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I tried three different alcohol delivery apps, and this one is my favorite

During the past year, I was really missing the bar.

Order drinks for delivery at GoPuff.com

Order drinks for delivery at GoPuff.com

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During the past year, I was really missing the bar. Going out, trying some new drinks, and just getting out of my head would have been great during all this, but it was taken away along with most other outdoor or social activities. 

So, only slightly daunted, I went headfirst into the realm of booze delivery to see if there I could find this missing piece of life without having to risk exposure to the dangers of Pandemic America. 

Booze delivery is slightly different from the world of food delivery, in that the way the services work isn't standardized yet. Some minor and major things change depending on which app you use, and thus the type of service you are receiving as well as the selection may be dramatically different. They also differ pretty substantially on who pays their delivery drivers the best, and who is supporting local businesses the most.

But without further ado...

Drizly 

The "Amazon" of liquor, or so they have billed themselves, Drizly offers a massive selection of various libations and attempts to separate themselves from the pack via the sheer variety of drinks on offer. 

Drizly
Drizly
Drizly

They are one of the only booze delivery apps offering nationwide shipping on top of local options, meaning even if there isn't a nearby delivery network set up wherever you're living, you can still take advantage of the app. 

Pick-up options are also a thing here, something neither of the other candidates in this article offer. Though we are here to talk about delivery specifically, having the option isn't bad if you find yourself craving the outdoors as much as you crave a drink.

Drizly operates out of nearby liquor and alcohol stores. The couriers are hired on by specific local locations, so hours and fees vary from place to place. The positive here is that a lot more money is going into the local business and delivery driver from this practice, and you’re getting a lower markup on the product itself. On the negative side, it's also the most inconsistent service of the lot, and delivery fees can be high. 

However, from my personal experience, I found the good outweighed the bad. Recently when I placed an order on Drizly my chosen sake was sold out. Instead of finding out in an impersonal email dealt with by an automated machine that has no idea what my actual needs are, I received a message from the owner of the shop, who was happy to walk me through other options he had for a replacement. We were able to rectify the situation easily, and I was left a more informed consumer for the experience. I would not expect this from every interaction obviously, but I was surprised how much it actually felt like I was browsing a shop versus an app when using Drizly.  

High marks for being a hybrid between brick and mortar shops and alienated online-only services. I do wish more things headed in this direction, but I can understand why consistency is important. 

Drizly

Pros:

  • Huge selection
  • Supports local
  • Pick up options available

Cons:

  • Inconsistent hours
  • (Potentially) high delivery fees

Saucey 

Saucey is more exclusive than the other options here, as they are only available in about a dozen major metropolitan areas in the states. That said, they are rapidly expanding and beginning to build a shipping network for areas they don't have full coverage in. 

Saucey
Saucey
Saucey

They operate similarly to meal delivery services, wherein the actual shop has less control, and sometimes little knowledge, of the delivery itself. Instead, Saucey contractors roam the city, grabbing orders from shops, and whisking them straight to your door. Fees are consistent and low (about $5), but expect some markup and a smaller selection since it's not always in the hands of the shop. 

They cover liquor, beer, and wine, as well as tobacco and mixers if that's your thing. There are no options for pick-up, as they are making their money via fees, and expect their couriers to be paid exactly enough to not quit... as is the standard with other similar delivery services.

One of the good things here is that they tend to operate quite late, all the way to 2 am in certain areas, though the selections tend to dwindle as time goes on as they are still grabbing orders from shops. Basically, if you’re in dire need of your drinks, make sure to get your order in early.

Another cool thing is the ability to schedule orders in advance, so if you know you're going to need a drink in a day or two, you can go ahead and get it out of the way instead of dealing with a last-minute frantic booze order. 

It feels exactly like GrubHub or DoorDash, with booze instead of food. My personal experiences have been mixed on delivery times, it can take about an hour or so despite 30-minute claims, but it always ends up getting here when I need it the most. This isn't a bad thing, there's just nothing that special going on either. 

Saucey

Pros:

  • Open late
  • Advanced order options
  • Consistent fees and hours

Cons:

  • Lower paid drivers
  • Lacks widespread availability.

GoPuff 

I was surprised at how much I ended up liking GoPuff. It legitimately feels like a better version of the convenience store. The extra convenient convenience store. It's what they're going for and I believe they've nailed the niche. 

GoPuff
GoPuff
GoPuff

They aren't explicitly an alcohol service, but they do have an okay selection. They are also available in a lot more locales and offer beer, wine, as well as liquor in certain cities.

Instead of working outside of shops like the previous two offerings, they are more centralized with their couriers picking up orders from a warehouse they've stocked up nearby. During the pandemic, I actually liked this because it was fewer points of contact for the driver and myself to get infected. Outside of that context, it translates into fairly quick deliveries without a lot of markups, but it does also mean there is no pick-up option available. 

Fees are fairly low as well and can be negated entirely with a $10 monthly subscription, charmingly called “Fam.” It's less rushing around for the drivers as well, which makes me feel a bit less guilty about getting everything out to my door these days. 

The convenience store aspect of it is nice since you can load up on snacks or, as my choice tends to be, antacids and vitamin drinks for the next day. 

On the negative side of things, the selection for alcohol on GoPuff is by far the lowest of the bunch and really only covers very standard fare (sometimes there are specialty options, but they tend to be marked up quite high). But at the end of the day, the basic options aren't too expensive – and sometimes that's all you're looking for. 

Anecdotally, the couriers at GoPuff seem quite a bit more cheerful than the others I've tried. I think this has a lot to do with the central warehouse they're delivering from – walking into retail stores all day can take a lot out of you. 

GoPuff

Pros

  • Centralized location
  • Quick delivery
  • No fees with subscription

Cons

  • Markups can be high
  • Limited selection 

So which one is the best? 

That's a big question, and you know it. The answer depends on what exactly you're looking for.  

I'll recommend Drizly for specialty orders or when you want to work directly with a shop. They do a great job on that.  

Saucey is very similar to Drizly. It lacks the personal touch, but it does tend to be the cheaper option. Consistent hours and fees are a big deal if you're going to be using it a lot, and their selection isn't too bad. 

GoPuff tends to be my personal go-to. It has completely replaced the beer run for me during the pandemic, but you may get a bit tired of the limited selection and higher prices if you're looking for something outside of basic liquor and domestic beers. 

As these kinds of services take off nationwide, it will hopefully lessen the need some people feel to leave their houses while drinking, helping to curb both COVID-19 infections and drunk driving. That's the big thing these services are offering here in the long-term: people make dumb risks when going for beer runs during long parties, and I'm happy to see these options starting to become more mainstream.