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Best Liquor (and wine) Stores in Greater Boston

This came up in another thread, but figured it deserves it's own. I have some explanatory notes below as well:

Best Liquor Stores in Greater Boston (please add to this list as it is weak on N. Shore, South Shore, and West of 128 info).

- Martignetti's Soldier's Field Road
Pretty good selection of everything wine and alcohol. Quirky but knowledgeable crew in the wine department.

- Cambridge Wine & Spirits
202 Alewife Brook Pkwy
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 864-7171
Pretty good selection of everything wine and alcohol

Marty's Liquors
675 Washington St
Newton, MA 02458-1261
(617) 332-1230
Pretty good selection of everything wine and alcohol. Very strong on wine. Though a bit of attitude with the staff if you're not spending $40+ a bottle.

Brookline Liquor Mart
www.blmwine.com
1354 Commonwealth Ave
Allston, MA 02134
(617) 734-7700
Pretty good selection of everything wine and alcohol. VERY strong on wine as they are owned by one of MA biggest wine importers.

Wine Cask and Cheese Cask
www.thewineandcheesecask.com
407 Washington St
Somerville, MA 02143-3832
(617) 623-8656
Good wine selection, limited on liquor, okay prices. Great if you are local but not worth a special trip.

Blanchard's of Allston
www.blanchards.net
103 Harvard Ave
Allston, MA 02134
(617) 782-5588
Pretty good selection of everything wine and alcohol. Nice low key wine staff. Don't go on Saturday night or the college kids prepping to get boozed up will drive you nuts.

Kappy's
Route 1 North
www.kappys.com
Pretty good selection of everything. Not much help from the staff.

Federal Wine & Spirits Inc
www.federalwine.com
29 State St
Boston, MA 02109-2723
(617) 367-8605
Decent, but really not competitive with the other places a bit out of downtown.


The Wine Bottega
www.thewinebottega.com
341 Hanover St
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 227-6607
Good wine selection. A bit pricey. Not competitive with the other places a bit out of downtown.

Atlas wine and Spirits
(I know some of the bigger ones south of Boston have great selection).

Notes:

If you want to save $$ and make a big purchase it is hard to avoid a trip over the border to NH. Better prices at the NH State owned stores and some of the big ones have excellent selection.

Sadly, for liquor stores with serious selection and decent prices you really do have to get out of downtown Boston. Suburban and semi-suburban areas just have the real estate for bigger stores which generally (go figure) greater selection and lower prices.

Wine and booze selection don't correlate 100% but there is significant overlap. i.e. Gordon's in Waltham is one of the best wine stores (possibly the best) in Greater Boston but their booze selection is not that exciting. That said they just added a huge Belgian and Barleywine selection to their beers so... Also, Gordon's lost David Raines, their wine guy of many years departed recently to focus on importing, which has been his side business for many years. Sadly none of the other Gordon's staff even comes close to filling his shoes.

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  1. i really like the guys over at vinodivino in newton. i've tasted something new and different every time i've been in there. it's one of those places where you can tell them your likes/dislikes and they always seem to nail it. it's wine only though.

    5 Replies
    1. re: BoDubya

      VinoDivino is a little boutiquey place is it not? While those types of stores are fine, they are not really for the serious wine or cocktail person as the selection is just too limited and prices generally a good bit higher.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        go there - then decide. i haven't bought anything over $15. big is better doesn't always do it for me. i like the personal service that can be very lacking at larger stores. if you know everything there is to know about wine, then maybe this place isn't for you. i know what i like when i taste it, but that's about it.

        1. re: BoDubya

          I agree with BoDubya. I've been there a few times and always walked out with a nice bottle for ~15 bucks. It's geared for reasonably priced selections for the most part. Really nice owner too....very helpful and not snobby about buying "economy" wines.

          1. re: BoDubya

            I also like a smaller knowledgable retailer, and I'm willing to spend more money for the extra service and attention.
            Living close to the NH border, when I know what I want you can't beat NH State Liquor store for price and selection.
            When I visit my sister I usually stop at Busa Liquors on Mass Ave in Lexington. They seem to have a nice selction of wine at reasonable prices. Cigars too.

            1. re: Infomaniac

              I'm definitely a "serious wine person", and I actually buy a fair bit of wine at VinoDivino (despite living in Waltham).

              It's definitely a boutique with a business model designed to appeal to wealthy suburban yuppies. Most of their wines have been rated "90+ points" by one of the major wine reviewers, so it's ideal for people who want to find a good wine that won't embarrass them or has some snob appeal. Their selection is decent (no liquor) for a boutique, but prices are average to full retail (they do have a running discount for your prior purchases).

              Sounds like a place that wouldn't appeal to a knowledgeable wine lover, but I frequent them because they often have some interesting wines I can't find anywhere else. And it is a good place to pick up a bottle if you don't know much about a particular region and just want something the Wine Spectator/Wine Advocate has given a decent rating.

              899 Walnut Street
              Newton, MA 02461
              617-527-8466
              http://www.wineaccess.com/store/vinod...

      2. Rapid Liquors on Main Street in Stoneham. Very well merchandised and rock bottom prices. Best selection of wines under $10 I have ever seen anywhere.

        -----
        Main Street Cafe
        182 Main St, Marlborough, MA 01752

        5 Replies
          1. re: almansa

            My go to place . . .
            Also like East Gate Liquors (North Reading location)

            1. re: almansa

              Okay I was meeting a buddy in Winchester so I swung by the place.

              I have to be honest. A TOTAL disappointment. There selection is poor. Nothing out of the ordinary at ALL.

              All the wines are the most common, most mass-produced stuff out there. They had 3 different kinds of sherry. All bad. That's it.

              The selection of booze is just plain depressing. I mean they have 7 different rums, that's it. Almost nothing for mixing cocktails.

              The prices are not notably good.

              The place is just dingy and depressing.

              Half the places on the list above have far better price, selection and (something I don't care too much about) ambience.

