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Mar 27, 2009 10:49 AM

DC/Md. stores with good liqueur selection

Virginia's ABC stores have only a limited spectrum of liqueurs and other out-of-the ordinary spirits. So it looks like I'll have to cross the river if I want to find some of the cordials, aperitifs, etc. that I've tasted on foreign travels.

Which stores have the widest range of things such as Cynar, Aperol, Centerbe, Croatian cherry liqueur, infused grappas, amaros, etc.? And, while we're at it, are there any bars or restaurants in DC or Maryland that are notable for an extensive liqueur/aperitif selection?


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  1. Plain Old Pearson's, in Glover Park, and Pauls, in Friendship Heights, may suit you.

    1. Interestingly, I had this conversation Saturday with Mr. Pearson (if that's indeed the lovely gentleman who runs the place). I was looking for a framboise and a pruneaux. They were out of framboise and did not plan to have it in in again until September. He was didn't know what pruneaux but offered to try to get it for me. He found that he couldn't really obtain it here. While they have a selection of mostly your commonly available liqueurs, it was not what I think you are looking for. I have been seeking the same wonderful and unique items I discovered throughout Europe, but have not found such a purveyor outside of NYC. Haven't checked Paul's recently with this mission in mind so if someone knows otherwise....

      7 Replies
      1. re: Ellen

        Thanks for your thoughts. Pearson's sounds like a neat place, worth checking out in in any case. Paul's, too.

        I should acknowledge that last year Cashion's had a couple of my favorite Poli grappas on the shelf.

        Meanwhile, my apologies to everyone for posting this twice under slightly different headings. The server was having some kind of spasm, and it didn't seem as though either attempt to post had succeeded. But they both did. (sigh)

        1. re: Ellen

          If you find a source for pruneaux, please post. My husband and I first tasted this in Ravenna, Italy several years ago, and we'd love to find some locally. Thanks!

          1. re: Indy 67

            Alas, after a bit more searching, I'm convinced I'll need to return to Agen to find the wonderful liquer derived from the famous prunes of the region. i can't even find a source on-line to order from, although the prunes themselves can be had.

            1. re: Ellen

              Whoops! Ellen, I made a mistake in my earlier post; I confused pruneaux with prunolino. I assumed you were using the French name and I was using the Italian name, but we were referring to the same liqueur. Only when you referred to prunes did I realize that we were talking about two completely different things. I've never had pruneaux.

              FYI, in spite of the apparent cognate to the English word "prunes," I learned that prunolino is based on "Prugnolo" a blueberry-colored berry that grows on thorny bushes. The British would call this liqueur "sloe" and use it in making sloe-gin. To be further horticultural and pedantic, this berry is in the prunus (cherry, almond, plum, apricot) family.

              1. re: Indy 67

                "In Italy, Bargnolino is made by soaking sloe berries with sugar and spices in spirit (recipe varies locally), resulting a reddish sweet liquor, around 40-45% alcohol by volume often chilled before serving."

                1. re: alkapal

                  Not quite sure what your point is. The liqueur I was served was unambiguously named prunolino, and while it apears to be the same liqueur that Wikipedia is calling "Bargnolino" that was definitely not it's name in Ravenna.

                  If you need any more confirmation, consider the following sites (all in Italian):

                  (Scan down to the "liquori" sub-section




                  To bring this back to the original topic... The latter two web sites are recipes for making prunolino. (The last site is the more specific of the two). If anyone wants to try the "out-of-the ordinary ...cordials, aperitifs, etc. that [Gonzocook has] tasted on foreign travels" you'll be able to make this liqueur even if it can't be found in any DC liquor stores.

                  And in that same vein, using I was able to locate some recipes for the French pruneaux for Gonzocook. The first one isn't very specific.

                  à quantité egale (equal amounts


                  - sucre candy
                  - prunes
                  - eau de vie

                  verser tous les ingrédients et laisser macérer 6 mois puis filtrer et mettre en bouteille.

                  Other links:


         (This site has several versions to the basic recipe including a rum-based prune liqueur)

                  1. re: Indy 67

                    soooo sorry, didn't mean to impugn your knowledge. i just thought i'd look up sloe-gin, and that is the information i found.....

        2. Iy your willing to make the trk to Laurel area try Corridor Wine

          1. Two words for you: Ace Beverage

            On New Mexico Ave (NW DC) Selection of what you are looking for beats the shit out of the other recs in this thread

            1. call or visit schneider's on capitol hilll.

              2 Replies
              1. re: alkapal

                Schneiders is good for wine, not sure about liquor though. My local liquor store in Annapoils, Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits hasn't let me down yet. I was able to find a nice calvados and a an Italian muscat. They didn't have the creme de cassis from France that was authentic (had to put a bottle in my luggage on my last trip to Brussels) but they've had every other hard to find bottle and will order it if they don't have it. They are very customer friendly and have big sales throughout the year. If you're ever in Annapolis, it's a good spot.