In Brief

New Jersey will allow DoorDash, Instacart to deliver alcohol and cocktails

By: - August 26, 2022 4:22 pm

Under existing rules, restaurants and bars cannot use third parties to deliver alcohol or cocktails. That will change as early as October. (Lynne Terry | Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Add cocktails to the DoorDash menu.

New Jersey will permit delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Instacart to deliver alcohol, including cocktails, from restaurants, bars, and liquor stores under a new rule announced by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Friday.

To deliver alcohol, those services must first obtain a $2,000-per-year third-party delivery permit, which requires they conduct background checks on delivery workers, train drivers to comply with alcohol laws, and enact safeguards against deliveries to underage customers that include strict record-keeping requirements.

“This is a game changer for New Jersey’s alcoholic beverage industry and a tremendous opportunity for growth,” Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director James Graziano said in a statement.

Applications for the new permits will launch on Oct. 1.

The state’s move comes as it faces criticism from craft breweries over ABC rules brewery owners say are crippling them. The rules, initially put in place in 2018 but finalized on July 1, restrict the number of special events breweries can hold annually and bar them from collaborating with food vendors, among other things.

Alcohol delivery isn’t new to the Garden State. Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill allowing restaurants and bars to deliver alcohol to consumers during the pandemic state of emergency, but that law did not allow firms to use third-party delivery services for that purpose.

The new permits can only be used by restaurants, bars, and liquor stores. Craft breweries and distilleries, which operate under a different type of liquor license, are not eligible.

Unlike existing alcohol deliveries, vehicles used to deliver alcohol under a third-party permit will not be required to display special placards or insignia. The ABC noted it will consider removing that requirement for first-party alcohol delivery drivers in the coming months.

Diane Weiss, executive director of the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association, said the special ruling — which itself can be reexamined at a later date — will especially help small bars and restaurants.

“It may be very helpful for some smaller businesses that want to use that service that can’t afford to have an extra person who does delivery,” she said. “It’s an option. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to use it. But it is an alternative for someone who wants to place an order, and it’s convenient for a consumer.”

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.