              Sorry for such a harsh review, but just cannot see what you see in this place.

              If you have ever been to any of the places at the top of this thread you could not POSSIBLY include this place in the list. It might be your local, but I honestly can't believe I went 10 minutes out of my way to check this place out.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                Rapid's pricing for wine is generally good, but I agree their selection is mediocre. And if we are going to include "ambiance", no marks there for excellence. Was quite disappointed in their booze selection as well.

            2. Great list - three things I love about Federal are that it's across the street from me, they have frequent hard liquor tastings (I had what seemed like a half-tumbler sample of Octomore one day), and they seem to have the largest selection of single malts, whiskies, and other "brown liquors" despite their postage-stamp size. Definitely not cheap, though. The bad part is trying to work after an Octomore Big Gulp.

              Macy's on Centre Street in West Roxbury was quite good at one time, but I think their prices have crept up.

              Gary's on the VFW in West Roxbury is not cheap either, but they have a large selection of both wines and liquors.

              When I'm looking for cheap, especially on hard to find beers (large Belgian and British selection) I stock up at Super Phipps in Westfield, MA (my in-laws are out there). Their liquor selection isn't much to write home about.

              By the way, anyone know if any stores around here carry Sixpoint Cream Ale?

              17 Replies
              1. re: nsenada

                Not only does Federal have a great selection of scotch and bourbon, but Joe the whiskey guy really knows his stuff. He also works hard to get new bourbons up here from Kentucky, and uncommon malts from Scotland. I think the prices for single malts and small batch whiskey are quite good there compared to other stores in town, though I don't shop out in the suburbs.

                I like the wine guys there, too, they're very helpful regardless of price point. And their weekly tastings are great.

                1. re: erwocky

                  Federal is certainly a top shop. Just FYI on the bourbon front. Many of the "new" bourbon's are really just products of the marketing team at major distillers.

                  Two notable exceptions are Tuthilltown distillers in NY. Get a hand on some of their products if you can.

                  http://tuthilltown.com/

                  Also some of the Old Potrero products from the folks who make Anchor Steam beer are pretty tasty and unusual. Saw some of these recently in Boston, but can't remember where:

                  http://www.anchorbrewing.com/about_us...

                  As I said above, most of the "New" bourbons out there are just cooked up by marketing teams at the majors digging up some long lost name, applying a nostalgic label and bottle and appealing to our desire for old-timey hooch.

                  I could name a dozen of them, but Bulleit is a perfect example of this scenario is made by Diageo a MEGA distiller if ever their was one.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    I wouldn't call Diageo a distiller. They are just a company like InBev that owns a bunch of brands.

                    Bulleit bourbon is made by Bulleit Distilling Company in Kentucky, and Diageo just owns the brand, as they do Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Captain Morgan, etc.

                    Edit: I just learned from a friend who works for InBev that Bulleit is actuall made Four Roses Bourbon.

                    Does anyone know where I can get Rebel Yell Bourbon in the Boston area.

                    1. re: Infomaniac

                      My point is that the mega brand owning companies are essentially just booze factories. Most of them own several different distilleries and it is largely irrelevant to them where a brand is made, or who makes it.

                      The marketing guys come up with a brand concept, a label, a bottle and then they figure out which factory can make sufficient bottles to meet with the marketing plan.

                      The nostalgic old-timey shtick is just that. There is no old guy with a beard, sitting on his porch making your hooch.

                      I see Rebel Yell at various places around Boston. I will keep an eye out.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        You say this like we don't know it already.

                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                          I'm assuming that is the "Royal We" as I am fairly sure that not every hound reading this thread was aware of that fact. ;-)

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            I dunno, the faux-indie has a long and distinguished history in American commerce. I think it's always been fairly common knowledge that Knob Creek, Bookers, etc. are Jim Beam products, same way pretty much everyone who cares knows that Coors makes Blue Moon, and I don't think anyone who doesn't know already know this would be surprised to find out. But that's a topic for another thread.

                            -----
                            Blue Moon Restaurant
                            707 Western Ave, Lynn, MA 01905

                      2. re: Infomaniac

                        I saw Rebel Yell at Supreme Liquors in Central Square, which actually has a fairly extensive selection of bourbon (including Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, Blanton's, Basil Hayden...).

                        -----
                        Supreme Liquor
                        600 Massachusetts Ave, Lunenburg, MA 01462

                          1. re: skippy66

                            Thanks skippy....I stopped by the Plaistow, NH store tonight and picked up a bottle.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          Thanks for the recs. Some of the Old Potrero line I've certainly had, but Tuthilltown looks like a find. My point about Federal is they try to bring in stuff hard to find in MA (and thus "new" to me, like Clear Creek Distillery products), and I appreciate that.

                          1. re: erwocky

                            What do you like from Clear Creek?

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              I think the McCarthy's single malt "scotch" is fantastic. Lots of peat, but something quite different from a Lagavulin that I can't really put into words. Tried a couple of their eaux de vie a while ago and liked those (although I'm not a much of an aficionado).

                              http://clearcreekdistillery.com/whisk...

                              To keep this on-topic for Boston, Federal is having some problems getting this in stock lately.

                              1. re: erwocky

                                Aaaah that's right, I've heard of these guys. Gotta track some down.

                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                I just picked up some of the Clear Creek Douglas Fir liquer to make Tom fromCraigie's drink The Northern Lights from Marty's in Newton. Very nice. Their prices might not be the best, but I always find what I'm looking for at Marty's. I recently wanted to make a sazerac, and they were one of the few places I was able to find not only Sazerac brand Rye, but also Herbsaint.

                            2. re: StriperGuy

                              I've seen Old Potrero at both Martignetti's and Marty's within the last few months, though I don't normally peruse the spirits unless I'm buying, so I don't know what their current stocks are.

