City Desk

ABRA Reviews Online Liquor Delivery Services

It turns out booze-delivery services can't escape D.C.'s brick and mortar liquor laws. The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration says it is reviewing Web-based alcohol-delivery services Ultra and Instacart.

ABRA wants to ensure that the businesses are in compliance with District alcohol laws, particularly because they're not selling the alcohol face-to-face with customers and can only check IDs after the booze has been purchased. These investigations, however, are not unusual, according to ABRA spokeswoman Jessie Cornelius. ABRA regularly reviews businesses that involve the sale or distribution of alcohol.

Ultra, which City Desk reported on when it first launched, is a new service that partners with local liquor stores and promises to deliver alcohol to anywhere in the city in less than an hour. Customers choose what products they want from an online catalog and then pay a $5 fee to get it delivered.

"Customer IDs are checked by the delivery person before delivering every order. Deliveries are made only within the legally allowed hours," Ultra founder and CEO Aniket Shah said in a release about the ABRA review.

Instacart, a new, app-based one-hour grocery delivery service, delivers all types of groceries to D.C. residents and announced this week that it has partnered with Magruder's to deliver its store products, including hard liquor. An Instacart spokesperson says the company hasn't been informed of the ABRA review but would work closely with the agency to any any questions.

Photo by Charles Sac

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