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Where should I head to re-stock my bar?

Russian Aug 29, 2011 01:45 PM

Just moved back to Cambridge after a year out of town, and am rebuilding my bar. Need to pick up some basics for cocktails in particular (gin, green chartreuse, etc). A wide well-priced wine selection would be a bonus, but not essential, as getting various cocktail ingredients is the main priority right now.

Am I better off going to NH, on-line, or to the stores in this thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/665147) for this? Never been to the NH booze stores and don't own a car, so wanted to check before I get the zipcar.

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  1. g
    Gabatta RE: Russian Aug 29, 2011 02:04 PM

    I live in Cambridge and would head to Martignettili's on Soldiers Field Road. The wine can be hit or miss unless you know what you are looking for, but they have the best alcohol selection IMO. Blachard's in Brighton is a good option, as is Cambridge Wine & Spirits in Fresh Pond (though I find them a bit more expensive for certain items).

    I don't think a NH run is worth it unless you need to be there for something else already.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gabatta
      StriperGuy RE: Gabatta Aug 29, 2011 02:15 PM

      Yah agree with the Martignetti's rec.

      Marty's in Newton has a massive booze selection, probably the best in the area but Martingetti's might have a slight edge on price.

    2. e
      emannths RE: Russian Aug 29, 2011 02:06 PM

      You can view the selection and prices available at the NH State stores online at http://www.liquorandwineoutlets.com/

      You can also save a few bucks by shopping at Costco in Waltham. You don't need a membership to buy alcohol. As with everything Costco, their selection of wine and spirits is limited, so if you have specifics in mind, it's best to call them and see if they have it.

      8 Replies
      1. re: emannths
        lergnom RE: emannths Aug 29, 2011 06:18 PM

        And many of Costco's liquor bottles are oversized.

        I like the NH liquor stores for both wine and liquor. They often have sales on single malt scotches, etc.

        Locally, Martinetti's has the best prices. I've checked a lot of stores. They have a wide selection of liqueurs.

        1. re: lergnom
          StriperGuy RE: lergnom Aug 30, 2011 07:03 AM

          I find the NH stores selection to be pretty limited particularly on the liquor front. They have the big brands, and decent scotch, but that is about it.

          Contrast a place like Marty's or even Martignetti's and the NH selection is a bit thin.

          1. re: StriperGuy
            Gabatta RE: StriperGuy Aug 30, 2011 08:40 AM

            Even on the scotch front, yes they have some good bottles at good prices. However they never seem to carry some of the specific bottles I like, while I know the local places will either have it or get it for me.


            1. re: StriperGuy
              lergnom RE: StriperGuy Aug 30, 2011 09:14 AM

              I agree, but they sometimes have great prices. Their wine selection is better than liquor.

              Here's how I use the NH stores: if I'm in the area, I stop and see what's there and what's on sale. I don't make a special trip.

              As for Costco, they sell some nice wine - they're the largest wine seller in the US - but the liquor selection isn't worth the time.

              1. re: lergnom
                Alcachofa RE: lergnom Aug 30, 2011 09:53 AM

                Even though NH's prices can be good, I've never seen them so good as to be worth renting a zipcar, or even making a special trip with your own car. I do shop there when I am driving through NH, though. But a special trip? Not worth.

                I would recommend the zipcar to Martignetti's.

                1. re: Alcachofa
                  Allstonian RE: Alcachofa Aug 30, 2011 09:57 AM

                  Seconded on both points.

              2. re: StriperGuy
                nickls RE: StriperGuy Aug 30, 2011 09:23 AM

                However, whisk(e)y in particular tends to be considerably less expensive in NH, so if you are planning to buy a bunch of bottles, it may become worth it especially if you can find one of the periodic coupons for $10 off and/or combine the trip with doing something else up that way. Yes their selection is lacking in certain areas but they do have some good stuff. And going when what you want is on sale also helps.

                For example, Eagle Rare 10 and Buffalo Trace are often available for around $20 in NH while many places in MA charge $30, Woodford Reserve is currently $28 in NH and generally $35-40 around here.

                I like Liquor World too, but some of their prices are really high.

