The Liquor Stores We Rely On: the All-Purpose

Posted on Aug 30, 2017


The Liquor Stores We Rely On

We write many words about where we buy drinks, and about what bottles we buy. We’ve realized recently that we’ve written very few on the very crucial question of where we find those bottles. Where would we be without a good spirits supplier? In fact we find that we rely on a full team of stores to meet our various liquor needs.

Our specific suggestions will be most useful to people who live on Capitol Hill or in Cambridge, MA. But we’ll also be speaking more generally about the types of liquor stores we turn to, and the characteristics we look for  in them. We’ll start today with the heavy lifter among our liquor suppliers. After a week break for a little vacation, we’ll return with the ones that bear less of the load but nonetheless fill a crucial role for us.

Photo: Landing Liquor Store

The All-Purpose

The All-Purpose is the place where we buy most of our liquor. A good All-Purpose has four characteristics:

  1. Broad Selection–This is your one-stop shop. When you go into your All-Purpose with a shopping list, you want to come out with every item checked off. That means theAll-Purpose has to have a decent inventory in all of the liquor categories. You might not find every single specialty item in exactly the brand you’re looking for all the time, but you should most of the time; and if you don’t, they should have a suitable substitute;
  2. Convenient Location–It’s a pain to travel too far out of your way too often. If it’s not relatively easy to get to a liquor store, it probably won’t last as yourAll-Purpose;
  3. The Right Brands–By which we mean the right brands for you. Favorite brands are subjective, but everyone has them, both liquor buyers and liquor sellers. Your all-around liquor store and you need to have compatible tastes in the items you regularly stock. It’s just not going to work if you can’t find your brand of vermouth at your go-to liquor store;
  4. Not Too Pricey–It’s okay to pay a premium every once in a while, for a special bottle or if you’re in a rush or something. But a couple of dollars more or less makes a big difference when it’s on every bottle you buy at the place where you go the most. Find anAll-Purpose with low prices, and you can afford more liquor. That’s what we call an incentive.

Does the place where you most often shop for liquor fit these criteria? If so, congratulations, you have yourself a legitimate All-Purpose.  If it doesn’t, you now have a good idea of how to improve your liquor shopping experience. And if you’re in Cambridge, we have a suggestion for you.

Photo: Mighty Squirrel

Profile of an All-Arounder: Cambridge Wine and Spirits

Location: Fresh Pond Mall, Cambridge

Best Feature: price

Best Buy: 1.75L bottles

Weakness: location

Cambridge Wine and Spirits comes close to being the perfect place to meet your essential liquor needs. It’s massive, with a huge selection at a variety of price points on almost everything. Their prices are typically a few dollars less than elsewhere on any given bottle, and they offer especially good deals on mixing spirits, with continuous steep sales on 1.75L bottles. The store is clean and well-lit, with wide aisles, with none of the cramped or dingy quality you can often find in a discount liquor store.

The one thing that keeps Cambridge Wine and Spirits from being ideal is its location. It’s in a busy strip mall off of a major thoroughfare. So if you choose the wrong time of day to go, you can easily find yourself stuck in traffic, circling for parking, or both. Keep away from rush hour and Saturday mornings, though, and there’s very little to get in the way of finding everything you need at a price you’ll like.