. . . and hopefully better and cheaper, thanks to our guide to liquor stores
Published: August 29, 2011
Student Life and your parents will remind you ad nauseum to make smart decisions when you drink. And you should. But that doesn’t mean you have to be careless in your spending. A cursory search reveals that there are 431 (!) liquor stores, give or take, in the Baltimore area, and it’s a fallacy to think they’re all created equal. Here are some of the highlights—our recommendations for you (or your “novelty identity”) to peruse between the all-nighters in the library stacks.
Near Coppin State University
3107 W. North Ave., (410) 945-3024
A checks cashed sign is not necessarily a good sign. There aren’t many liquor stores to speak of near Coppin that don’t bear this mark, at least not many that are exceptional. Rudies is among those that are fine with you cashing your checks somewhere else. Thumbs up for that.
1209 W. North Ave., (410) 669-5726
Remember that thing about all liquor stores not being created equal? Well that sorta falls apart when you get far enough downtown. Despite this, Jason’s has got some dirt-cheap deals and covers the basics well, although you probably want to head a bit further afield for better selection.
Near University of Baltimore/Maryland Institute College of Art
Federal Hill Wine and Spirits
901 S. Charles St., (410) 539-7757
Fed Hill isn’t really known for bulk liquor sales, but don’t sleep on this corner joint with character. It’s got some, but not too much, of what you need, and it makes the choosing part easy. Located down the street from every bar that would otherwise have your money, Federal Hill Wine and Spirits is prime for a little taste when you’re not feelin’ a night out.
2 E. Preston St., (410) 685-4275
Much like Jason’s, Jerome’s is an indistinguishable big-city standard: small storefront, tight selection, and low prices, and the hassle-free commute makes it worth checking out.
900 N. Charles St., (410) 727-7270
The staff at Spirits isn’t playing when it comes to its selection. Don’t come looking for Natural Light—the beer selection is high-end only. Still, Spirits is a nice change of pace. Worth a look for weekend tastings alone.
Near Johns Hopkins University
Hopkins Deli Restaurant
110 W. 39th Street, (410) 366-6603
Hopkins Deli has got the food ‘n’ booze run covered to perfection with its full kitchen. A fair price on kegs ($80 plus deposit) balances out the $18 30-packs, but when it’s 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday and it’s the only place open, who’s complaining?
3601 Elm Ave., (410) 467-7777
The Wine Source is almost blindingly bright. That’s because it’s Valhalla: some 1,500-plus beers, 5,000-plus wines, and all the accoutrements at decent prices. Party hosts can order from the four-page keg list (sixths, quarters, and halves) or, if you’re tired of swilling keg beer, the mix ‘n’ match six-pack wall will help widen your palate. Progressive discounts for those who buy in bulk. Be not afraid, step into the light.
Near Loyola University Maryland/College of Notre Dame of Maryland
5406 York Road, (410) 323-0676
Low-budget liquor stores are about as common on the Govanstown end of York/Greenmount as lake-trout joints, but Corky’s gets the nod for sheer proximity (especially from East campus). Fair pricing, decent selection, and location, location, location.
Jerry’s Belvedere Tavern
5928 York Road, (410) 435-8600
Jerry’s makes a good buck selling the cheapest of the cheap beer (we’re talking Boh Ice), but this half-bar/half-packie does it later than everyone. Open till 2 a.m. every night, Jerry’s makes the postgame possible after an evening of the regular on York.
Roland Park Wines and Liquors
4032 Roland Ave., (410) 366-1676
A small space with a warehouse feel, Roland Park is a seldom-visited stalwart near Loyola’s west side. This serviceable little spot is a bit heavy on the “wine and liquors” end of the spectrum, so if you don’t “do” beer, take the short walk.
4400 Evans Chapel Road, (410) 467-1615
Roland Park isn’t necessarily the most party-hearty neighborhood in town, but everybody likes to drink, right? Thus this 900-plus bottle seller with a wine dungeon that’d give “The Cask of Amontillado” a run for its grapes. But the Roland Park attitude stops at the door. Run by a coupla down-to-earth dudes, Wine Underground treats undergrads well. Students with valid ID get 5 percent off beer and 10 percent of wine/hard stuff, and they deliver (no charge, negotiable minimum, tips optional). Sign up for the mailing list to get info on tastings.
