Happy Hour, Delivered: eCommerce’s Final Frontier

December 18, 2014

7:00 am

In need of a holiday cocktail to warm you up? Don’t want to brave the elements on your way to the liquor store? Joy of joys: eCommerce finally has an answer for this particular first-world problem. Now you can stay snuggled up by the fire and simply reach for your smartphone. Now there’s an app for the shut-in alcoholic in each of us.

Distiller has just partnered with the Drizly liquor delivery app to bring bottles of your favorite adult beverages right to your door step. Distiller is a whiskey recommendation and discovery platform which provides easy-to-read tasting notes from experts in the industry on a variety of different brands, distilleries, and distributors of whiskey products. Drizly, meanwhile, is a technology company that delivers alcohol from its retail partners to the consumer through a free smartphone app.

Currently, delivery is only available in Austin, Boston; Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, and Washington, DC, with St. Louis soon to follow.

For residents of those cities, just hop on your Android or iPhone app and Drizly will connect you with your closest store to view a list of over 2,000 beers, wines and liquors available for purchase. They also post a drink of the day for those seeking a new signature cocktail. Looking for whiskey but don’t see your favorite brand? Distiller will recommend three other types that are similar to what you are looking for. Once you fill your virtual cart with the items you’d like to buy and checkout, delivery can be expected at your door within 40 minutes or less.

This marriage of brick-and-mortar stores with the convenience of smartphone shopping is not entirely unprecedented, but it does fill a very specific niche: it has the potential to keep a few more problem drinkers off the road. 12 Keys has noted that 17 million American adults over the age of 18 have a drinking problem. While the long-term impact of home delivery for alcohol has in no way been evaluated, it will be interesting to explore how technology and on-demand delivery will change the way we drink recreationally – that is, if it manages to catch on this time.

At any rate, the partnership between Drizly and Distiller is full of exciting possibilities. This pairing links a company that leads the way in providing home delivery service of alcohol with another that helps connoisseurs connect with each other and compare notes on their favorite drinks.

Take, for example, Distiller’s director and editor Stephanie Moreno, who had this to say about a 16-year-old Lagavulin: “Vegetarians need not be alarmed. Despite the meaty, brisket-y aroma to this whiskey, cows were not harmed in its production. Peat smoke is integrated throughout the dram and the lavish mouthful of whiskey that you are experiencing leads to the discovery of seaweed, fruit, and tobacco. Hedonists, this one’s for you.”

So, in addition to the sheer convenience of having happy hour delivered to your front door, this partnership serves up all the gritty details you could hope for about your next liquor purchase, straight from people who know what they’re talking about. This, perhaps more than any other aspect of this partnership, is a step away from the status quo. Who hasn’t been frustrated by the innumerable choices in the liquor store, and wished for a better way to test the waters of public opinion?

Competition in the food delivery space is heating up; Amazon and Google are just getting started with on-demand food delivery services, but they face strong competition from competitors like Instacart and NatureBox. Granted, there is a lot of work to do before any of these services are ready to roll out across the country. For the time being, though, Drizly and Distiller seem to have a more-or-less unique take on this emerging industry, and one that might have a hand in forever changing the way Americans drink.

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Daniel Faris lives in Harrisburg, PA. He is a graduate from the Writers Institute at Susquehanna University and now spends his time blogging about politics.

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