Liquor Liquor Liquor

By Timm Carney


I love liquor stores. What’s not to love, really? They are stores and they sell liquor; what more can you want? Cigarettes? They’ve got those too! Providence has an abundance of great liquor stores. It has been a personal goal to go to as many of them as I can. I’ve always got an eye out for a new one and I am not a liquor store snob. I like a dive sometimes more than your swank establishments.

I like everything about liquor stores except one thing, the lottery. The lines always bug me and I just don’t get it. You’re not gonna win! I also don’t get the term Package store. I know it’s some Rhode Island expression that I just don’t get but that’s a whole other story. As I said I am always on the look out for a new store, so if you know of any please let me know!

One of my favorite liquor stores is luckily right by my apartment. Tropical Liquors on Cranston St is always a good time. Packed from opening to closing Tropical stocks as various a mix of products as their mix of clientele. You can find an excellent priced 12 pack of Becks or Bass right next to the Olde English. Just across the isle from the boxed wine one can find a decent cabernet at a decent price. The place is always hopping, but nothing bad goes down ever. They don’t go for that kinda crap at Tropical Liquors.

I’m also a big fan of ENO downtown on Westminster. It’s rather toney for my everyday usage but I do enjoy their selection. I went to a very nice beer tasting there once. I didn’t particularly care for the beer they were showcasing but it was fun and I did find a beer that I love and is hard to find. I am on the constant hunt for a Czech beer called Staropramen and I think they may have a handle on getting some. They have an excellent wine collection at moderate to high prices and a very amicable and knowledgeable staff. They don’t sell cigarettes though and that is a negative for me.

Nikki’s Liquors out on Admiral Street is the place you want to go if you are looking for interesting beer. It’s in a horrible location, an ugly shopping plaza, but the beer collection is outstanding. The prices aren’t cheap and it’s a pain in the ass to get to but I highly recommend it. They have a mixed case deal that is great. If you like craft or import beer this place is for you.

There are two liquor stores off the top of my head I love to go to just because they look great. Swan Liquors on Hope Street is the first. The old coolers and shelves are beautiful and they have a pretty good mix of stock. I used to live in the most boring place in the world, Wayland Square. The only liquor store there is beautiful as well. The coolers are gorgeous; too bad the help is so unpleasant.

I am obsessed with going to the liquor store on Douglas Ave that was in the news recently for serving underage kids. Not that I agree with serving underage kids but I am glad to know that there are still stores like that around. It’s pure nostalgia on my part. “Rinute on ice how nice.”

Campus Liquor on Brook St. near Wickenden is another favorite of mine. The staff is always nice and they have a great selection. It’s a store I go to if I need to buy a bottle of wine as a gift and don’t want to get screwed on the price. Where the campus its name alludes to isn’t clear to me as it’s an actual bus ride from the Brown campus but whatever. Practically on the Brown campus is an excellent liquor store Spriritus Fermenti. It wins hands down for the most pretentious name but it has a good selection and decent prices. The winner for me in the neon sign category it Nocera’s on Smith St. That is one fine sign and a good little liquor store to boot! There are lots of little liquor store around but few big ones. Gasparros on Atwells is pretty big and their wine collection is legendary. There was a liquor store called Peoples Liquor in the Brewery Parkade that I loved. It was huge. Peoples Liquor, how more egalitarian can you get? It has had a closed for renovations sign in the window for nearly a year. A liquor store with shopping carts, that’s real liquor shopping!

So do yourself a favor and go check out one of these little gems. If there is one that you think I really should see please let me know as I will make a concerted effort to check it out!

12 thoughts on “Liquor Liquor Liquor”

  1. Thanks for all the beer store tips! I’ve been dieing to find larger selections of beers! Cardoza’s is a chain but has a pretty good selection/price all around and has a discount card! They’d win my vote for best chain.

    BTW- You may know but “package store” is a mass and ri thing. It stems from old blue laws that require all items bought in said store must be covered in brown paper when leaving the store. Hence all were packed into brown paper bags or boxes…packages. So comes the term package store or “packie” as we all know it.

  2. You should check out Darwin Liquors on Benefit near Wickenden St, it’s like walking into someone’s house.

  3. Since we’re talking out of the city, Joyal in West Warwick has an excellent collection of whisk(e)y; immense varieties of bourbon and scotch and probably Irish as well, but I’m not a big fan. They also have a pretty decent beer selection, although I’ve not found any liquor store in New England with as good a selection as the average Whole Foods down in the DC area. I’ll have to check out Yankee.

    A side note: Haxton’s on Rt. 2 in Warwick is selling Lucid absinthe now. It’s locked up so you have to ask for it – $60. I bought a bottle, but I really don’t see what the fuss is all about. It’s like drinking too much cough syrup, both in effect and flavor.

  4. There’s a great place on North Main, I think it’s called City Line Liquors, and they have a really great selection of odd craft and micro brew. It’s not in the coolers, its sort of hidden in another aisle. They also have that new Lucid absinthe…

  5. That was a good overview! Mixed cases at Nikki’s (at an awesome 20% discount) have totally made staying home more fun than going out these days.

    I also picked up a mystery mixed case at this big store on rt 2 in Warwick called Haxton’s. It was only $11 and actually had some decent beer in it. (We’re still waiting for someone to come over who will drink the tea-flavored malt beverages, though…ha ha).

  6. You might be surprised that Yankee Liquors on Rt 1A in S. Attleboro has perhaps the most expansive selection of beer in the area and great wine deals with knowledgeable salespeople on the floor. They do great wine tastings often; highly recommend if you are willing to travel outside of the city.

  7. Tropical neighbor

    Tropical is my neighborhood packie, so I go there on the regular. Dear old Dad stopped in for a six-pack over the summer, right after which several mysterious $300 transactions at appeared on his card. So yeah, patronize Tropical. But bring cash.

  8. Madeira Liquors on Ives St. is great. The family that runs it is very friendly. Also, Diane who works there is a political junkie and is always up for talking politics.

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