                            3. re: erwocky

                              What's the best place north of the city for malts - both variety and price ? (I've gotten some good bargains at the Heathrow duty-free, but it's a bit of a trek ;=)

                          2. Kappy's in Wellington Circle, Medford is huge. Prices good. There's a wine guy there that can be helpful, too.

                            1. Liquor Land at 1033 Massachusetts Ave in Boston has a good selection of liquors that you can't find elsewhere. Prices are average.

                              Gary's at 655 Vfw Pkwy always has some great deals. I go here regularly to see what's on sale, and I usually end up with a few bottles of liquor and wine. (I'll never forget when they had 4 packs of Samuel Smith for $1.99- but that was years ago.)

                              Wine Gallery - Pricey, but great selection and a great staff.

                              1. I've become a big fan of Liquor World in porter over the last year or two. Can't speak for the wine portion, only beer & spirits but they've done a great job ... great craft beer selection, an always growing collection of not-always-easy-to-find spirits, etc. Heck, they sell the bitter truth bitters (which they got in just a couple weeks after I spent all the shipping costs to get the whole lineup shipped to me from germany, argh!).

                                There's one guy in particular that seems to be behind the transition, it might be a few others, but not everyone that works there is particularly knowledgeable ... if you go in asking for say, punt e mes, they carry it but not everyone there knows what it is.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: jgg13

                                  Agreed on Liquor World -- for beer fans they are doing a great service. For instance they stock Dieu du Ciel beers from Montreal which seems rare around here.

                                  I work near Colonial Spirits in Acton and it is a regular stop for me. They have a thorough selection of world beers, especially Belgian, German and British in addition to U.S. and Canadian craft beers. Their prices are not the lowest, but the large space allows a broad range of items, for example exotic cordials and what looks to me like a decent range of bourbon, rye, etc. I'm not a wine person but they seem to have a decently large selection.

                                  -----
                                  Colonial Spirits
                                  87 Great Rd, MA 01720

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    I was pleasantly surprised to see that Liquor World carries Gekkakow vintage daiginjo sake, among an otherwise small/ unremarkable sake collection (the dessert sake they carry is not particularly good imho)

                                    1. re: jgg13

                                      Something else that's nice about Liquor World is that their prices are not only entirely reasonable, they're often a bit cheaper than some of my usual haunts (Marty's, Martignetti's, etc.). If I were in Porter Square more often, this would easily be my liquor store of choice.

                                    2. I love Bermans in Lexington for wine. They really seem to know their stuff there, and I believe they actually travel to different countries to find interesting wines.

                                      1. Having researched this extensively and concluded there is no ideal, one-stop shop but there are lots of great options, my two cents:

                                        For what they carry, the larger NH stores (like Nashua) are by far the best (e.g., Eagle Rare 750 ml for $21.99!)

                                        Cambridge Wine and Spirits is where I typically go first - fair (but not cheap) prices, broad/deep selection and helpful people with opinions (and even recipes) they are willing to share.

                                        Downtown Wine and Spirits in Davis Sq, Somerville should be added - plenty of metered parking nearby, great beer and pretty good alcohol selection - slightly high prices sometimes

                                        Atlas Liquors in Medford is shockingly large and well-stocked - have only been once but was impressed

                                        Marty's in Newton always seems to have higher prices than anywhere else for my needs (but it's great when they get something like that Luxardo holiday promotion pack...) and there is a lot to choose from.

                                        Brix on Broad St is pricey with limited selection, but carries GREAT stuff in terms of alcohol and will special order anything you want that MA distributors carry (e.g., Old Monk Rum) - super service and convenient if you work downtown

                                        Still searching for that great absinthe selection - any recommendations?

                                        22 Replies
                                        1. re: rlh

                                          Bin Ends on Wood Rd in Braintree is a great place to find wine.

                                          1. re: rlh

                                            No idea re absinthe, but Liquor World in Porter has Old Monk, and so does Libby's (?) - right next to Shalimar in Central Sq.

                                            1. re: Bluebell

                                              Do you recall the Old Monk prices? - probably much lower than Brix - glad to know of the alternatives - thanks!

                                              1. re: rlh

                                                $18 at Liquor World, and about the same at Libby's I think.

                                                1. re: Bluebell

                                                  Stopped by there on Saturday - it's now marked $32 on Old Monk! Brix was about $22 for the special - no thanks to Liquor World - insane pricing or a mistake? Liquor prices there in general seem higher than anywhere else I am aware of, including Brix downtown and Marty's in Newton, both of which are far more pleasant experiences, and the parking is a breeze at Marty's

                                                  1. re: rlh

                                                    What size Old Monk, 375 or 750 ML?

                                                    1. re: nsenada

                                                      750 in all cases - have you seen 375 - I'd be interested in that

                                                      1. re: rlh

                                                        Federal Wines - I think it was $16, though, so not a great deal (though convenient for me). I'll have to check out Brix downtown for the 750ml bottle.

                                                    2. re: rlh

                                                      Call me suggestible, saw some Old Monk at Sav Mor in fresh pond for $17.99 for 750ml and bot a bottle cause of this thread. Also bought a bottle of Black Balzam, had to try it...

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        That's a great deal. Just ran out of it myself, so may have to head out that way.

                                                        1. re: nsenada

                                                          There is a SavMor on McGrath on the Cambridge Somerville line (and next to Whole Foods in Medford) which will have the same sale prices on liquors. Its fairly easy access from downtown, except the Leverett Circle to Lechmere portion gets congested and shopping season at Cambridgeside doesn't help this because it can slow the alternate Cambridge St/Longfellow Bridge route. 93 and then Rt 28 S to the Twin Cities Plaza is yet another alternative. They also have more Marie Brizzard liquers/mixers in Somerville than the old Fresh Pond Store used to carry and a better Cachaca selection.

                                                          Striper, although its expensive now, they have some good sales on your preferred JB white and black from time to time, plus they had a really inexpensive Evan Williams white label a while back which was almost as good as the JB white. Always worth a peak in or at their sale prices.

