Food & DrinkGood Spirits

Alcohol Delivery Is Now Legal in Athens

Credit: Craig Adderley

Athens-Clarke County residents can now enjoy their favorite boozy beverages at home without making a trip to the liquor store.

Partnering with package stores in the area, locally owned Cosmic Delivery is bringing alcohol to its customers’ doorsteps. The delivery service’s new alcoholic offering has sprung up since last August when Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law House Bill 879, which lets businesses deliver beer, wine and liquor. The law took effect in December, after the Department of Revenue developed regulations related to it..

As people continue wearing masks and social distancing, the new law could help them avoid exposure to COVID-19 while also letting businesses explore a new way of serving their customers. And this new model will likely last beyond the pandemic, says Sachin Patel, owner of Northside Bottle Shop and Westside Bottle Shop.

“It’s allowing another avenue for the existing customer base to shop it from their living room,” says Patel, whose package stores deliver through Cosmic. “People like to get their groceries delivered at home, and this is just another thing that they’ll be able to get at their house.”

As the Georgia General Assembly made progress on the alcohol law in late July last year, Cosmic started exploring how to add alcohol delivery to their catalogue of services, says owner and co-founder Trent Walls. This research resulted in Cosmic’s updating its technology and providing training to its delivery drivers before launching the service in December, he says.

Participating businesses must follow quite a few regulations to deliver alcohol. Their delivery drivers must complete training, be at least 21 years of age and hold a valid Georgia’s driver’s license. They also cannot have received any DUIs in the last seven years. Because of these legal requirements and the costs associated with launching a delivery service, Walls foresees most Athens package stores using either Cosmic or another third party to deliver their products.

“Cosmic gave us a good avenue for a system they already had in place,” Patel says. “Because of alcohol being much more sensitive than food delivery and the issues we had with wrong orders and underage [customers] or to make sure we’re abiding by all the rules, it was the best fit for us.”

Customers can either browse the offerings from the website of their package store of choice or browse Cosmic. When placing an order, customers need to enter their age and the type of ID they’ll present to their delivery driver. Once the driver arrives, they’ll check the customer’s ID and ask for a signature. Per the law, drivers cannot give alcohol to anyone clearly intoxicated.

As with other services, customers can expect a delivery fee with its price depending on the distance of the package store from which they order. According to the law, customers can receive alcohol only from businesses in their own city. This means no one at a location outside ACC can order alcohol through Cosmic.

The law gives customers a new way to buy from package stores, but they can’t get a drink delivered from their favorite brewery. Breweries are currently excluded from the alcohol bill, an unfortunate circumstance given their abundance in Athens, Walls says.

“There were a number of people who weren’t super happy about that part of the law, so I could potentially see them doing an amendment later on or passing another law that would add breweries into the delivery group of people who can deliver alcohol,” Walls says. “But it would probably be a decent amount of time before something like that would make its way through.”

Going forward, Walls is focused on improving Cosmic’s online ordering experience and potentially allowing customers to order alcohol with their meals in one delivery. The delivery service has seen a rise in its overall customer base since offering alcohol delivery, he says.

Package stores currently delivering alcohol through Cosmic include ABC Package, Cheers Package Store, Cork and Bottle, Five Points Bottle Shop, Northside Bottle Shop, On The Way Package Store, Perry’s Liquor, Spirits on Washington and Westside Bottle Shop.