Knock, Knock, Booze There

Popping the Cork on Alcohol Delivery in New Orleans

A flustered hostess realizes she doesn’t have enough wine for the new couple added to her party’s guest list, but she’s too busy cooking the evening’s hors d’oeuvres to run to the store. A busy mom tries to run errands with her tired and hungry kids and considers skipping her last stop, the liquor store. A man takes a drag from his cigar as he realizes the beer supply for his weekly poker night is running low, and he’s been hot the last few hands.

What do these three people have in common?

They could use a visit from an alcohol delivery service.

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Alcohol Delivery: A National Trend

Alcohol delivery has been available in various cities across the United States, particularly larger cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Boston for a while. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where and when the trend took off nationally, but the reason for the boom in alcohol delivery in the U.S. is harder to argue: apps.

“What’s really prompted all of this is the age of the app and the demand going along with food delivery,” says Leora Pearl Madden, owner of Pearl Wine Co. “The natural progression was for alcohol delivery, too.”

Though alcohol delivery has been offered on a limited basis in New Orleans for decades, over the past few years, more players have entered the arena. New Orleans is now a target for alcohol delivery apps as well.

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Alcohol delivery may be nothing new to New Orleans, but Drizly was the first on-demand alcohol delivery app in the city. Launched in New Orleans at the beginning of July, Drizly currently partners with Pearl Wine Co. and Brady’s Wine Warehouse to deliver wine, beer and spirits to legal-age drinkers across the city.

To connect New Orleanians with booze deliveries, Drizly uploads its retailer partners’ inventories to its free app and website. The company does not charge a markup, so consumers pay the same amount they would pay in the store, except for a $2 delivery fee per order.

The retailer handles both the sale processing and delivery of the order, as laws in several states, including Louisiana, block third parties from doing so. The app acts as an intermediary that provides easier access to these companies’ alcohol selections via Internet-ready devices, particularly smartphones — an increasingly common avenue for online ordering.

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Once the order is ready, the delivery person activates Drizly’s proprietary software, which alerts the customer that his or her order is on the way. The customer can then track the delivery person between the store and destination.

When the delivery person arrives, he or she uses Drizly’s ID software, which ensures the ID provided is valid, above the legal age limit and matches the name on the order and credit card. This software is one way Drizly stands out from the competition, according to Kerin Horgan, senior manager of communications.

The first on-demand alcohol delivery app in New Orleans, Drizly

Photo Courtesy of Drizly

“That’s something consumers and retailers alike are really excited about, that we are able to offer that additional step in making sure we’re doing a safe and compliant alcohol delivery,” says Horgan. “Because at the end of the day, for the liquor retailer, it’s their liquor license, so they want to have all the options to make sure they’re making the right delivery.”

For this service, retailers pay Drizly a monthly franchise fee that varies, based on an algorithm. That algorithm takes into account a number of factors, including a sliding scale for sales. Drizly has also received nearly $18 million in financial backing from investors, which has enabled the company to expand rapidly in only about a year and a half of operations.

Drizly currently operates in 17 markets, with Boston as its first and New Orleans being one of the latest additions. Further expansion, however, is on the horizon.

“The hope for us is that we’ll just keep adding new cities and developing stronger retail relationships, and then also other types of relationships with national brands,” says Horgan. “We’re just working to continue making the experience for consumers the best possible on the market.”

Pearl Wine Co.

Owner Leora Pearl Madden knew from the start of her business that delivery would be an integral component of Pearl Wine Co., which she opened in March 2013 at 3700 Orleans Ave.

“It was something that I often thought of myself when I’m sitting at home and maybe I can’t leave because I’m waiting for someone to come over, or I have a party and run out of wine,” Madden says. “I always thought, ‘Man, it would be really nice to have a wine delivery service.’ So it was always something that I was going to do.”

Pearl Wine Co. accepts delivery orders over the phone, through its website, and via Drizly. This range of delivery options enables Pearl to capture more customers, particularly those looking for a smaller production item that may not appear on the Drizly app.

All of Pearl’s alcohol selection is available for delivery at no markup from the retail price, which includes all of the small production and craft items that the company specializes in, in addition to more mainstream products, such as Jim Beam or Absolut. Madden says her biggest sellers are champagne, vodka, and sauvignon blanc.

The majority of Pearl Wine Co.’s deliveries are for bachelor and bachelorette parties, including groups coming to New Orleans that might receive a delivered party pack from Pearl purchased by the bride or groom.

While Madden loves working with consumers, she also takes pride in serving local businesses and offering free delivery on orders for their events and catering requests.

“We really try to foster the feeling that other businesses can capitalize on the fact that we are making this available to the city,” Madden says. “That was my whole vision when I opened Pearl, to make something available to New Orleans that hadn’t been available before, but also to bring a little joy to people. I love seeing the faces light up when you show up with a gift or their catering order or whatever it is. It’s just a lot of fun. It helps our fellow New Orleanians out.”

Customers must place a minimum $20 order for deliveries, which come with a $2 delivery fee that is waived if they order a case (12 bottles) or more. Customers then enjoy a visit from Wine on Wheels, Pearl Wine Co.’s customized black delivery van.

Brady’s Wine Warehouse

Brady’s Wine Warehouse is the newest addition to New Orleans’ alcohol delivery landscape, having just opened in February and having started delivering in early July. Like Pearl Wine Co., Brady’s Wine Warehouse also operates its delivery services through Drizly, though unlike Pearl, Brady’s does not use Drizly to supplement other direct delivery orders placed through the store.

When customers order through Drizly, they browse Brady’s carefully curated selection of wine, spirits, and craft beer housed at its storefront on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in the Central Business District.

