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The best liquor stores in New York

In the market for a rare bottle of cognac or a cheap handle of gin? The best liquor stores in New York have got it all.

Bottlerocket
Photograph: Jena Cumbo Bottlerocket Wine + Spirit
By Jennifer Picht and Leah Faye Cooper |
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So you missed the best happy hours. New York is still a great place to find good booze, especially since it’s tough to walk more than a few blocks without passing liquor stores. Many of them do just fine serving the passersby en route to a party or offering a cheap alternative to pricey cocktails at the best bars in NYC. But collectors and spirit enthusiasts might turn their nose up at such “luxuries,” which is why we’ve singled out the liquor stores that go the extra mile with exceptional service and extensive collections of rare bottles, from Irish whiskey to tequila. Whether you’re interested in a quick-stop shop for cheap alcohol or an old-timey store that offers tastings and pairings, these liquor stores are worth the trip.

The best liquor stores

Shopping, Liquor stores

Best Wine Selection: Astor Wines + Spirits

icon-location-pin Greenwich Village

This wine and spirits emporium has been serving the ‘hood for many years, and now also holds special classes and demonstrations at the upstairs Astor Center, but the main draw here is the super-low prices and er, the absinthe. On top of that, the service (including helpful notecards describing each product) and frequent tastings seal the deal.

Bottlerocket
Photograph: Jena Cumbo
Shopping, Liquor stores

Best for Novices: Bottlerocket Wine + Spirit

icon-location-pin Gramercy & Flatiron

Shopping for booze can be intimidating, especially if you’re not a drinker. But this user-friendly shop is perfect for both wannabe and professional winos alike. Each display is impeccably organized by themes and categories, so you can meander through the shop with confidence. Ordering in tonight? Make a beeline for the Chinese food container, where each bottle is specifically paired with local take-out menus. And if you’re shopping in search of a standout gift, the inventory ranges from “Someone you barely know” to “The Boss.”

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Shopping, Liquor stores

Best for Local Spirits: Bowery and Vine

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

This shop is just as equally charming as it is fully stocked with excellent spirits. The prices here skew a little higher than normal, but rare bottles abound such as Fuenteseca Tequila ($629) and Cognac Tesseron ($647). Whiskeys from Brooklyn’s Van Brunt house, Uncouth Vermouth, Seneca Drums Gin and Westchester Wheat Whiskey are among the many locally made spirits available.

Shopping, Liquor stores

Best for Bargains: Warehouse Wines + Spirits

icon-location-pin Greenwich Village

If a wide selection and deeply discounted prices are all you care about while shopping for booze, the Warehouse near Astor Place is your go-to. This joint is pretty popular, so expect cramped aisles and long lines at checkout. But if you’re more interested in buying than browsing, this one-stop shop for bottles is your best option.

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Wine Stop NYC
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Luis R.
Shopping, Liquor stores

Best for Late-Night Wine Runs: Wine Stop NYC

icon-location-pin Astoria

So you’re looking for a shop that stays open long enough for you to pick up a bottle post–happy hour (no judgment). Seriously, though, it can be difficult to find booze in this city past 10pm, so Wine Stop’s midnight closing hour is a game-changer. Need a few glasses of cabernet to help you forget about that horrible date you just survived? You’re covered.

Bars, Wine bars

Best for Tastings: Union Square Wine + Spirits

icon-location-pin Gramercy & Flatiron

Taste 48 different wines via the store's tasting machine, and check out the many events that are hosted here. The international wines start at $10 and run the gamut up to a $1,200 bottle of French red wine.

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Shopping, Liquor stores

Best for Obscure Bottles: Ambassador Wines + Spirits

icon-location-pin Midtown East

If you’re seeking a beverage that falls under the obscure category, this Midtown East shop is a must. Geared toward the spirits enthusiast, Scotch and Whiskey fans will appreciate the extensive, but pricey, selection. We're particularly fond of unusual finds such as Pow Wow Botanical Rye, a saffron and orange peel-infused rye whiskey and Bloom Gin, a London Dry flavored with honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo.

Shopping, Liquor stores

Best Customer Service: Mister Wright Fine Wines and Spirits

icon-location-pin Upper East Side

The aisles inside this shop might be narrow, but the breadth of this shop’s selection is anything but. You’ll find walls aligned with amari, numerous Scotches and gins. The classics, such as Tanqueray Gin ($29), Maker’s Mark Bourbon ($34) and Dolin Vermouth Rouge ($17) are reasonably priced compared to other competitors.

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Chelsea Wine Vault
Photograph: Diamando Proimos
Shopping, Liquor stores

Best for Taking a Class: Chelsea Wine Vault

icon-location-pin Chelsea

Even if you don’t know your chardonnay from your chenin blanc, you can still easily pick up a decently priced bottle from the 3,000-strong vino collection at this brick-lined oenophile’s paradise. If you’re still unsure about which merlot you like best, the Vault holds free tastings—usually on Fridays and Saturdays. What’s more, it rents out storage space in its cellar for folks in studio apartments.

Photograph: Jessica Lin
Bars, Wine bars

Best for a BYOB Dinner: Old Brooklyn Wine + Liquor Company

icon-location-pin Carroll Gardens

Brooklyn native Fernando Yong is behind this airy Carroll Gardens wineshop. The stock includes 175 international labels and a small collection of staple spirits. And winos will love the staff’s recommendation on their extensive malbec and sauvignon blanc varieties.

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Photograph: Shutterstock
Shopping, Liquor stores

Best Shop Next to a Subway Stop: The Winery

icon-location-pin Harlem

The friendly and knowledgeable staff add to the charm of this small wine shop, which is conveniently located right off the B/C stop at 116th Street. The selection of reds is especially impressive, with bottles from Slovenia, Australia and Portugal, and each one is shelved along with a thorough description, making this destination another good one for novices.

Photograph: Shutterstock
Shopping, Liquor stores

Best Near a Movie Theater: Mitchell’s Wine & Liquor Store

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

If you’re going to spend nearly $20 on a ticket and shell out about the same for snacks, you might as well go all-out and grab something to spike your overpriced Coke with. Well-stocked with both wine and liquor, this shop is just three blocks from the 84th Street AMC, which happens to boast reclining leather seats. So yeah, there’s your next Friday night.

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Shopping, Liquor stores

Best for Scotch and Whiskey Lovers: Park Avenue Liquor Shop

icon-location-pin Midtown East

Along with all the wine and spirits you’d expect at a liquor store, Park Avenue Liquor is known for it’s extensive collection of roughly 400 different types of scotch and whiskey. The shop exudes a warm, old-timey New York atmosphere and the staff is pretty opinionated, so trust that their recommendations are legit.

Photograph: Jonathan Aprea
Shopping, Liquor stores

Best for Bulk Purchases: Trader Joe’s Wine Shop

icon-location-pin East Village

Like its produce companion, the Trader Joe’s wine shop has reached cult status among those whose top priority is getting the most bang for their buck. The vast selection of $10-or-less reds, whites and rosés (they may not impress a wine snob, but they’re all decent quality) makes this a go-to destination when stocking up for a party. The secret is definitely out, though, so be prepared to stand in line to snag those rock-bottom prices. 

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