Near Morgan State University
8727 Loch Raven Blvd., Towson, (410) 668-8884
Unfortunately for Morgan students, it takes a bit of a drive to get to the kickass spots. Beltway is, simply, the ass-kickingest. Thirties for $15.99? Check. Vodka for $5.99? Double check. “Maryland’s Wine Super Store” has aisles and aisles of hard liquor and a mix ‘n’ match section that puts the Wine Source to shame—no simple task.
5818 Hillen Road, (410) 323-6748
One of a few unspectacular area cut-rate sellers, Hillen edges the competition slightly on price but probably not across the board. Sure, there are others packies close by, but just go to Hillen.
Near Towson University/Goucher College
824 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, (410) 828-6565
Run by a couple of grandfatherly guys who, we’re sure, could show you around a bottle or two, Dulaney might be the homiest liquor store in the Baltimore metro. A trip helps cure homesickness, while giving you a kickstart on hangover sickness. Kegs are available special order (call way in advance).
207 E. Joppa Road, Towson, (443) 275-2825
Skyline takes the whole “liquor store” thing to very literal ends, carrying just about everything fermented or distilled. Prices are down the middle for the most part, but Skyline sells just about the cheapest 30s in Towson. Looking to drink good on the cheap? Two words: clearance shelf.
Top Shelf Wine and Spirits
915 York Road, Towson, (410) 337-0409
Owner Jim Williams knows where his bed is made. He’s developed a symbiotic relationship with the Towson/Goucher student populations, catering college-fad fare (alcoholic whipped cream, if that’s your deal) alongside his extensive selection of microbrews. Get to know Jim, and he’ll be more than happy to donate his excess beer advertisements to your dorm room or frat house. Get this in addition to a 10 percent student discount on Wednesday nights.
6310 York Road, (410) 435-2700
JoAnn Hyatt and her husband sell every beer you’ve never heard of and all the ones you have. This perennial City Paper Best of Baltimore winner is known for its knowledgeable staff and inventory-clearing deals, so don’t hesitate to browse. Out-of-season six packs hit the shelf for around $4.99. Also of note: directly between Qdoba and Chipotle.
Near University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Little Abner’s Liquors
1306 Linden Ave., Arbutus, (410) 242-4099
Little Abner’s has been serving UMBC’s thirsty population since 1964, which we don’t have to tell you if you already go there. The owners have got college kids down to a T. What do we mean? Purchases of $100 or more come with a free T-shirt bearing the slogans such as drink like a champion today, and they sell Little Abner’s brand liquor for $5.59 a fifth. It might taste like napalm, but there’s no argument at that price.
Maiden Choice Liquors
1064 Maiden Choice Lane, Arbutus, (410) 242-6300
Old Town Arbutus has about as many martial arts dojos as liquor stores. What makes Maiden Choice a serviceable alternative to Little Abner’s (despite there being a near-analogous joint on Leeds) is the gracious staff.
Worth Seeking Out
Pulaski Liquor Emporium
6425 Pulaski Highway, (410) 483-7500
“Emporium (n): a large and often ostentatious retail shop offering for sale a wide variety of merchandise.” That sounds about right. There are enough racks (and rack and racks) of bottles at Pulaski to justify a trip to the east-side boonies. Novel idea: It’s got a bar too, complete with pool tables and City Paper’s 2006 Best of Baltimore Best Hot Dog. However, it could be more inviting. Maybe get the grog to go.
222 N. Charles St., (410) 528-8088
We probably could’ve shoved this listing in the UB/MICA section, but let’s be real, no college kids go to Charles Plaza for booze. It’s too bad: Urban Cellars dispenses the good stuff at prices that won’t break your budget. It’s not often you find a place like this smack in the middle of the city—a well-staffed, clean, and friendly environment makes all the difference.
> Email Jerard Fagerberg