Opened this February at 1029 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.,
Brady’s Wine Warehouse began its delivery service in July.

 Photo by Cheryl Gerber

One unique aspect of ordering from Brady’s is the receipt from the store, which offers critical tasting notes printed along with the bill. For example, if a customer orders a six-pack of craft beer, a writeup about that beer from a critic will be included on the receipt.

“It’s pretty neat that we do that,” says Brady’s general manager Richard Ellis. “We let people taste if they just want to taste and enjoy it, and we let people get a little bit more involved if they want to.”

Brady’s coordinates its delivery orders exclusively through Drizly, at least for now. Ellis says, “There’s no reason for us to turn down business. If another app came to New Orleans and wanted to do stuff with us, unless it was somehow against our contract [with Drizly], then we would be happy to partner with them.”

Martin Wine Cellar

Founded in 1946, Martin Wine Cellar is one of the longest-standing purveyors of alcohol delivery in the New Orleans metro area. While general manager Will Fauquier believes delivery probably started informally sometime in the beginning of the store’s history, it since has likely stemmed from food-related deliveries, which are also common for the company.

While lunchtime delivery orders are often dominated by catered luncheons for businesses, weekends often mean larger liquor orders for parties and events. Martin also sees many gifts ordered by locals and out-of-towners alike, particularly wine baskets or wine-and-food baskets. Fauquier says that one day, he took an order from a man in Virginia for two bottles of champagne to be delivered to his daughter, who lives in the area, for her birthday.

In addition to a large selection of wines, spirits, and beer, Martin Wine Cellar offers a full catering menu to go along with its alcohol deliveries, so a party planner can order all of his or her food and alcohol from the same company. That, Fauquier said, sets Martin’s services apart from other alcohol delivery companies.

One of the city’s earliest wine deliverers, Martin Wine Cellar offers a full catering menu
in addition to a large selection of wines, spirits and beer.

 Photo by Cheryl Gerber

While most of the other alcohol delivery services in New Orleans are much younger, Martin Wine Cellar prides itself in keeping up with consumer trends in the alcohol space.

“For years, we were one of the few liquor businesses that delivered—that’s not the case anymore,” says Fauquier. “Our challenge now is just trying to keep people realizing, ‘Oh, Martin’s does deliver these things. I need a case of wine but don’t feel like going out. Martin’s will get that for us.’ That’s really the plan right now, just trying to stay fresh in people’s minds and to stay relevant.”

Fauquier said that Martin Wine Cellar does not see an app or app partnership on the horizon, though the company would research and consider any opportunity that would grow its business. However, because Martin’s has such a comprehensive delivery service as it is, the company is not in a huge rush to adapt to the delivery app culture.

In the meantime, deliveries have a $50 minimum and carry a $10 delivery fee in the metro area or $15 for locations just outside. The delivery fee is waived for orders over $250.

Keife & Co.

Keife & Co. has offered delivery services along with its storefront since the one-stop alcohol shop opened Downtown on Howard Avenue in July 2012. According to owner John Keife, the company’s delivery services have grown along with the natural growth of the business.

As more people learn about Keife’s delivery services, the number of orders increases accordingly. Many of these customers live in the New Orleans area, but others are from out of town and are either visiting the city or ordering products for someone else who lives in New Orleans.

“Customers usually have something in mind, or if they don’t, we’ll have suggestions,” Keife says. “If we don’t have a particular product, we suggest something that would be similar in style. Oftentimes if it’s a gift, they’re pretty open to suggestions. They trust us, they can see the reviews and reputation we have online, and they know we’re going to pick a great product for them.”

“Customers usually have something in mind, or if they don’t, we’ll have suggestions,”
says Keife & Co. owner John Keife.

 Photo by Cheryl Gerber

He continues, “Then, of course, we have regular clients who call in who completely trust us. So they say, ‘Put together a case or two, and bring it out to me. I liked this wine,’ or ‘I didn’t really care for this one as much, so swap that one out.’”

Keife & Co.’s bestsellers for delivery orders are gift baskets rather than any particular product. This could be a gin and tonic setup, for example, or a martini basket that comes with not only booze but accoutrements that can be found in the store, such as a mixing glass, spoon, and jigger.

In addition to alcohol accoutrements, cheese and charcuterie plates are common for delivery orders and help set Keife & Co. apart from some of the other alcohol delivery services in the area. Customers tend to order these plates along with their alcohol, which can include anything from the storefront’s selection of wine, spirits, and craft beer.

Keife & Co. doesn’t host their inventory online and takes their delivery orders over the phone, “kind of old school,” as Keife put it. The company doesn’t intend to pursue partnerships with alcohol delivery apps for now, preferring instead to see how they pan out in New Orleans and whether they are cost-effective. In the meantime, deliveries are free in Orleans Parish, including the Westbank but require a $50 minimum, though a $10 to $15 delivery fee may be applied to orders outside of Orleans Parish.

Elio’s Wine Warehouse

Elio’s Wine Warehouse offers delivery as well, though on a smaller scale than other companies in the area. Elio’s tends to focus more on neighborhood deliveries and weddings and is well-known for its wide selection of keg beer, though the company sells wine and spirits as well. The liquor warehouse usually requires a $100 minimum on deliveries.

Whether locals are looking for Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Triennes Rose, or Great Raft Southern Drawl—the top three delivery sellers in New Orleans, according to Drizly’s orders—they can now enjoy the convenience of alcohol delivery services, which bring those libations straight to the customer’s doorstep. And that, to many New Orleanians, is something to raise a glass to.



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