Consider the humble beer run, a tradition that’s existed for as long as they’ve sold booze by the bottle. Like the crocodile, the beer run hasn’t evolved in the past few million years, its essence largely unchanged throughout the generations: find a sober driver, go to the store, grab your alcohol, pay for it, lug it back to the car, drive home, imbibe. Then Drizly came along.
Drizly, an online libation delivery service, is enjoying a great deal of success in Denver and, as such, has recently expanded their Colorado presence to Boulder and Vail. This inebriating app and website seems to be grabbing a hold in the local market so I decided to give it a try, see what the buzz is all about, and give Drizly a review.
Ease of use
Point. Now click. Congratulations, you’ve mastered the prerequisite skill for operating Drizly. Now for the more advanced stuff. First, select one of the four options from the top menu: Beer, Liquor, Wine, or Extras (these being non-alcoholic mixers like club soda or margarita mix). For the purposes of this article, we’ll stick to beer as it’s the beverage with which I’m most familiar.
Once in the beer sub-menu, further refine the search by choosing a specific brand, a type (IPA, Belgian, Pilsner, et al), country or state, or simply enter a few keywords into the search bar. If there’s one tricky part it’s that ciders are lumped in with the beers. Ciders are more so a wine than a beer but the categorization is understandable as beer geeks drink cider more often than do wine aficionados.
One you’ve filled your shopping cart, Drizly’s hardly different than any other website’s checkout process: enter your name, address, telephone number, and credit card information. Then click “Place Order” and your box of booze is its way to your door. It’s so easy a drunk could do it and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Drizly’s prices are comparable to those at local liquor stores. In fact, the shipments are coming from local liquor stores, driven to your house by employees of those stores. In Denver, Argonaut Wine & Liquor and Bonnie Brae Wine & Liquor Mart are Drizly’s hubs. It’s Liquor Mart in Boulder and Alpine Wine & Spirits in Vail. Whatever the prices are at these establishments, that’s the price on Drizly (Side note: the stores and Drizly share operating hours–when the stores are closed, Drizly’s closed).
There is some cost of convenience, though. The minimum order is $20 and then there’s the $5 delivery fee. Plus, it’d be nice if you tipped your driver. That last part is easy, the tip may be entered online at the time of checkout; when the doorbell rings, there’s no need to frantically search the couch for loose change.
Range of options
The selection on Drizly is pretty decent. Nearly or equally as good as the options you’d find wandering the aisles of the actual, physical Argonaut or Bonnie Brae, really. Drizly has the mega-brands (e.g. Budweiser, Coors), they have the popular craft brewers (e.g. New Belgium, Odell), they have small, local offerings (e.g. Denver Beer Co., Black Shirt), and they have 22 style options ranging from the typical to the niche (e.g. Lambic, Seasonal). Anything within reason can be found on Drizly. Those searching for ultra-rare beers, for “white whales,” might be disappointed, though; they’ll need to look elsewhere for that barrel-aged saison brewed with Andean glacier water and inoculated with unicorn farts.
Zone of distribution
Confession time: I write for Denver off the Wagon yet I don’t live in Denver, I’m a resident of Lakewood. As such, I do not fall within Drizly’s zone of distribution. Instead of having the beer sent directly to my house, I had to take a more roundabout approach and ship it to my sister’s house.
The Drizly map of Denver distribution affirms those living in the general vicinity of downtown or South Denver are safely within range. But suburbanites are lushes, too! Our liquor stores are fewer and further between, we need Drizly’s services more so than any city dweller who can walk three or four blocks to the nearest booze peddler. We’re plenty hip to the craft beer scene. It’s not just merlot-guzzling WASPs and Schlitz-chugging grandpas out here; the vibrancy of Denver’s beer scene has pronounced effects on the surrounding communities and we’d certainly embrace this service.
Drizly seeks to keep their deliveries between 20 and 40 minutes thus the reason for their limited range, Argonaut can’t drive out to the foothills in that timeframe. To that I say this: get Applejack Wine & Spirits on the phone and make a deal. Or Molly’s Spirits since it’s a such a tech-heavy place. An app partnering with the computerization of Molly’s seems a match made in sudsy heaven (which is my normal heaven). Whoever they align themselves with, Drizly ought to figure out how to fill that ignored gap between Sheridan and the mountains as there are a lot of potential customers in that area.
As mentioned, Drizly strives to deliver the goods in a little under three-quarters of an hour. I placed my order at 5:25 but the package didn’t arrive at my sister’s house until 6:25. They overshot the ceiling by 20 minutes. The delivery man, however, called me at 6:15 to explain the truck was running late and that he was sorry for the delay. They were diligent about keeping the customer informed and I very much appreciated that; I can forgive lateness, I cannot forgive lateness without explanation. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume most people receive their beverages within the advertised span of time but, if my assumption is incorrect, 60 minutes is still pretty quick. I mean, you’d have to be some sort of raging alcoholic if you couldn’t go more than forty minutes without a drink, right [nervously darts eyes back and forth]?
By my sister’s account, the delivery man was pleasant and, performing his due diligence, carded her before dropping off the package. Drizly isn’t the underage drinker’s godsend, they check IDs just the same as they do at the store.
Condition of the package
No cans were dented in transit, the trip from Argonaut was smooth and the delivery was handled with care. However, according to my sister, the beers did not arrive adequately chilled. Somewhat cool to the touch, yes, but, as she put it, only “winter car cold.” It would seem the beers were not refrigerated before going into the truck, they cooled en route as a result of the chilly night air. Had the order been placed in summertime, they might have been even warmer. What’s the point of this if there’s no instant gratification? As my sister put it, “If I’m desperate enough to have beer delivered, I want it drinkable.”
Again, I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps 99 out of a 100 beer deliveries come directly from the cooler and are instantly shuttled off to their destination. If not, the folks at Drizly need to re-examine their operations and work on solutions.
Based on this singular Drizly experience, I give the service a B- grade. The convenience is unparalleled, the prices are reasonable, the selection’s fairly vast, and the delivery crews are speedy and courteous. My two big criticisms are the small area of distribution and the beer’s less-than-optimal temperature. The matter of distribution is forgivable; it makes good business sense to start small and slowly expand into the rest of the metro area (and they definitely should look into expansion). The warm beer thing, though, is irksome but easily remedied. The delivery crew needs to be conscientious about loading pre-refrigerated brews into the truck and delivering said brews in a timely manner lest they begin to warm.
As it stands, Drizly is still a valuable app in certain situations. When you’re hosting a party and supplies are running low, Drizly’s got your back. When you want to send somebody a gift better than flowers or chocolate, Drizly’s your answer. When you’re visiting one of the eight non-Colorado markets and don’t know where to find the nearest liquor store, pull out Drizly. When you’ve shredded the back bowls of Vail and want nothing more than a stiff drink waiting at the base, Drizly can’t be beat. Download the app (available on both iPhone and Android) and check it out for yourself; it’s a worthwhile tool in your boozy arsenal.