What You Need to Know About Alcohol Delivery

During COVID-19, consumers are looking for ways to get the products they want without having to venture out to stores. Fortunately, there are a wide range of delivery services that make it easy to get everything from groceries to home goods, but that isn’t the case with alcohol. In most states, consumers aren’t able to order alcohol online and have it delivered because of a complicated three-tier system that regulates sales. Read on to learn more about why this system is in place and which states do allow alcohol delivery.

Once Prohibition was lifted in 1933, states were still looking for ways to protect public health while also collecting taxes on alcohol sales. The solution was a three-tier system of producers, wholesale distributors and retailers that is still in place today. Basically, producers aren’t allowed to sell directly to consumers. They must sell their products to a distributor who then sells to restaurants, bars and retailers. As products move through the system they are subjected to taxes and markups. This system prohibits ordering alcohol online in many states. 

In places where alcohol can be delivered, there are a variety of options you can take advantage of. There are membership services that come with a monthly subscription. This is a great way to try new wines and other beverages. You can also order cocktail kits that come with all the ingredients and instructions you need to make a specific cocktail. Some bartenders are even offering online tutorials. 

States that Allow Alcohol Delivery

In a handful of states, you can order your favorite liquor, beer or wine and have it delivered directly to your door. A total of 15 states and Washington DC allow for alcohol delivery, but there may be certain restrictions in place. Only Nebraska, North Dakota, D.C. and New Hampshire allow all types of alcohol to be sold online. In Virginia and Oregon, you can order beer and wine, but not liquor. Other states, including North Carolina, have allowed for to-go cocktails orders when you get take-out from a restaurant. With a little research, you can learn about restrictions in your area. 

Alcohol Delivery and COVID-19

Since COVID-19 has shut down bars and restaurants around the country, some state and local governments are easing up on restrictions so that businesses can continue to earn revenue and hopefully survive the pandemic. Most states have designated alcohol retailers as “essential,” which has allowed them to stay open during lockdowns. The American Crafts Spirits Association is calling on all governments to allow consumers to order online and take advantage of contactless fulfillment. While it looks like there is little chance that online alcohol ordering and delivery will become the standard, the pandemic has raised awareness about the three-tier system, which could prompt more permanent changes down the road.

In today’s world of online shopping, you can order practically anything from your phone or computer and have it sent directly to your home. However, rules and regulations around how alcohol is sold have prevented it from moving into this modern era. COVID-19 has led to some lifting of restrictions, but in most places, you still won’t be able to take advantage of alcohol delivery.  

FAQs

How does alcohol delivery work?

There are a variety of different ways to get alcohol delivered. You can sign up for a monthly membership subscription, use delivery apps like Drizly and Postmates or order cocktail kits that come with all the ingredients you need to make a certain cocktail.

Can I order liquor online and have it delivered?

It depends. Not all states allow alcohol delivery.

What states allow alcohol delivery?

Nevada, Wyoming, Louisiana, Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, West Virginia, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Virginia, Oregon and Washington DC allow alcohol delivery, but there may be certain restrictions on the type of alcohol.

What is the three-tier system and how does it affect alcohol delivery?

The three tier system is made up of alcohol producers, wholesale distributors and retailers. Essentially, this means that producers must sell their products to distributors who then sell the alcohol to bars, restaurants and stores where consumers can make their purchases. This system prevents producers from being able to sell directly to consumers. Complying with this complicated system, which is strictly regulated, can limit the possibility for alcohol delivery.

How has COVID-19 affected alcohol delivery?

Certain states have eased restrictions associated with the three-tier system to help retailers and producers bring in revenue during COVID-19.

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