7 Wine and Spirits Subscriptions Worth Cheering
Point, click, and get world class drinks delivered to your doorstep.
Are you a wine and spirits geek with a credit card and a mailing address? Friend, you’re in luck—and you’re not alone. Interest in under-the-radar wines, craft beer and artisanal cocktails has exploded since the days when the Wine of the Month Club—which launched more than half a century ago—dominated the mail-order marketplace. These days, consumers of every taste can choose from a huge range of boozy services, from the reasonably priced to the extravagant—including an app called Minibar, which depending on your location can even score you a case of Tecate or a bottle of tequila in 30 minutes flat. Here are a few of the options that have us buzzing:
If you like to sip spirits neat, oohing and aahing over a peaty Scotch or admiring the subtleties of juniper berries in a small-batch gin, MashBox may be for you. Annual subscriptions contain 12 50ml. bottles of “handcrafted spirits”—three bottles arrive every three months—and cost $99. In any given quarter you might get Kings County Distillery bourbon, a spiced honey liqueur, a new absinthe, gin, or any number of other mystery spirits. Land on something you love? MashBox will send you a discount code for a full-sized bottle. Bottom line: this would be a sweet gift for someone trying expand their spirits palate in a low-risk way.
Cocktail fans knows there’s a lot of charm in the craft’s accoutrements. And Bartisanal, whose landing page greets drinkers with “Get your craft on,” gets it, too. Each of the mixologist-designed kits include a bottle of liquor plus most of the fixings you’ll need—such as bitters, jiggers, citrus squeezers, and agave—to shake and stir 15 to 20 cocktails. That all-in-one-go approach—like a jalapeno cocktail kit that contains infused tequila, spicy salt, agave, and more—would make it a sweet hostess gift for friends who love to entertain.
On the other hand, not everyone wants to DIY. Enter: Instapour, a cocktail in a box service that will send you every ingredient for say, a spicy cucumber margarita—right down to the pre-sliced baby cucumber and “cucumber caliente” mixer. Dump everything into a shaker with ice—your first order even includes said shaker—and it’s party time for you and about half a dozen friends. At $53 for 6 drinks worth, these premium cocktails don’t come cheap—but they’ve still proven popular enough to sell out. And if a boss of ours invested in the weekly happy hour subscription—or even the more cost-effective monthly one—we certainly wouldn’t complain.
Here’s a wine club with serious cred. Our friends at sister publication Food & Wine, including wine guru Ray Isle, are the brains behind Firstleaf, which sends subscribers six wines monthly for $80. First timers can try a get-in-on-the-ground-floor offering of three wines at five bucks a pop—including a crispy Sauvignon Blanc, a berry-laden Napa red that typically sells for $45, and a Super Tuscan from a legendary producer—that’s pretty darn solid. And it’s a service that really keeps learning: give Firstleaf feedback about your wine tastes and the bottles you’ve enjoyed, and it will adjust future picks accordingly.
Ashley Ragovin, a California-based sommelier, helms this wine delivery service, which includes an exciting-for-summer rosé option ($98 for three tough-to-find bottles). Though it’s pricier than competitors Bright Cellars and Firstleaf, we were nonetheless impressed by Ragovin’s chops, the limited-edition aspect of her picks, and the customizable, high-end “custom pour” option, which includes a chat with a rep about your taste (for the price tag of $140 for three bottles). Choose a automatically renewing subscription or give it a single go.
The brainchild of the late, legendary beer expert Michael Jackson, this service sends brew aficionados two 750-ml bottles of beer monthly—including limited releases and esoteric numbers such as Fantôme Chocolat, a Belgian saison redolent of cocoa powder and chili pepper. We like that tasters who choose beers do so blindly, without knowing their provenance, and that the site promises a 100% satisfaction guarantee or a replacement. At $50 including shipping for two big bottles, this isn’t cheap—especially when even grocery stores are upping their craft beer options—but it is fun, and you can try more beers monthly to get a better per-brew bargain.
More of an indie rocker than Top 40 fan? Prefer small-batch, local maple syrup to the big jug at the supermarket? Noble Brewer might be just your speed. The $44 monthly service pairs recipes from the country’s best home brewers with established breweries (because selling homebrews direct to consumers is technically illegal), resulting in a shipment of four neat, new 22-ounce beers every quarter. Love that chocolate porter you just tried? Go ahead and buy more; they’ll have bottles on reserve.