Alcohol delivery services from apps like Instacart on the rise in Austin

One of the biggest delivery service apps, Instacart, has added a new boozy retail partner to its arsenal — at a time when the number of these apps available in Central Texas is only going up.

Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez for American-Statesman. Total Wine & More just became the latest retail partner for Instacart's booze delivery service.

Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez for American-Statesman. Total Wine & More just became the latest retail partner for Instacart’s booze delivery service.

Instacart is now partnering with liquor store titan Total Wine & More to bring alcohol purchases straight to the doors of customers. The retail delivery service, which has been doing grocery shopping for Austinites since May 2014, first got into booze delivery in November with a partnership with Spec’s Wine, Spirits, and Finer Foods.

But it’s far from the only service that will bring you beer, wine or spirits.

The locally-based BrewDrop was the first alcohol delivery service to hit Central Texas, launching in the spring of 2014. Since then, about a half-dozen others have joined it, including Drizly, Thirstie, Top Shelf and Minibar.

The latest is Lash, a Dallas-based delivery service that will bring customers food from local restaurants and alcohol from local stores in one order. (Customers will pay a $5 delivery fee no matter what, as well as an extra $2 for each additional stop per order.)

With so many of these companies jostling for your business — and lots of questions about whether there’s enough of a demand for them in the first place — it’s only a matter of time before there’s a tipping point. For now, though, on-demand alcohol service seems to be lucrative.

BrewDrop, for instance, has just been acquired by delivery.com for an undisclosed sum.

According to the acquisition announcement, “former BrewDrop users already accustomed to ordering alcohol on-demand with their phones will enjoy an easy transition to delivery.com, where they can order in much the same way from delivery.com’s website” and app. Plus, they’ll be able to order from restaurants, grocery stores and dry cleaners.

On-demand services like these were a topic at South by Southwest last month, when the heads of several of the companies spoke at a panel about the promising future of their business.

The founder of one of Instacart’s competitors, Favor, said during the SXSW panel that he truly believes “the on-demand economy is going to be a key ingredient for cities as we scale and for globalization as a whole.”

At the moment, at least, it’s a thriving one.

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