                                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                                          If you don't mind me asking, why did you have to try the Balsams? I only ask because it is my ancestral liquor that I've been pushing on a few bartenders around town trying to get cocktail suggestions (btw, it makes a great replacement for Fernet in a Toronto...call it a Riga instead...).

                                                          They have a bottle at Deep Ellum and Max will make several interesting drinks with it.

                                                          1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                                            Does that make you Latvian? Cool. Dunno why I tried it. Think I read someone on chowhound mention it at Deep Ellum. Just looked interesting, had to give it a whirl.

                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                              It does...well, my folks being born there does, not simply drinking Balsams...

                                                              I would recommend it to people who like Fernet and other herbal liquors. Probably the Zwack from Hungry comes closest to what others on this board have discussed in terms of flavor profile.

                                                              And keeping with the topic, both Balsams and Zwack are available at the Blanchard's in Allston.

                                                            2. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                                              Tried the Balsams last night. Very interesting. Certainly similar to Fernet, Jager, etc. but very nice in it's own right.

                                                              I am not necessarily a fan of making cocktails with digestifs like these. I think they stand best on their own.

                                                              Had some last night after dinner and really enjoyed it.

                                                            3. re: StriperGuy

                                                              They have Old Monk for $14.99 at the Wild Duck on Salem St. in the North End as well as a great selection of Amaro, Vermouth, and small batch Whiskey and Gin. Also interesting wines and beer.

                                                              1. re: phatchris

                                                                I am sipping on the Old Monk on the rocks right now. That is an awesome bottle of rum. India, who knew. Sure it's origins have to do with the British Empire... will report back on the Balsams when I taste it.

                                                                I do like bitters and herbals so...

                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  Old Monk is good stuff, I first had it in a dark and stormy at Drink.

                                                                2. re: phatchris

                                                                  FYI - was pleasantly surprised to pick up 750 ml Old Monk for $14.99 at Martignetti on Soliders Field Road this weekend and 1.75 ml of Beefeater on sale as well ($23.99, I think...), but they really need to spiff up their vermouth options way beyond M&R and Stock!

                                                                3. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  Paid $18 for it (a few months ago) at that Porter Sq. plaza liquor store, which is a surprisingly good place.

                                                          2. re: Bluebell

                                                            Recently picked up some Barrilito 3 Star rum at the airport in San Juan, PR, and remembered just how good it is. I have seen the two star and occasionally the 3 in Boston (Martignetti's soldiers field rd maybe?). For the rum lovers on this thread, particularly the Old Monk fans you gotta get your hands on some of this stuff. It is a big, full bodied, barrel tasting (which I am not usually a fan of) rum. Unique and excellent.

                                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando...

                                                          3. re: rlh

                                                            Second the shout out for Brix - they stock Creme de Violette. Also, someone mentioned Macy's in WR. Not sure about price creep, but they have a solid liquor selections. Blanchard's in JP and WR both pretty good on the liquor front, with WR having a slight edge on the wine front. Gary's in WR, despite the expansion, has gone a little downhill on the liquor selection.

                                                          4. Price-wise, any liquor store in NH.

                                                            Liquor generally runs between $10-12 a bottle less than what I can get it for at my local store. And, you don't have to pay sales tax. Selection is good too, unless you want some obscure liquor from Kazakhstan. It's definitely worth the trip, especially with the holidays right around the corner.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: skippy66

                                                              I would say the hard booze selection at the NH stores is "OK", maybe "acceptable", but not "good". It doesn't have to be that obscure for me not to find something there. Otherwise, I do agree that the prices are good, and if the item is on sale, awesome. Still, given the cost of gas, it is only worth visiting if you're stopping in on the way to Vermont or Maine.

                                                              Charles St Liquors has some good beer. Not quite Downtown's (Somerville) selection, but good stuff for a fairly small store.

                                                              1. re: Alcachofa

                                                                On the spirits side though, I've found the Charles St crew to be fairly clueless. They have some decent stuff, but they're definitely more beer oriented (again, can't speak about wine, that's not my bag)

                                                                1. re: Alcachofa

                                                                  It may be that you have hit the wrong stores, as some have a wine specialty designation. The selection of the hard stuff and wine at the store on I-95 north exceeds anything that I have seen in MA.

                                                                  1. re: aadesmd

                                                                    I was referring to hard stuff, don't really go there for wine. Have not been to the I-95 store, but would like to hear what places you have been to in MA you are comparing it to. The I-93 store is quite large, so shelf space should not be an issue.

                                                                    1. re: Alcachofa

                                                                      Mainly Kappy's Medford, Blanchards, I think in Revere, and the RIP Marty's. I have to admit, I don't much of the hard stuff, but on my last visit the selection of single malts was stupendous.

                                                                      NB- They do not sell beer.

                                                              2. Bauer Wines and Liquors on Newbury Street Boston. Very savvy wine selection. Good phone and web service, and free delivery over $75.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: FoonFan

                                                                  I'm a big fan of Bauer Wine. Ed and I have learned so much from Howie and crew. We buy their samplers to edge ourselves out of our comfort zone where we buy too many of the same wines.

                                                                  They also feature good values in wine when you shop the specials.

                                                                2. David still writes for the Gordon's newsflash - at least as recently as last week.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: okra

                                                                    Yup, he writes for em, and still advises them, but does not spend any significant time in the store.

                                                                  2. For a great selection of wines and liquors at the best prices I have ever found anywhere in the Boston area try Rapid Liquors on Rte 28 (Main St.) in Stoneham. I have found that they are anywhere from $3.00 to $10.00 per bottle cheaper than most other places.

