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Nov 6, 2009 06:04 AM

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
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
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
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.

Route 1 North
Pretty good selection of everything. Not much help from the staff.

Federal Wine & Spirits Inc
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
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).


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

      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.


                  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:


                  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).


                              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.