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Party Saviors

Booze at your doorstep with a few taps and clicks

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It's happened to all of us. You're all set to throw a rockin' backyard party when you realize you forgot beer. You're scrambling to get the yard ready and the guests will be arriving any minute. You don't have time for a beer run. That's when the plethora of new beer and alcohol delivery services can really save the day.

National players like Drizly, Minibar and Instacart let buyers order brews online or through an app and have purchases delivered a short time later. Even brewery giant Heineken is jumping in the fray.

Drizly got its start when then-college students Nick Rellas and Justin Robinson asked the age-old question: "Why can't I get beer delivered?" The answer, they found after an all-night Google search, was that it was legal—except no one actually did it. A light bulb went off in their heads: Drizly was born. That was 2012; six years on, the company services more than 70 markets in the U.S. and Canada, including Jacksonville. Drizly partners with local liquor stores to deliver the brew, charging consumers a fee.

A year after Drizly's launch, rival service Minibar hit the streets. Founders Lindsey Andrews and Lara Crystal launched in New York City where nearly everything is delivered, except alcohol. Identifying a potential opportunity, the two developed an app and went to market. Unlike Drizly, Minibar does not charge consumers; instead, it collects a small percentage of the sale from its retail partners. Minibar also offers bartender-booking service in a few markets. Unfortunately, Jacksonville is not among them yet.

Instacart is better known locally for its grocery shopping and delivery service through Publix supermarkets, but it's also pleased to deliver alcohol if the need—or desire—arises.

The services work like most other online delivery services. Download an app, put in a credit card number and address and start shopping. Once you have what you want in your cart, pay and wait for delivery.

All these services require someone at least 21 years old to be present to accept delivery. For most, the delivery person will ask for a valid state ID and require the consumer to sign for the beer. (Drizly actually scans the ID with a proprietary in-app tool to check its validity.) If no one there is 21 or older to accept delivery, the items are returned to the service's retail partner and a hefty cancellation fee is levied on the customer's credit card.

Why have alcohol delivery services come to the forefront now? For the retailer, it's a way to get product out the door without customers actually going to the store. And, with more than 75 million millennials now old enough to drink, the ease of using an app to buy and get delivery of booze as effortlessly as ordering an Uber is very attractive.

So the next time you find the ol' beer fridge emptying out, consider getting a few six-packs delivered. Oh, and put some clothes on before the delivery person rings the bell.

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