                                                                    1. Metrowest seems to be under-represented on this list, so let's mention a few words about Acton, a good town to buy wine in and also where Ruby lives. Colonial Spirits, Acton Wine & Spirits and Donelan's Supermarket each have their strengths. We like the French way: shopping for fresh food everyday, and find ourselves in Donelan's (http://www.donelans.com/departments-b... ) quite often. Kathy, the wine and beer manager, is friendly, knowledgeable and patient. She seeks out quality wines from small family owned wineries both here and abroad. Many Fridays you'll find reps from various wholesalers showing off their product at tastings. There's usually some cheese and prepared food from the deli department. Once, they served oysters on the half shell, forcing me to inflict a good strong pinch upon my very person. The oysters were still there, post-pinch. Space is limited and prices are fair but not "cheap." At this very moment, I'm enjoying a glass of Gouguenheim 2008 malbec (9.99 bottle). Time for a refill! Ciao.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Colonial Spirits
                                                                      87 Great Rd, MA 01720

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: rubysdad

                                                                        While we're in metrowest, I'll plug Post Road on route 30 in (i think) Wayland, for wine. Also Kappy's in Sudbury for the warehouse approach.

                                                                        1. re: jajjguy

                                                                          I'll put in a plug for Bacon's Spirits in Hudson. They have a good and varied selection of wine and beer (can't vouch for the hard stuff, it's there but I don't drink it). Their annual wine tasting (coming up mid-November) is always mobbed. Michael is their 'wine guy' and is a great resource to match people's preferences with the right wine.

                                                                      2. I should put in a plug for my local purveyor of booze, Ball Square Fine Wines and Liquors in Somerville. They used to be ridiculously undersized, but last month they expanded into the space next door. Good beer selection (not as extensive as Downtown Wine & Spirits in Davis Square, but nobody's is), wide range of good wines, extremely friendly and knowledgeable staff, wine and/or beer tastings every Friday night.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: ceo

                                                                          And a good-sized selection of Greek wines & liquors.

                                                                          1. re: ceo

                                                                            HUGE commendation to the staff at Ball, who were incredibly friendly and helpful as I was trying to hunt down their Farnum Hill Cider just as they were moving into the new space and hadn't finished unpacking yet. One staffer dropped what he was doing and dug through boxes to find what I wanted. The service was good enough that I'll go out of my way to stop there now.

                                                                          2. Wow, this thread has turned into quite the awesome resource. Will definitely check some of these places out. Thanks for contributing folks.

                                                                            1. How much I miss David Raines. He was ever so helpful at finding obscure wines at great prices and avoiding overoaked California fruit bombs. Not only are the present employees lacking in terms of David, they are getting into mass marketing and they are woefully ignorant of even basic wine issues.

                                                                              This may reflect the new generations of Gordon kids taking over the store. If you don't need help, the selection is still excellent. The newbies are probably buying what David has found in the past.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: aadesmd

                                                                                Gordon's has one guy now who is very experienced who has worked at 5-6 area wine stores over the years. Unfortunately he is a total snob, and has been asleep for 20 years, because if it does not come from France he has no interest. He also upsells mercilessly. If you say you want wines in the $10-20 range, every wine he presents you with is $19 to $23. David used to do the exact opposite showing me $12 gems that blew me away.

                                                                              2. I buy a lot of wine and these places have to be on the "Best Of" list (plus the aforementioned Marty's and Brookline):

                                                                                Gordon's Fine Wines & Liquors (flagship store)
                                                                                599 Moody St
                                                                                Waltham, MA 02453-0507
                                                                                (781) 894-2771
                                                                                http://www.gordonswine.com/

                                                                                ~One of the best selections of wine in Boston area. Also the fantastic new Wine & Culinary Center does a lot of interesting tastings, classes and even fun movie & wine events with food catered by next-door Il Capriccio. Highly recommend going to the "Sideways" showing, where you get to taste and discuss wines from the movie while you watch it!

                                                                                Costco Waltham
                                                                                71 Second Avenue
                                                                                Waltham, MA 02451
                                                                                (781) 622-3883

                                                                                ~2nd largest sales Costco wine department in the US. Selection isn't all that impressive, focusing on high-volume, big name wines (both cheap and expensive), but you will regularly see great names like Dominus, Caymus, Foley, Grand Cru Bordeaux, Beaucastel, etc. Their prices on most wines are 10-30% lower than you can find anywhere else in the area. In fact, very often they are the lowest prices in the US (at least before the recent sales tax change!). However, you do have to be careful (for example, the '05 d'Yquem they are selling now is way over-priced compared to what you can find over the Internet). Little known fact: by MA law, you do NOT have to be a Costco member to purchase wines & liquors. But the 2% cash back Executive Membership is worth it if you buy a lot of expensive wine.

                                                                                Berman's Wine and Spirits
                                                                                55 Massachusetts Avenue
                                                                                Lexington, MA 02420
                                                                                (781) 862-0515
                                                                                http://www.bermansfinewines.com/

                                                                                ~Knowledgeable, particularly strong selection of Italian wines, many of which you won't find anywhere else.

                                                                                While we are on the subject of Italian wines, there is a brand new boutique in Waltham:

                                                                                Vino Italiano
                                                                                248 Moody Street
                                                                                Waltham, MA 02453
                                                                                (781) 894-4488
                                                                                http://www.vinoitaliano.com/

                                                                                ~Only been there one time, but I believe they are owned by La Campania (hence the 100% focus on Italian wines). A very beautiful store, just how I would design a boutique wine shop. Can't say much about them at this point, since I was only there to quickly pick up a bottle of wine I had ordered via the Internet. But the '89 d'Yquem was priced at 1/2 what it was worth at auction (I'm wondering if La Campania is dumping some of their cellar at bargain prices? They had quite a selection of high-end non-Italian wines listed on the Internet, despite their Italian focus.).

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                                                                  I love the Wine Gallery. They have a lot of unique wines that are not sold everywhere, that are very good. I also love the wine jukebox, which has about 40 wines you can try before you buy them. It is kinda dangerous, because I can find many wines I like.
                                                                                  The beer selection is quite good too.