                1. re: nickls
                  StriperGuy RE: nickls Aug 30, 2011 10:53 AM

                  I did have one AMAZING bargain there. Bacardi was there and with a $50 purchase you got a $50 rebate on Bacardi, Martini and Rossia, and I forget what other products.

                  My comment was: free booze, okay, I'll do that!

          2. j
            jajjguy RE: Russian Aug 29, 2011 03:49 PM

            As you're in Cambridge without a car, I suggest you check Liquor World in Porter Sq. One of the best selections of booze anywhere, very impressive for a small store. Lots of bitters too. And good prices, though not the very best. Also great beer, and fair wine.

            4 Replies
            1. re: jajjguy
              StriperGuy RE: jajjguy Aug 29, 2011 06:02 PM

              Point well taken, though Blanchard's in Allston is also car free.

              1. re: StriperGuy
                Allstonian RE: StriperGuy Aug 30, 2011 09:23 AM

                True, but I (for one) haven't shopped at the Allston Blanchard's since the Puppy Stomping Incident, even though it's right in my neighborhood.

                1. re: Allstonian
                  Jenny Ondioline RE: Allstonian Aug 30, 2011 11:48 AM

                  Details on the Puppy Stomping Incident here:


                  Blanchard's is by some distance the closest liquor store to our house, but as long as John Corey owns it, I don't care if it burns to the ground with him inside.

                  Marty's Big Lots (North Beacon in Brighton) doesn't actually have much cheaper prices than the parent store -- most bottles I buy there are the same price at both -- but it's pretty well-stocked for liquors, and arguably more convenient if you live in the city. I join the chorus who say that Martignetti's is overall your best bet, though.

              2. re: jajjguy
                chickendhansak RE: jajjguy Aug 30, 2011 08:45 AM

                Downtown in Davis Square is a useful adjunct to Liquor World for the car-free. They have more space and more beer, though I tend to be in Liquor World more often as it's closer to me.

              3. g
                Guinness02122 RE: Russian Aug 30, 2011 12:41 PM

                Might be worth the Zipcar to go to Julio's Liquor's in Westborough.

                Julio's Liquors
                140 Turnpike Rd, Westborough, MA 01581

                1 Reply
                1. re: Guinness02122
                  trufflehound RE: Guinness02122 Aug 30, 2011 04:58 PM

                  Not on price. They have a large inventory but not the least expensive.

                2. m
                  mmocpi RE: Russian Aug 30, 2011 02:00 PM

                  I would head straight to Marty's on 103 North Beacon Street in Allston (near Stop and Shop). Not the Newton one, the Allston one. Cheapest liquor prices around and very wide selection.

                  More info at http://www.yelp.com/biz/martys-big-bu...

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mmocpi
                    StriperGuy RE: mmocpi Aug 30, 2011 05:23 PM

                    Nah, their selection is VERY spotty. Some bargains, some not, not at all comprehensive.

                    They have very little in the way of liquers. There Scotch selection is VERY thin. The vodka selection is just plain weird.

                    The rums leave out many classics.

                    Tequila is also VERY limited.

                    Where else do you shop that you consider this "the place to go."

                    Also their prices are NOT that good across the board.

                    1. re: StriperGuy
                      mmocpi RE: StriperGuy Aug 30, 2011 05:29 PM

                      I'll do some research soon and report back - maybe specifics will convince you. I shop all over the place but have found, of late, that this Marty's is doing the best for me. Well, it can't beat the beer bargains at Hurley's but ... he's talking about stocking a bar so I was assuming liquors.

                      1. re: mmocpi
                        StriperGuy RE: mmocpi Aug 31, 2011 06:27 AM

                        They have some stuff at good prices not doubt, I just got a 1.75 of 1800 anejo tequila there for $34.99, which is awesome.

                        1. re: StriperGuy
                          mmocpi RE: StriperGuy Aug 31, 2011 06:39 AM

                          $34.99 is their St. Germain price, too. Cheapest around (at least in the city). And I'll get some more examples in here soon but you see what I mean.

