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Wednesday Food: Bottle Shops as Bars

Increasingly, I am doing my imbibing not at bars or at home, but in bottle shops that have a license for on-site consumption.  If you haven’t been to one– I’m not certain of their popularity elsewhere as they were almost non-existent in Chicago but are thriving in San Diego– take your typical bottle shop lined with coolers of beer and/ or wine, and add any furnishings on which one can place a bottle.  Those which I have visited range from providing tables and food, to nothing more than a few oak barrels and counter tops.

You can tell whether they were designed for hosting or if it came as an afterthought to allow customers to stay.  The atmospheres are consistently casual but crafty: more like a friend’s well-stocked garage than a business.  When you don’t have to mix drinks, deal with walls of kegs, or even provide a waitstaff, all the focus is on quality and variety.  And the average patron?… twenty to thirty-somethings with an appetite for tasty, strong, sometimes rare drinks on a modest budget.  Selling everything at retail cost is the greatest loophole in the industry.

I encourage you to find the nearest bottle shop that welcomes you to drink your purchases in person, and enjoy your craft beer not for $5 a pint, but $2 a bottle.  I know that’s where I’m headed…

(Non sequitur: I was hit while cycling last week by a massive idiot making an illegal turn– WEAR A HELMET!)


August 17, 2011 - Posted by | Wednesday Food

1 Comment

  1. As someone who has researched these things recently, I can tell you that in Chicago you’d basically have to get a bar license to serve anything larger than samples – and those have something like $2,000 annual fees to Illinois and almost $5,000 to the freaking city! It sounds like a great idea, but unless Chicago changes it’s zoning laws there’s no way a venture like that could be profitable here. Stupid Chicago.

    Comment by Steve | August 20, 2011

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