                                                                                  1. re: MtVernon

                                                                                    Wine Gallery's (Brookline location) beer selection used to be MUCH better before they stretched themselves too thin by opening the Kenmore and Dedham locations. I've pretty much written them off because I would go there only to find a lot of empty shelf space that was never being restocked. I used to shop for beer there once a week and watched their decline for awhile. Too bad because their beer manager is a great guy and I enjoyed supporting a local business.

                                                                                2. I really like Wine Gallery on Route 9. It is a little more expensive than a lot of the other mentioned, but most of the wines have a great price to quality ratio. The staff is really friendly and helpful and you can taste something like twenty wines before you buy.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: jgarnache

                                                                                    The best prices and very good selection is at The Ipswich Bottle Shop, Rt. 1A. They have many "2-fer $20" selections that simply can not be beat; comparable wines cost almost 25 - 40% elsewhere. Cash only or local check; I rarely buy wine or spirits anywhere else.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsofatso

                                                                                      I've got a buddy who loves that place and I always thought he was imagining things...

                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                        If you're up for a drive, the three Yankee Spirits stores are awesomely cheap and stocked. The one in Sturbridge has an amazingly huge wine department, with prices and selection that kill the NH stores, as well as any other MA store I've been to. The beer selection is above average, but not as great as, say, Julio's in Westboro.

                                                                                        EDIT: Didn't mean to add this to you, Striper.

                                                                                  2. What about Trader Joe's in Boston? We pass it on our way in, and always say we're going to stop on the way home....but i have no idea where exaclty it is and how to get there, only that we pass it while on the highway. Does anyone know? And do they sell wine?
                                                                                    Thanks! Maybe this trip we'll actually get there!

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Trader Joe's
                                                                                    1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: shopgirl

                                                                                      Which one? There's a ton of TJs in the BMA, but only a few sell beer and wine. (None sell liquor, although apparently some do on the west coast.)

                                                                                    2. Great thread! I missed it last month (my liver is gratefull!), so I'm glad it resurfaced.

                                                                                      I would add Wollaston Wines to the list. John Sano is a great resource on wine and will spend all sorts of time with you making recommendations in your price range--john@wollastonwines.com. And they have a great selection with reasonable prices.

                                                                                      My liquor cabinet has mostly the basics, so I cannot say how varied the liquor department is, but I know they have lots of it and it all looks good. :)

                                                                                      A bit further south I really like Lukes Liquors in Rockland, too. Big selection and terrific prices. Not aware that they have anyone there who advises folks the way John does at Wolly, but I may never have hit it at the right time. They have another (good, but not as big and varied) store in Plymouth, too.

                                                                                      1. "If you want to save $$ and make a big purchase it is hard to avoid a trip over the border to NH. Better prices at the NH State owned stores and some of the big ones have excellent selection"

                                                                                        Not so!!! I shop at several Mass Liquor stores for wine and you would be hard pressed to beat the prices and selection at Colonial Spirits in Acton or DL Liquors in Waltham for $10 and under wines. Consider a few wines I have bought lately like cassilero del diablo for 7.99 and santa rita 120 for 5.99 and guigal cotes de rhone for 8.99 and Monte Antico for 8.99 and various penfolds selections. Even with Mass. ridiculous and onerous sales tax added this past year, you still can come out on top in Mass. When NH had better case discounts(including sales items, they were hard to beat). They dont do that consistenly anymore

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: chassroc

                                                                                          You know, I was in NH lately and was not really that impressed myself... In short, I agree.

                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                            If and when they have the liquor (not wine) you are looking for on sale, it's a real deal - e.g., Eagle Rare bourbon for 21.99 per 750ml vs. $30+ everyone I've seen it in MA.

                                                                                            1. re: rlh

                                                                                              Yes, the wine prices rarely impress me, but I can consistently buy spirits there for $3-5 less than I would pay for them at Martignetti's or Marty's. I wouldn't make a special trip, but if I happen to be in NH anyway, it can be worth a stop.

                                                                                            2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                              I've found that w/ the NH stores I have to do a fair amount of legwork. Some things can be a huge bargain, others not so much.

                                                                                          2. Vintages, out in West Concord, is the best selection I've ever seen in the Boston area. Prices are a tad high (maybe 10% more than typical MA retail) but the selection is astounding, especially in Italians and Burgundy.

                                                                                            Their Pinot rack basically consists of Chevillon (from generic Bourgogne to his LSG), Mugneret (from generic Bourgogne to her GC's), Hubert Lignier, Kistler and Belle Pente. Plenty of wines from great importers like Kermit Lynch and Neal Rosenthal. Even some interesting half-bottles: last time I was there, they had halves of Domaine Tempier, out of Bandol.

                                                                                            I wouldn't go in there wanting to spend less than $20, but for mid-high end stuff it blows away the other places I've been to (BLM, Martignetti, Gordons, Bermans, VinoDivino (which is a joke), Blanchards and Martys)

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: dzop

                                                                                              VinoDivino is definitely not a joke. Not a huge selection, but they often have unusual wines that you can't find anywhere else in Boston. Yes, it is a very yuppified business model (hey, it is Newton!) and everything is 100% full retail (although they do give a cumulative discount, not just a case discount), but I have snagged some great wines there that no one else had.

                                                                                              1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                                                                                to be clear; any wine store can order anything that is available in Mass from the wholesalers. There are some items that are strictly allocated and can be difficult to get, but these are usually expensive such as the 2007 Dominus that cost about 120 per bottle. Otherwise, any liquor store can order anything that is available from the wholesalers. That does not mean that Vino Divino does not know wine better than the wine people at other stores and thus is worth it just from the perspective of showing where there is value. And it is possible that they get large allocations of highly desireable wines (though i doubt that.)

                                                                                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                                  Yes and no. We are thinking about different classes of wines.

                                                                                                  Many wines are produced or imported in very small quantities, say <200-400 cases, (some wines have as few as 10-20 cases imported, although I doubt VinoDivino would be a good source for such super rare wines) imported for the entire US. Although these are obviously relatively "rare" wines, they are not big names. We are talking about smaller, artisanal producers.