                  2. p
                    pasuga RE: Russian Aug 30, 2011 07:16 PM

                    Two places to check out . The small store attached to the Star Market in Allston/Brighton on Western Ave. Their prices for hard liquor are generally a couple dollars less per bottle than you'll see in town. The other is the liquor store on the O'Brien Highway heading away from town - it's on the right about half a mile from the Storrow Drive/O'Brien intersection. Haven't been there for a couple years but I remember their prices were always better than in town. I don't know how the prices compare to Martignettii's.

                    This is not germane to the discussion but I have a wonderful memory from way back in the seventies. My family was driving from NJ to Lake Winnepesaukee for our annual vacation and Dad stopped at the first state store off Rt. 93 to stock up. Both Julia Child and Henry Fonda were in the store. Julia apparently didn't mind driving an hour back and forth to save $ and Henry Fonda was on his way north to film "On Golden Pond."

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: pasuga
                      Dea RE: pasuga Aug 31, 2011 09:07 AM

                      You're thinking of Sav-Mor Liquors on O'Brien - it was my go-to when I lived over that way. Great prices and an interesting, if not comprehensive inventory in wine and beer.

                      1. re: Dea
                        StriperGuy RE: Dea Aug 31, 2011 02:54 PM

                        I was over there last year and was not impressed by the price or the selection. And the place was a depressing dump.

                        1. re: StriperGuy
                          Northender RE: StriperGuy Aug 31, 2011 02:59 PM

                          amen to that!

                          1. re: StriperGuy
                            Dea RE: StriperGuy Sep 1, 2011 08:40 AM

                            That's too bad - it was always a dump but I did get pretty good deals there back in the day (pre Oct 2008).

                            1. re: StriperGuy
                              ac106 RE: StriperGuy Sep 3, 2011 02:52 PM

                              The funny thing is you visited AFTER their big renovation.... as bad as it is now, it was 10x worse before

                        2. c
                          cambridgedoctpr RE: Russian Aug 31, 2011 03:01 PM

                          i like the wine and cheese cask in somerville, on the cambridge line. They are currently having their quarterly sale which can get you a 20% discount on wine though i am not sure how it affects hard liquor. you can call them and ask. You may be able to get there via bus from harvard square; i think that you can use the internet to time your trips there and back again if you have a smart phone.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                            Dea RE: cambridgedoctpr Sep 1, 2011 08:43 AM

                            Right! Forgot about that. You can sign up for their monthly newsletter which lists their wine finds and deals. Very dangerous spot though, what with the excellent cheese and pate counter, and small selection of olives, nuts, bread (basically all my major food and drink groups). I miss that place - need to visit soon!

                            Oh and the 86 bus from Harvard Square will take you there. The "Catch the Bus" app will help you do it.

                            1. re: Dea
                              Gabatta RE: Dea Sep 1, 2011 09:18 AM

                              The Cask is good for reasonable wines. However their alcohol selection is somewhat limited and priced on the high side for the OPs primary objective.

                          2. atg106 RE: Russian Sep 3, 2011 06:06 AM

                            I'd like to put a vote in for Gordon's Fine Wines in various locations, but the one in Waltham (894 Main Street, Waltham) is quite big and the managers are quite knowledgable in Scotches, Whiskeys, and Rums.

                            They tout prices lower than the NH border, and you'll definately save in the cost of going there.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: atg106
                              StriperGuy RE: atg106 Sep 3, 2011 12:29 PM

                              I find them not as strong on booze (perhaps they've gotten better as I haven't been in a year or so), but they are my favorite wine store, period.

                            2. r
                              Reverend30 RE: Russian Sep 3, 2011 06:48 PM

                              I always like Downtown in Davis Square, but my primary reason in posting is to LOL at the idea of green chartreuse as a "bar basic". Bijous?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Reverend30
                                StriperGuy RE: Reverend30 Sep 4, 2011 04:26 PM

                                I agree. I have a hard core bar at home and have no need for the stuff.

                              2. c
                                cherrytomato RE: Russian Sep 4, 2011 06:13 AM

                                I love Marty's. They always have an excellent supply of wine, spirits and hard to find items. They also have great items to garnish your drinks with. They have these bloody Mary stirrers that are a toothpick with a pickle, olive, onion and pepper on them.

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