (£115), a ‘classic malts plinth’ (£79.99) (pictured below).
The content sections are diverting. If you look up the history of gin (as I am wont to do), you can learn about the different types of gin – heavy Genvea, sweet Old Tom, earthy Plymouth, modern London – and at the bottom you are invited to ‘shop the story’, which is meant to seem encouraging but feels perhaps a little marketing-speak.
There is plenty to interest in the magazine section, regularly updated. Grand Marnier being a Diageo spirit, there is a recipe for crêpes Suzette this month. A brief feature on the Langham Martini, served with Tanqueray No. Ten at the Langham, contains the deathless sentence ‘Chilly as a debutante, the silver [martini glass] stays cold and keeps the martini dazzlingly frigid’. I don’t quite buy the peppy, organic, faux-matey tone of any of the writing, but the articles are engaging enough.
So, until you can turn your Apple into an Appletini, Alexander & James looks like a thirsty man’s alternative.