Whiskey As A Service In San Francisco: Instacart v. Lasso

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Procrastinating party throwers in San Francisco have options to toss together a soirée in short order. Let me restate that: You can have whiskey delivered all but into your glass without the need to put pants on.

Launching today is a company called Lasso, which will deliver high-end meat, cheese, wine, and booze to your apartment in a few hours’ time. But Lasso isn’t the first company in San Francisco capable of providing you with Whiskey as a Service (WaaS). Instacart, the popular grocery-delivery service, is back to the booze game, which presents us with a conundrum:

So which should you use to get your tipple on?

Selection

Lasso has a decent, if limited selection of whiskeys to choose from. As you expected, it has Bulleit (both rye and bourbon), Glenlivet 12 year, and Jack Daniels. On the lower end you can get Evan Williams, and more towards the top – comparatively – Macallan 12 year.

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However, only 17 options are at your disposal.

Heading over to Instacart, it’s hard to directly compare the two services, as Instacart will bring you booze in San Francisco from four different stores, including its own Instacart Plus option. So, we’re really comparing what Whole Foods, Safeway, and Costco have compared to the brand-new, smaller, and higher-end Lasso.

2013-12-12_12h41_16

Instacart Plus has 25 whiskey bottles up for sale, Safeway has 59, Whole Foods has zero, and Costco has 7. This means that when it comes to raw options, Instacart blows Lasso away. Still, Lasso and Instacart are different services with ostensibly distinct goals. Let’s keep looking.

Price

Let’s compare Bulleit’s bourbon, Glenlivet 12 year, and Jack Daniels to get a feel for the list price differential between the two services [Whole Foods is redacted given that it’s not into the whiskey game on Instacart’s platform]:

Bulleit [750 ml]

  • Lasso: $23.99
  • Instacart [Instacart Plus]: N/A
  • Instacart [Safeway]: $32.09
  • Instacart [Costco]: N/A

Glenlivet 12 year [750 ml]

  • Lasso: $29.99
  • Instacart [Instacart Plus]: N/A
  • Instacart [Safeway]: $53.79 [15 year, not 12]
  • Instacart [Costco]:  $30.49

Jack Daniels 

  • Lasso: $36.99 [1.75 liter]
  • Instacart [Instacart Plus]: $19.59 [750 ml]
  • Instacart [Safeway]: $42.59 [1.75 liter]
  • Instacart [Costco]: $36.59 [1 liter]

Given the disparities between what is offered around the various stores, it’s hard to line up a one:one:one:one comparison, but I think that we can see a reasonable trend that Lasso’s booze prices are either commensurate with the competition, or better. Far better, in the case of Bulleit when compared to Instacart’s offering.

So, if Instacart has better selection, and Lasso is a bit better on pricing, we turn to delivery to get our hands around which service you should use to get your cirrhosis on.

Delivery

Because Lasso is new, it’s not charging for delivery at the moment. This is incredibly dangerous for us in the public, as it lowers the marginal cost of single malt. Instacart, an established company with what appears to be settled unit economics, isn’t leaning on short-term strategies such as free delivery to grow its customer base.

So for the moment, Lasso is cheaper than Instacart when it comes to delivering your booze.

For example, 1.75 liters of Jack Daniels at Lasso will set you back $36.99, with no delivery costs, and tax of $3.24. Total tally? $40.23.

That same bottle will cost you $42.59 through Instacart, not including $3.99 in delivery costs, and $3.73 in tax. (Also, if you don’t tip your Instacart delivery person you are a bad human, so that’s another $3 through the app. But you would tip your Lasso delivery person the same amount in cash, so the cost balances out.)

So, the tally comes out to $50.31 on Instacart against $40.23 on Lasso, disregarding tip. Until Lasso starts to charge for delivery, which it will in the future, on some whiskey bottles it looks like a deal. Instacart’s far greater selection, however, might be worth more to you than the price delta.

San Francisco, there are two mobile services that will deliver you booze. Stand proud. This is what being lucky feels like.

Side note: Why does Lasso eventually have to start charging for delivery? Simply this: It doesn’t want to go the way of Rewinery.

Top Image Credit: Flickr

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