                                                                                                  The effect of these small quantities is that they will be divided across the entire US, a few states or even a single state (depending on the importer involved). So the amount available in MA may be completely distributed by the time you get around to asking your retailer to order it (and not being big names, such wines are much less likely to appear in the secondary markets).

                                                                                                  I'm not saying that VinoDivino is the only place that has some of these interesting wines. In fact, they are almost certainly not the best source, being a small single store (although I've heard they are opening a second story, which must mean they are doing something right, given this economy) that focus only on wines that get 90+ scores in WS/WA/IWC (as I said, designed to appeal to Newton yuppies!). Gordon's, Marty's, etc will have their own unique selections, undoubtedly much larger, and some of those may also not be available anywhere else even if you try to order them. I'm just saying that I've been happy to find a handful of interesting wines at VinoDivino that no one else could get for me, so I always kept an eye on their new arrivals. They wouldn't be my first choice for most wines, since their prices tend to be somewhat higher and their selection is small.

                                                                                                  A (non-VinoDivino) example would be 2004 Massa Vecchia Aleatico, a $60/375mL red dessert wine produced by a tiny, ox-drawn plow, organic winery in Maremma Italy. The only US importer is Jeannie Rogers' (formerly of Il Capriccio, Waltham fame) company, and only Gordon's next door had a small allocation (I suspect the rest went into Il Capriccio's cellar and it might still be on their wine list so try it!). And I bought a big chunk of what Gordon's had (although if you look closely they might still have a couple of bottles left in the back of their dessert wine shelf). Although in the past year I think Jeannie has been getting the word about about Massa Vecchia (I've seen their dry reds and whites in Formaggio and Central Bottle), this wine has never been reviewed by anyone, and even a hard-core wine geek would only know about it from Il Capriccio's wine list. Good luck finding it anywhere else, even if you ask Marty's to order it.

                                                                                                  And, IMO, Dominus is hardly a rare, highly allocated wine. They make 5-7000 cases/year (60,000-84,000 bottles). I've bought it at Costco in Waltham! The 2007 is still on the shelf at 100s of places around the country, including at least one I know of in MA. But it is a great wine (unlike a lot of those big name, high volume, $100+ Napa cabs!). Please think of me when you are drinking it. ;-)

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Il Capriccio
                                                                                                  888 Main St., Waltham, MA 02453

                                                                                                  Central Bottle
                                                                                                  196 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115

                                                                                                  1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                                                                                    2007; that will be a while; yes, it is still available here in mass.

                                                                                              2. re: dzop

                                                                                                I've never been to Vintages, but I have to wonder about their having the "best selection" overall. Marty's lists 5 times as many wines online as they do. Whether they have the best selection of Burgundy, I don't know (and don't drink it).

                                                                                                Don't ask why I'm carrying on a conversation with a post from a year ago on a board for a state I don't even live in anymore...

                                                                                              3. Hi, all,

                                                                                                I want to revive this thread: I've recently started getting serious about my home mixing, and I'm looking for places (ideally reasonably priced?) to buy ingredients. I've done really well at the Boston Shaker buying bitters (great selection!) and tools, and I've found some good bourbons, but I'm striking out on liquer, vermouth, and even some base spirits. Here's a subset of my shopping list:
                                                                                                * Rittenhouse Rye (should be really easy to find!)
                                                                                                * Chartreuse, green + yellow
                                                                                                * Cocchi Americano
                                                                                                * Punt e Mes
                                                                                                * Dolin blanc
                                                                                                * Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau de Vie
                                                                                                * Benedictine
                                                                                                * a decent absinthe
                                                                                                * a decent mezcal

                                                                                                Any advice, Boston?

                                                                                                Thanks!

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                The Boston Shaker
                                                                                                69 Holland Street, Somerville, MA

                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: neatlynoted

                                                                                                  Take a chance on Wine Emporium at the corner of Columbus and West Newton in the South End. You should find almost all the stuff on your list (including the Clear Creek, where I got my 2nd bottle of the stuff, the 1st being a gift) except for the Rittenhouse. That rye seems readily available to bars and restaurants but not quite so easy to find at retail; that said, you can find other good ryes about town, including Sazerac, Redemption and the excellent Bulleit. I was at Wine Emporium today intending to get Punt e Mes, instead I picked up on the Vermut Rojo Lacuesta from Spain, sherry-like and exquisite in a manhattan, at a very attractive price point. The spirit selection there is very good, and the guys there know their stuff.

                                                                                                  My other go-to for cocktail fixings is Bauer on Newbury, which has a well-considered selection and knowledgeable staff. My first allspice dram, creme violette, akvavit, green Chartreuse all bought there. It was the first place I went to when I started getting into mixing drinks, and I'm grateful for the help of Howie and his associates over the years.

                                                                                                  1. re: neatlynoted

                                                                                                    I think Martignetti's has all of the above.

                                                                                                    1. re: nsenada

                                                                                                      Pretty sure Wine Cask has all of the items listed as does Marty's in Newton - prices generally less at Wine Cask (and they have a very handy 200 ml Green Chartreuse behind the register, BTW)

                                                                                                      1. re: rlh

                                                                                                        If they don't have the Clear Creek Douglas Fir, they can order it--which is what I did a couple years ago.

                                                                                                        1. re: rlh

                                                                                                          to repeat myself; anything can be ordered for you by any liquor store; when i want something special, i ask the people at the Wine Cask to get it for me. Usually, unless the item is strictly allocated, the cask gets if for me. But if you have a good relationship with people at Marty's, Blanchard's, et al; they will do the same for you.

                                                                                                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                                            Doesn't it depend on their distributor? When I order something at Wine and Cheese Cask, they open a big book and see if my item is on their list.

                                                                                                            1. re: hckybg

                                                                                                              No, in MA any liquor store has access to any product that is distributed in the entire state.

