Liquor Stores We Rely On: Schneider’s on Capitol Hill

Posted on Oct 31, 2017


Liquor Stores We Rely On: Schneider’s on Capitol Hill

We write all the time about the bottles we buy, what we think of them, and what we make with them. Every once in a while we give a little credit to the liquor stores where we find those bottles.

Profile of a Liquor Store: Schneider’s of Capitol Hill

Class of Store: All Purpose

Location: near Union Station, DC

Best Feature: a particularly wide selection of whiskey

Best Buy: Maison Rouge VSOP Cognac–a very functional brandy for only $24

Weakness: cramped quarters

When we left Boston for DC, toward the top of the list of things we needed to figure out in order to survive  was where to buy our liquor. We left behind a strong, well-balanced team of suppliers capable of meeting our exacting liquor needs. It was not a given that we’d be able to match it, or even come close in our new location.

Imagine the relief we felt when we discovered that one of the city’s best-regarded liquor stores was conveniently located on the path home from work. Convenience is one of our hallmarks of a good general purpose liquor store. Even more important is being able to find anything you require, or at least a suitable substitute. Impressively, Schneider’s meets that mark as well. We say it’s impressive because Schneider’s is an extremely tiny store. They’re like the Mary Poppins’ carpet bag of liquor stores; somehow wonderful items keep coming out of a space that couldn’t possibly fit it all. The small space means that substitution happens more frequently than we’d ideally prefer, but the substitutions are always thoughtful and interesting.

Schneider’s small size does have its cost. The place is often busy, and even when it’s not the liquor itself fills as much space as possible; so the aisles are small and tight. Merely turning around is a cautious procedure, fraught with the possibility of knocking over a bottle or knocking someone else into one. Probably to minimize the resulting carnage, the salespeople are quite aggressive, more or less insisting that they pick up bottles for you and bring them to the register. On the plus side, that makes for fewer broken bottles, and the clerks will find things far more easily than you. On the minus side, the combination of claustrophobia and assiduousness doesn’t make the Schneider’s experience exactly relaxing. If you want to peruse aisles of interesting bottles, make a pilgrimage to Potomac in Georgetown. If you have a list and want it filled quickly and easily, without you even lifting a bottle, take that list to Schneider’s.