Starting Monday, April 27, buying alcohol in Philadelphia should get easier, with liquor stores across Pennsylvania opening for curbside pickup.
PA’s strict liquor laws mean most residents get their alcohol from state-run Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores. So when the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) closed all locations of the stores and shut down its online ordering portal in mid-March, options for spirits and wine, especially lower-priced bottles, suddenly became extremely limited. Local distilleries can sell spirits and select shops and restaurants are licensed to sell bottles of wine to go, but the state stores are by far the more convenient option for most Philadelphians.
The PLCB’s online ordering system, which is for delivery orders only, started back up on April 1, but in very limited capacity. Eater’s twice-daily visits to the site have only produced a “We’re currently unable to take your order and apologize for the inconvenience” message and an advisement to try again “in the next few hours or coming days.”
On April 20, the PLCB reopened some stores for phone orders and curbside pickup, including 10 in Philly. So far, the setup hasn’t been sufficient to handle the volume of calls. But the chances of getting through to place an order should improve significantly starting April 27, when the PLCB expands the phone ordering/curbside pickup service to hundreds of stores across the state, including 48 in Philly. The full list is here.
Here’s how it works: Customers call a Fine Wine & Good Spirits store, discuss what’s available with an associate, place an order and pay with a credit card, and schedule a pickup appointment — likely not that day but within the next few days.
Hours vary but most stores will be open — for phone orders and pre-scheduled curbside pickup only — Monday to Saturday starting at 9 a.m. Each store is accepting a capped number of orders and it’s “on a first-call, first-served basis.”
The PLCB says: “We’re optimistic our capacity to fulfill orders through our website and curbside pickup will continue to increase, and we thank you for your continued patience and understanding,”
There’s a six-bottle limit per order, and customers can place one order per store per day.
For those who don’t get through, here’s a list of local distilleries shipping their booze in the Philly area. Restaurants, bars, bottle shops, and delivery services selling wine to go are here.