Drizly Is Shutting Down, but Booze Delivery Is the New Normal

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On January 15, Drizly, the app that lets you order liquor directly to your quarters like you’re a sultan, announced it would be shutting down. Or really, that Uber Eats was doing the shutting. After being acquired for $1.1 billion by Uber Eats in 2021, Drizly is being dissolved, with Uber Eats folding alcohol delivery into its own app.

According to Axios, a 2020 data breach from Drizly might be behind the drop. The company’s security failures, which Drizly knew about before the acquisition but did not take steps to fix, led to the exposure of personal data of 2.5 million customers. Uber for its part is saying that it’s shifting focus away from the separate, independently-run Drizly, with SVP of delivery telling Axios “we’ve decided to close the business and focus on our core Uber Eats strategy of helping consumers get almost anything — from food to groceries to alcohol — all on a single app.”

Naturally, Drizly seems not thrilled about being let go. “You’ll probably feel at home at Uber Eats as the drink selection you know and love is available there,” the company shadily says in an announcement email. “And look — we get it. They’re tall. They’re dapper. And they’ll deliver almost anything. We think you’ll be really good together.”

Drizly was launched in Boston in 2013, and quickly expanded to other cities around the country. And while some liquor stores offered delivery, the app supercharged the ability to be in the middle of a party and not have to send someone out for more booze. The pandemic made the business model even more successful, as it did with many delivery apps, but Drizly experienced even more of a boon as alcohol consumption skyrocketed during this time. According to one survey conducted in December 2020, 34.4 percent of respondents said “increased availability” of liquor was a factor in their increase in alcohol consumption. The authors noted loosened liquor laws contributed to this: “In many states, adults could, for the first time, order beer, wine, spirits — and sometimes even cocktails — for curbside or home delivery.”

We live in an era where it’s easy to get anything delivered to your door. Food, both in prepared and grocery forms, medication, appliances, clothing, are all available without even having to make a phone call. So it’s hard to appreciate how illicit the idea of alcohol delivery was in recent cultural memory. Drizly and other instant-delivery apps all have mechanisms by which to verify the customer’s age to make sure a bunch of teens aren’t using their parents’ credit cards to throw a kegger, but still. It’s a controlled substance, delivered to your door, without having to text some weird guy with a backpack who will possibly try to hang out even though you don’t want him to. And hell, in states where it’s legal, weed delivery is becoming perfectly civilized too.

I have never stopped being shocked when wine arrives an hour after I click purchase. There are two wolves in me wrestling, one that believes it is only the remnants of American puritanism in me that would oppose such comforts, and one that remembers how invested the alcohol industry is in convincing me that drinking is fine. Should it be this easy? Should delivery drivers have to be bouncers on top of everything else? I don’t know. But now, you won’t even need to go to a separate app from your Thai takeout to order a drink pairing.

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