                                                                                                            2. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                                              While true that if it is in MA you have a chance of getting it, but the problem is that the harder to find wines are already allocated long before the get to the state. Distributers put things in the book a while before they actually get them because they want to get the items set-up in their system. The new vintage of Petrus is actually listed in the book. The odds of that wine being available are slim to none (I tried for a customer).

                                                                                                              1. re: jgarnache

                                                                                                                Thank you for the statement of the incredibly obvious.

                                                                                                                This discussion was not about highly allocated Bordeaux wines, but about generally available liquor and liqueurs.

                                                                                                                It is fairly obvious that any item which is in short supply will be in well... short supply.

                                                                                                        2. re: neatlynoted

                                                                                                          On the Rittenhouse Rye. Impossible to find. There is a huge rye shortage right now and this has become a highly allocated item (I am now in the industry). We had supported this brand for years and only got a 12 bottle allocation for the year.

                                                                                                          1. re: jgarnache

                                                                                                            Martignetti's has had it every time I've gone in, though they didn't have it at Liquor Land, despite having probably the largest selection of ryes I've ever seen.

                                                                                                            1. re: nsenada

                                                                                                              From what our supplier said, a single restaurant bought almost all of the last shipment and there will not be another for quite some time. If you can find it on a shelf somewhere i would pick it up.

                                                                                                          2. re: neatlynoted

                                                                                                            The places mentioned in the OP and the rest of the thread are still valid recs which you can't have checked out if you haven't been able to find the things you mentioned. I do have a couple specific things I've noticed based on what you're looking for, though.

                                                                                                            Absinthe selection is pretty limited even at the better stores, with Lucid and Kubler often the best you can do. Cambridge Wine & Spirits has St George's, as do a couple of other places. I went out to Julio's in Westborough and picked up some Vieux Carre absinthe which I have been pleased by. Julio's is out of the way, but is huge and has a good selection.

                                                                                                            Martignetti's on Soldier's Field Road has pretty good prices compared to a lot of other stores around town, and should have most of the things you want except mezcal and a better selection of absinthe.

                                                                                                            Marty's in Newton has the Del Maguey mezcals, which I think most other stores don't carry. Marty's probably has most of the other things you are looking for as well, but their regular prices tend to be a few dollars more than Martignetti's.

                                                                                                            Liquor World in Porter has a good selection for a small shop, and is a good bet if you are limited to taking the T. Some of their prices are kind of high. If I remember right they also have St George's absinthe.

                                                                                                            Rittenhouse Rye is all about timing and getting to the store just after they get a shipment. Otherwise it will not be easy to find at all.

                                                                                                          3. Speaking of such things, has anybody perused the liquor section at the Wegmans in Northborough yet? Price, selection, etc.?

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                              I've checked out Wegman's a few times. Meh. Very limited selection and prices aren't really that great. If they just focused on wine and beer, they could probably do a better job. As it is, they don't even carry many of my favorite beers (no Dogfish 90 min IPA!!). The space just isn't enough to carry a great selection and be competitive price-wise. If you are there and need to pick up something to have with dinner, you would probably find something that would work, but I wouldn't go out of my way to head out there.

                                                                                                            2. Cambridge Wine & Spirits has been my reference for many ( 20+) years, though not cheap. Even though I rarely shop there anymore, many of the staff remember me quite well. Sav-Mor on 16 in Medford (next to Whole Foods) has a good beer selection, and good prices on their decent booze selection. No boutique, and despite a rather weak wine selection, it balances out well in the Price / Selection / Convenience equation for me. Second the vote for Atlas in Medford. I'm more of a Bourbon guy than single-malt, and I value a good selection of cheap stuff ( no plastic bottles please). The place closest to me with the best price on Bombay Blue Sapphire tends to get a good amount of my business. Eff NH and Eff Trader Joes.

                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                              Cambridge Wine & Spirits
                                                                                                              202 Alewife Brook Pkwy, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                                                                              1. As an FYI, I saw Wine Gallery is opening again in Brookline. A coming soon sign is up on the empty space next to CVS on the corner of Cyprus and Washington. That space has been vacant for many years because CVS leased the whole building but couldn't get the permit to occupy all the space. They eventually lost a court case and I gather they've decided - maybe with the landlord - to lease that out. They'll have to move the big CVS sign; it's above the empty space Wine Gallery is taking.

                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                Wine Gallery
                                                                                                                516 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                                                                1. Please, Please, Please, let's try to convince Total Wine to come to the Boston area. This area is frustrating, very frustrating.

                                                                                                                  1. I have to disagree on the comment about the Marty's staff. I am on their email list and frequently jump on the $150 or less cases and the staff are very honest with their comments/recommendations on these wines.

                                                                                                                    1. Burlington Wine and Spirits in Middlesex Commons (Market Basket shopping plaza) in Burlington has an excellent craft beer selection. I can't speak for their wine selection/prices/knowledge, but the size of selection of their craft beers is one of the best in the area.

                                                                                                                      I also like that much of their selection is refrigerated. They probably have 12-15+ coolers dedicated to craft beer, in addition to significant shelf space. One downside is they don't seem to have many beers by the case.

                                                                                                                      They are also extremely friendly and willing to order things that they don't have on hand. Great addition to the area.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: rshock

                                                                                                                        They also have great prices on wine.

                                                                                                                      2. For a good selection of liquor and beer (their wine selection might be fine too, I am just not a connoisseur of wine), at really good prices, I haven't found anything that beats Atlas in Medford. The staff know their stuff, at least the few times I've had questions.

                                                                                                                        1. Have any Hounds checked out the beer selection at Albert's Market on Cambridge Street in East Cambridge? I got sent there by someone knowlegable and was truly blown away. I admittedly made my first purchase behind a man who may or may not have been homeless who was picking up a six pack of Bud Heavy tall boys, but seriously it's a great store. Remarkably well curated for a random convenience store.