Only One Can Win: Test Driving Brooklyn’s New Booze Delivery Apps

Test Driving Brooklyn's New Booze Delivery Apps

In life, but especially in apps, if you’ve thought of a good idea, there’s a good chance someone else has also thought of your genius idea, and is developing it in hopes of making a lot more money than you. So, it makes perfect sense that two booze delivery apps—Minibar and Drizly—launched in New York within a month of one another, and, like Seamless and Grubhub before them, will have to battle it out for our affections. In the name of dusting off our skills with the scientific method (and minimizing the time any readers spend outside of the house, apparently), we took them for a spin this weekend, ordering both to the same address at the same time to see which one would fare better. Here’s how they did:

Delivery Range
Minibar prides itself on delivering to all of Brooklyn, whereas at its Brooklyn launch, the word on Drizly was that it’d only start out covering Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Park Slope and Boerum Hill. As it turned out, though, both apps delivered to my Bed-Stuy apartment without any complains or confusion. If you’re not in a particularly far flung neighborhood, might be worth putting your address into Drizly just to see if it’ll work. Advantage: Minibar.

One of Minibar’s advertised selling points is its supposedly wider range of inventory, and this bears out. A quick scan of the liquor selection included around 100 different options (most of them sourced from Atlantic Cellars), including a lot of locally-produced fare like Industry City, Brooklyn Republic, and Widow Jane, as well as a separate section for cider. Drizly’s liquor section included just 36 options, though they did include Owney’s Rum and Greenhook Ginsmiths. Drizly has said they’ll start delivering beer within a few weeks, which is a big edge over the competition, but for now? Advantage: Minibar.

Both have sleek designs and roughly the same system for browsing your wine and liquor options. Drizly has a delivery tracking feature that, when it works, pulls up a map that shows you where your delivery driver is (as well as their name, which is a nice, Uber-reminiscent touch), along with credit card scanning technology that’ll save you the minor hassle of manually entering your credit card number. Minibar’s check-out system makes it more likely that you’ll enter a generous tip for the driver by default, which is the right thing to do, and more crucially, comes with the offer of a help line if anything goes wrong. Both services worked just fine, but I had a friend run into this problem with a Drizly order, and sure enough, Drizly offered a help email, while Minibar sent along a help email address and a phone number along with my receipt.
Advantage: Close call, but Minibar.

Drizly’s advertised as the faster service, but delivery took 44 minutes, while Minibar showed up in just 26. However: Drizly’s delivery tracker showed the order getting here right when the Minibar order showed up, and as it turned out, they were both using the same delivery guy. (As an aside, “So, you have two liquor deliveries coming, right?” isn’t the best question to answer when you’ve showed up at your door in a bathrobe at 3pm on a Saturday. Unclear if he believed me that this was for an article, but dude was nice, regardless.) It seemed that he had just happened to get the Minibar order first, then went a few blocks to pick up the bottle I’d ordered from Drizly, and was back within 15 minutes. Advantage: unclear. Tie?

I’d seen it reported that Minibar delivery started at 10am in Manhattan, and 2pm in Brooklyn. This isn’t strictly true—hours vary by zip code based on the hours of local liquor stores—but in practice, translates to roughly the same hours. Drizly seems to operate on a similar policy, and the options for my apartment all started at 2pm, whereas when I plugged in a few Manhattan addresses the start time was often more like 11am. Advantage: Manhattan.

Since they can’t legally discount the alcohol they’re sourcing from local liquor stores, prices on both apps are about the same, which is to say, standard liquor store prices. For this particular test run, Minibar came out on top, but then, that all could change once Drizly gets on top of its beer game, and both are solid options. Anyway, are you really going to complain about either nice service that’s trying so hard to deliver alcohol right to your doorstep? Check your privilege.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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