Liquor-Delivery Service Drizly Enters Connecticut Market

This season Drizly wants to bring the holiday cheer to you.

The Boston-based alcohol-delivery technology, which services nearly 40 markets in the United States and Canada, announced its official debut in Connecticut this week. The company has partnered with five local liquor retailers in greater Hartford, New Haven and Fairfield County to provide its on-demand service to designated areas of the state.

Co-founder Justin Robinson said Drizly has been working in "beta mode" in Connecticut for several months before the official launch to get retailers prepared for the service and work out any possible kinks.

"It comes down to being able to have enough coverage area to serve as many folks as we can, reliably, and additionally, making sure we have the right retail partners in place," he said. "We're only as good as our retail partnerships."

Drizly is now available to homes and offices throughout New Haven, Hartford, Farmington and Fairfield County (Greenwich, Darien, Stamford, New Canaan, Norwalk, Westport and Fairfield), through partnerships with Beverage Boss, Capital Spirits, Wine Cellars 4, BevMax and LQR MKT. The local stores, which are the licensed retailers, process the transactions and deliver the orders within 60 minutes, or at a time the customer designates. The stores pay a flat monthly fee to Drizly for use of its software, Robinson said, but all other revenue goes to them.

Customers can shop via Drizly's app or website, perusing available inventory of wine, beer and spirits. They can also add extra necessities, like cocktail mixers, limes, bitters, garnishes, cups or corkscrews to the order, Robinson said. "The goal is to bring the party or event to you, so anything you might need...any of that sort of stuff is available online if it's available in the [local] store."

Inventory and pricing are set by the retailers. The minimum order price is about $20, Robinson said, and the Connecticut partner stores charge $5 for delivery. (Drizly is offering free delivery for first-time Connecticut users with the promo code WELCOMECT, according to a press release.)

Drivers are required to check customers' identification on arrival, using Drizly's proprietary ID-verification system, and the store partners reserve the right to refuse a sale if the customer does not produce valid ID or is deemed too intoxicated to accept the order.

Robinson said Drizly is working to expand in the state, adding more Connecticut retailers to its partner list, and by the end of 2016, it will also be launching a two-day shipping option for areas that are not serviced by the on-demand delivery function.

Other technology-driven liquor delivery services have made entry into Connecticut in the past two years' time. The first, Ultra, launched in greater Hartford in May 2014, but halted its operations several months later. The company's website lists its current delivery areas as New York City and Washington D.C.

Porter21, a locally owned and operated service, continues to work with partner liquor stores to service areas in Hartford and New Haven, founder Ankit Harpaldas confirmed. A Courant reporter used the Drizly app and the Porter21 website for successful deliveries to a downtown Hartford apartment building Wednesday afternoon, and found both experiences to be prompt and user-friendly.

Wine Cellars 4 owner Steve Leon, who has partnered with all three services in the past two years, currently uses both Porter21 and Drizly to handle delivery operations from his Farmington store. He has been working with Drizly for several months and is pleased with the company so far, he said. "They really have things together."

Leon said that in his experience, liquor delivery "has yet to explode" in his service areas of Hartford, West Hartford and Farmington, but he's expecting it will at some point.

"In this day and age, you can't sit back and wait for people to come to you," he said. "You've got to go out and try to find them. This was a great way, I think, of doing that...Everyone's on their phone for other things, why not liquor and wine?"


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