What a time to be alive. In today’s boozy renaissance, hitting up the best liquor stores in Austin means we can eschew low quality hooch for top-notch booze like Japanese gin, small-batch rye and bergamot liqueur. The next time you want to reproduce that seven-ingredient concoction you had at one of Austin’s best speakeasies (there’s a phrase we never thought we’d utter) or cocktail bars, or relax with a single malt scotch you tried at a local whiskey bar, there’s a liquor store close by with an array of spirits. And if you fancy yourself a wine or beer person, these well-rounded shops are also stocked with limited release craft beer, Old World wines and everything in between.
Best liquor stores in Austin
Connoisseurs and novices alike flock to the Austin Shaker, a bartender-centric shop known for their expertly curated selection of spirits, wine and beer. Not only that, but it’s a great place to educate yourself: A trip to the Shaker always includes browsing the collection of books, bar-approved tools and one-of-a-kind vintage glassware—all for sale, of course. Both Kirstyn Litchfield and David Maguire have spent the better part of the last 20 years either bartending or managing bars (including stints at Odd Duck, The Cloak Room and Easy Tiger) and wanted to create a store that catered to bar industry folks as well as enthusiasts. While you can find high-end whiskeys as varied as Willett Pot Still Reserve and Compass Box Spicetree Extravaganza, the Austin Shaker also prides itself on their considerable selection of bitters as well as Amari, vermouth, rum, liqueurs and mezcal.
Whether you’re considered the somm of your friend group or responsible for keeping your local Whole Foods restocked in two-buck chuck, the Austin Wine Merchant has a bottle with your name on it. It would be an understatement to say that the staff merely knows wine; John and his team have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of regions, grapes, tasting notes, vineyards and winemakers as well thoughtful pairing advice. Expect an extensive selection of Old and New World wines and Champagne, along with a discerning liquor selection that includes hard-to-find mezcals. Austin Wine Merchant has a loyal customer base that flocks to the shop on Wednesdays and Saturdays for tastings with experts.
You've probably passed by Beverage World plenty of times; it’s found on the I-35 access road next door to beer and Indian food hangout, Whip In. While the exterior may be modest, the treasure trove of unique and hard-to-find spirits, wines and beers inside is unbelievable. Owner Rohit Topiwala started buying beer and wine for Whip In in 1993 and after noticing that many customers were asking for liquor, seized the opportunity to open Beverage World in 2003 when the adjacent space was up for lease. Rohit was joined by Eric Pelegrin, former chef at Chez Nous, who serves as the shop's wine buyer. Beverage World is revered amongst both connoisseurs for their ability to secure exceptional bottles and by neighborhood residents as the place to stop and grab a bottle of limited edition craft beer, rosé and even of-the-moment natural wine.
Twin Liquors has a long history in Austin: The first store opened in 1937 under the name "Jabours Package Store” on the corner of Congress Avenue and Sixth Street. Fast forward to today, and the brand has exploded with 80 stores in Austin and Central Texas. While each store has its own personality, what’s found across the board is a hearty selection of favorite brands of wine, beer and spirits, including hand-picked options that are limited and seasonal. Twin Liquors Marketplace South Lamar, their largest Austin store to date, launched late last year. This location features a classroom-style enclave with communal tables, a central tasting bar with a wine dispensing unit, a vast selection of craft spirits and esoteric wines, cigar humidor and Twin's largest walk-in beer cooler.
South Lamar Wine & Spirits is easy to spot—just look for the massive neon sign. The store is recognized by both the bar industry and locals for its extensive inventory, as well as its weekly release of limited and rare bottles, typically bourbon, Scotch and mezcal. Those who follow South Lamar Wine & Spirits’ social media accounts are not only notified when the good stuff is available but also get first dibs. The shop boasts over 1,500 beers, 6,400 types of wine and a staggering (almost) 9,000 different liquors. While a selection of this size can be overwhelming, owner Pete and his staff are happy to guide and recommend. Pro tip: Every Monday, mezcals are 10% off, and the shop offers same-day delivery.
A Clarksville booze institution, Wiggy’s expanded from a single, diminutive shop to adding a climate-controlled vault for vintage wines and walk-in humidors and a second location on Lamar. Open since 1973 and found directly across the street from Clark’s Oyster Bar, the liquor store has a charm that’s hard to find, from its creaky floors to the friendly staff who offer honest and informed recommendations. When it comes to booze, Wiggy’s has a more focused, streamlined approach, offering core selections and a commitment to regularly adding new products so that each visit reveals discoveries. This convenient neighborhood shop is ideal for trying out a new spirit brand, restocking your go-to and for grabbing a chilled bottle on your way to a get-together.
Found next door to Nickel City on the Eastside, J & J Spirits is a cozy neighborhood liquor store with a small but respectable selection of bottles. Don’t expect to find rows of wine or coolers full of beer (although 'hood favorites can be found)—this shop focuses on spirits. The most notable liquors are single-barrel whiskeys selected by Nickel City partner Travis Tober. Of the bottles emblazoned with Nickel City badges, we’re especially fond of the High West Double Rye, Old Scout 107 and Elijah Craig Small Batch. J & J also carries other unique products like Nikka Japanese whisky and Gem & Bolt mezcal infused with damiana, an ancient herb with aphrodisiac qualities.