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Alcohol Delivery: How to Do It Legally and Effectively

Alcohol Delivery: How to Do It Legally and Effectively

Last updated on 7/15/2020
man with mask delivering a wine box

As you establish your alcohol delivery service and prepare to sell alcohol for consumption outside of your licensed premises, use our checklist to make sure you’re establishing an alcohol delivery service that is both legal and profitable.

How to Start an Alcohol Delivery Service

  1. Check state and local guidelines for what off-premises alcohol sales and consumption rules apply to you.
  2. Obtain any required licenses, signage, and delivery tools.
  3. Establish a delivery method that meets your state's permssions. If home delivery is allowed, setup an internal delivery system. If you live in one of the few states permitting the use of third-party delivery services for orders containing alcohol, establish a qualifying third-party delivery service partnership.
  4. Curate a to-go food menu tailored to the beverages offered on your alcohol delivery and pickup drinks' menu.
  5. If applicable, purchase the supplies you need to put your cocktail kits together.
  6. Purchase signature steins, pints, growlers, and wine glasses for customers to add to their delivery or pickup order as a way to increase your revenue.

While stipulations vary widely, there are recurring trends in the rules for legally offering alcohol delivery and pickup services. We analyzed the most common alcohol delivery rules and broke down the top tips for how to start an alcohol delivery service.

Alcohol Delivery Service Menu

beer and wings

For restaurants to offer alcohol delivery or pickup services, most states require orders containing alcohol to accompany food. This provides restaurants the opportunity to craft a creative pairing menu.

Whether you own a brewery or a fine dining establishment with an extensive wine list, developing a pairing menu to accompany an alcohol delivery order saves money in the long run. Full meals are costly to create and don’t travel well. If your pairing menu is thoughtfully designed, it can even pull in new customers. Here are some ideas for creating an alcohol delivery pairing menu.

Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie boards are aesthetically pleasing, travel well, and are highly sought after by wine lovers. Fill your charcuterie board with:

  • Cured meats
  • Exotic cheeses
  • Pickled vegetables in unique brines

Loaded Fries

Make the perfect french fries to pair with your craft beer menu. You can use fries as the base for a variety of toppings. Since they have a mild flavor, fries can be dressed to accompany both your most refreshing sour beer and your heartiest stout. Consider offering the following types of loaded fries:

  • Aioli Fries
  • Truffle Fries
  • Dirty Fries
  • Poutine
  • Garlic Fries
  • Jersey Shore Fries
  • Rosemary Fries
  • Chili Cheese Fries

Chips and Dips

Tortilla chips and dips pair perfectly with your to-go margarita orders. Ideas of dips to match with various margarita flavors include:

  • Guacamole
  • Queso
  • Salsa
  • Black Bean Dip

Open Container Law Affects Alcohol Delivery

cocktail kit

The majority of states permitting to-go alcohol orders stipulate that the alcohol must remain in its original, sealed container. With a little creativity, you can increase your cocktails' profitability by curating aesthetically pleasing home cocktail kits. Here is how you can sell your signature cocktails without opening any bottles.

Cocktail Kit Items:

  1. Cocktail Recipe Card
  2. Alcohol Bottles
  3. Simple Syrup Bottles
  4. Your Signature Mix
  5. Cocktail Garnishes:
    • Dehydrated Lime Wheels
    • Cocktail Olives
    • Edible Flowers
    • Cherries
    • Candied Ginger
    • Grated Cinnamon
    • Sprigs of Lavender and Thyme
    • Fruit Wedges, Twists, and Slices

If your state alcohol laws only allow you to sell wine and beer for off-premise consumption, you can boost your beer and wine delivery service by offering guests the opportunity to purchase signature wine glasses, steins, growlers, or pints.

While taking advantage of relaxed liquor laws can help your business weather the pandemic, you must exercise caution. Alcohol delivery provisions vary not only by the state, but often by the county, and the rules are ever-evolving. Check your most current local ordinances before offering these services.

Alcohol Delivery Rules and Permissions

The rising popularity of fast-casual restaurants and delivery orders primed alcohol delivery as one of 2020’s foodservice industry topics of interest. Then, the coronavirus struck, inducing the greatest number of changes in states’ alcohol laws since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Years of pushing through legislative boundaries were eliminated. Instead, alcohol delivery and off-premises consumption exploded in a matter of months.

As an economic relief measure, forty-five states made provisions for businesses to sell and deliver alcohol to customers beyond their licensed premises. While most of these provisions are intended to be temporary, many states have already adopted relaxed liquor laws permanently, and others are in the process of doing so.

6/2020 Report of Alcohol Permissions by State:

The color by each state’s name indicates the level of clearance each provides for alcohol delivery and pickup orders.


  • Green = a high level of alcohol delivery and pickup permissions granted.

  • Yellow = some alcohol delivery and pickup permissions granted.

  • Red = no alterations in existing permissions have been granted.

Begin to build a framework of potential alcohol to-go and delivery opportunities with our report of each state’s overarching off-premises rules and permissions as of June 2020. Keep in mind that alcohol delivery provisions vary not just from state to state, but often from county to county, and alcohol takeout and delivery permissions are ever-evolving due to the coronavirus emergency.

We strongly advise that you continually check your most current local ordinances while establishing your alcohol delivery service.

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