Minibar now the latest alcohol delivery service in Austin

Just in time for South by Southwest entertaining, alcohol delivery service Minibar launches in Austin next week.
Just in time for South by Southwest entertaining, alcohol delivery service Minibar launches in Austin next week.

Another alcohol delivery service is joining the already flooded market.

Minibar is launching in Austin on Tuesday with an app and a website (minibardelivery.com) that will bring beer, wine and spirits to your door in under an hour. The service, which debuted in 2014 and now delivers booze in more than 20 U.S. cities, has partnered with three local liquor stores to get each order carried out.

Wiggy’s Liquor Store, Far West Liquor & Fine Wines and 34 Wine & Spirits — the latter of which is co-owned by Ricky Williams, a former University of Texas Heisman Trophy winner and NFL runningback — are in charge of making the deliveries, depending on what part of town each order comes from. Minibar requires a $25 minimum per order, with a delivery charge of $5 applied after the first month of use.

The fast-growing company joins other alcohol delivery services like Thirstie, Drizly and the Austin-based BrewDrop, all of which have arrived in the last couple of years.

Most recently, retail delivery service Instacart branched into booze, teaming up with Spec’s Wine, Spirits, and Finer Foods to bring beer, wine and spirits to a limited number of zip codes.

Another Austin-based business, Sourced Craft Cocktails, even delivers all the ingredients for home-made cocktails.

But Minibar might be prepared for all that competition; Austin is the service’s 22nd city, and it plans to spread farther north and east out of the city after its initial launch here. Plus, Minibar offers “tasting notes, pairing recommendations, cocktail recipes, gift delivery, and is the only provider to offer a subscription service,” according to a press release.

Users can also take advantage of Minibar’s auto refill option, which allows for items within an order to be delivered at a selected interval of one, two, three or four weeks. And if they go onto the website, versus the app, they can “quickly determine how much of each spirit is needed to plan the perfect get-together” via a party planning tool, according to the release.

“We’re thrilled to be expanding to Austin — our second new market already this year — and are excited to provide its residents with an easier way to shop for wine, spirits, beer and more,” Lara Crystal, co-founder of Minibar, said in the release. “We look forward to continuing to grow our footprint throughout Texas.”

For more information, visit minibardelivery.com.

The Austin Shaker an upcoming liquor store on Airport Boulevard

Two local bartenders are diving into the other side of the liquor business with the opening of their own store, the Austin Shaker.

Kirstyn Litchfield and David Maguire, both of whom have spent years working behind the bar of various Austin establishments, noticed one day that a decrepit building near where they live was for rent. It had been a liquor store since the 1960s but had become so run-down that it wasn’t a place either would set foot into — so Litchfield, driving by it one day, decided to breathe new life into it. Now, the Austin Shaker is about to open at 1199 Airport Blvd. with curated selections of spirits, wines and craft beers.

The store will also have a variety of specialty bar tools on hand to sell to both home and professional bartenders alike. That’s an important focus for both co-founders, who have worked at places like the Cloak Room and Easy Tiger and know the needs of the people behind the bar.

“We have a lot of friends in the industry, and they’ve been saying, ‘You’ve gotta carry this or that,'” Litchfield said. “Because our goal is to not only be a local liquor store for the neighborhood but to also be a destination for bartenders. That’s what we’ve been doing forever. And one thing we’ve noticed as a void in the city is a place where bartenders can go and consistently be able to buy bar tools.”

The Austin Shaker is a new liquor store opening in East Austin at Airport Boulevard and East Twelfth Street.
The Austin Shaker is a new liquor store opening in East Austin at Airport Boulevard and East Twelfth Street.
Stores like Williams-Sonoma can be a place to go for these items, but they’re mostly geared for home kitchens, not high-volume cocktail bars that are shaking up hundreds of drinks a night. That means bartenders are constantly on the lookout for hardy staples of their bar arsenal, like jiggers.

“Can a certain tool stand up to all the use it’s going to get?” Maguire said. “We’re picking and choosing what brands to bring in and what tools from what brands, so it’ll be a curated selection.”

Sometimes, finding niche ingredients for cocktails can also be tricky for bartenders — so the Austin Shaker will supply the hard-to-find amari, vermouth, bitters and other beverages “that will tickle the fancy of bartenders,” Litchfield said, but aren’t always carried by the bigger liquor stores because of the low demand for them.

Just about anyone is welcome at the Austin Shaker, of course, even if you’re not a bartender. Whether you’re looking to refill your supply of Deep Eddy Vodka or getting all the ingredients together for an Old Fashioned-fueled dinner party, Maguire and Litchfield will be behind the counter at their store to help.

“We’re a neighborhood liquor store first and foremost,” Maguire said. “We’ll get you all the product you need, even show you how to do it.”

Early next year, the couple plans to offer weekly tastings of beer, wine and spirits sold by various distributors; eventually, they also want to have cocktail classes people can take in a side room at the store.

And Maguire, whose background crafting the beer list at Easy Tiger has only deepened his love of good beer, plans to keep the beer options at the Austin Shaker as top-notch as the spirits. “I’ve got pull to get the good stuff,” he said. “The best of the best Prairie, the best of the best Founders.”

Both he and Litchfield anticipate the store might be a bit of a work-in-progress over the next few months as they draw in customers and add more bottles to the shelves. But they’re clearly proud of the work they’ve done themselves transforming the run-down liquor store — such a relic of old Austin that a pay phone still stands near the low-slung building — into a welcoming new one, with wooden shelving, colorful murals and dimmer lighting.

“This is our baby,” Litchfield said. “I never imagined I’d be opening a liquor store, but the opportunity came up and just seemed too good to pass up.”

Look for the store to open in the next week or two, once all the bottles have been added to the shelves. The Austin Shaker will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/theaustinshaker.