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Liquor Store Scavenging

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Since getting into cocktails, I've picked up the habit of hitting off-beat liquor stores for rare, or otherwise old bottles.

Some of my recent finds:

9 bottles of Tanqueray Malacca @ $20 each

A bottle of 2003 George T. Stagg @ $60

4 bottles of Plymouth with an older label @ $12.99

Anyone else doing this? Any other awesome scores?

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Since getting into cocktails, I've picked up the habit of hitting off-beat liquor stores for rare, or otherwise old bottles.

Some of my recent finds:

9 bottles of Tanqueray Malacca @ $20 each

A bottle of 2003 George T. Stagg @ $60

4 bottles of Plymouth with an older label @ $12.99

Anyone else doing this? Any other awesome scores?

Wow! Great score on the Malacca. I've been scavenging for that one for a while.

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It's getting harder. last thing I found was a bottle of Luxardo rolling around behing the TGI Friday's crap on the bottom shelf covered in dust. They still charged full price for it though...

It's getting harder to find stuff, at least around Boston with all the competition now.

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At a hole in the wall liquor store near my office, I found and bought three bottles of Carpano Antica. I'd only ever seen a bottle of it in Manhattan. Score!

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I stop at nearly every liquor store in RI to do this. Finds include state-labeled botttles of Amer Picon, green and yellow Chartreuse, Campari, Herbsaint, Lemon Hart demerara rum (80 and overproof), and who knows what else. Usually, it's priced slightly less than retail for whatever equivalent the store has chosen, which, for some bottles, means a steal.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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When I first discovered cocktails, I scoured Atlanta for Punt e Mes, Carpano, Junipero, Rittenhouse Rye . . .

My best find was six dusty bottles of Luxardo Maraschino at their original price (about $19, as I recall). Hesitating, I bought two. Three days later, I went back and bought the rest.

A year and a half later, Maraschino is widely available in the ATL, but I'm seeing signs of shortages of Landy VS Cognac, Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy, and Citadelle Gin (who also makes Landy's). It's a neverending story.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Scored three bottles of Laird's bonded in the clearance bin of a small store in Leucadia, California. Everything else was overpriced, but at $8.99 a bottle for the Laird's, I was walking on clouds.

My mom's even gotten in on the act, playing the innocent old lady asking for Malacca in smaller stores, hoping they don't know what they had. No dice so far. Last place I saw a bottle was over at Doc's forming the spine of a pink gin.

Best deal I ever saw on bourbon was the Costco in Kansas City. They had Booker's for $35 a bottle (it's $70 at the little corner markup near my house). Didn't have time to snag it, so I went back the next day intending to buy a case—maybe even their entire stock to have it shipped home. Gone. Gone! Asked at customer service. Apparently the distributors did not like to see it priced so low, so they called it back to their warehouse. The entire inventory had been packed up and shipped out the night before. Argh. I was that close to dropping a week's salary on as many cases as they had.

Now, the best deals for me are down the road in Tijuana groceries where the Cointreau and old formula Campari are about half price they are in the US. Havana Club? Also quite cheap there.

Oh ~ I also ask at garage and estate sales if there's liquor afoot. More often than not, the organizers don't think to sell the stuff lurking in cabinets, closets, and basement shelves. For every unopened bottle of ancient bourbon, you'll have to heft the creepy weight of ten open and room-temperature bottles of coagulated Bailey's Irish Cream, but there can be some gems.


Matthew B. Rowley

Rowley's Whiskey Forge, a blog of drinks, food, and the making thereof

Author of Moonshine! (ISBN: 1579906486)

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My mom's even gotten in on the act, playing the innocent old lady asking for Malacca in smaller stores, hoping they don't know what they had.

I wipe a tear shed for the love of mother for child....

I've learned to ask the question, "Do you have any old dusty boxes of stuff no one wants in the basement?" There's one store in town -- I'll never tell -- that pushes Capone's corpse aside to get me their latest oldest.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I got one of those grandma boxes once. Had an open bottle of bailey's....from 1964! Ouch. Also had some Seagrams VO from 1964 unopened with the tax tag still on it. Is that worth anything aside from a nice conversation piece?

I'll have to start hunting all the 'burbs now. Malacca would be the prime objective.

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Good question, and one worth expanding in general. I've left a few things on shelves that, whatever their kitsch value, promised little once I cracked open the bottle. What criteria should we scavengers have for the decades-old stuff? What's worth taking, and what's not?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Good question, and one worth expanding in general. I've left a few things on shelves that, whatever their kitsch value, promised little once I cracked open the bottle. What criteria should we scavengers have for the decades-old stuff? What's worth taking, and what's not?

i found three bottles of the "cinzano reserva dry vermouth". it definitely showed some age but i enjoyed it with cheese... i snagged the last bottle of old campari from the same store... i haven't been into brix in the south end in a while but i wonder if they still have amer picon on the shelves.


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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Someone mentioned estate sales; I once got three cases (6 bottles each) of Pampero Anniversario for about $11 per bottle at an estate sale. That was a couple of years ago. Still working my way through it.

Not sure what to do with the growing pile of leather sacks that is accumulating in a dusty shelf above the sink...


-James

My new book is, "Destination: Cocktails", from Santa Monica Press! http://www.destinationcocktails.com

Please see http://www.tydirium.net for information on all of my books, including "Tiki Road Trip", and "Big Stone Head", plus my global travelogues, and more!

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.....

Not sure what to do with the growing pile of leather sacks that is accumulating in a dusty shelf above the sink...

I keep fishing reels in mine.


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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I love this game! There are tons of older "mom & pop" liquor stores in the greater SF Bay Area and I'm slowly working my way through them. I've found many treasures, including:

J. Wray & Nephew C.J. Wray Estate Distilled Dry Rum (a fantastic premium Jamaican white rum unfortunately discontinued many years ago)

Stubbs Queensland Dry White Rum (interesting rum from Australia)

Forty Creek Three Grain Canadian Whisky (my favorite expression, and one of their original bottlings now no longer produced)

Marnier-Lapostolle Cherry Marnier Cordon Rouge (no longer imported to America)

Marnier-Lapostolle La Grande Passion (discontinued long ago)

Pisang Ambon (green banana and spice liqueur, no longer imported to America)

Old bottle of Drambuie in a beautiful cut-crystal decanter

There's a few I'm still (and always) on the hunt for, including Malacca (I have several bottles but have never seen any in a store) and Kahlua Royale (an old product blending Kahlua, brandy, chocolate and orange; one of my Mom's favorites).


Cheers,

Mike

"The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind."

- Bogart

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I was searching thursday when I asked about Tanqueray Malacca. The Greek gentleman behind the counter wasn't amused...didn't help that he had never heard of it.

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Found an original formula campari...finally. I did see some old plymouth gin bottles with the ship on it. I'm assuming that is only a package change and the gin is the same?

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Found an original formula campari...finally.  I did see some old plymouth gin bottles with the ship on it.  I'm assuming that is only a package change and the gin is the same?

Seems to be but why they changed the package is beyond me. The old ones looked way cooler and were much, much more bartender-friendly. At home I keep refilling my old ones, though that might be weird (no worse than the rest of you I'm sure :wink: )


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Found an original formula campari...finally.  I did see some old plymouth gin bottles with the ship on it.  I'm assuming that is only a package change and the gin is the same?

Seems to be but why they changed the package is beyond me. The old ones looked way cooler and were much, much more bartender-friendly. At home I keep refilling my old ones, though that might be weird (no worse than the rest of you I'm sure :wink: )

And the caps on the new bottles may as well be made of aluminum foil. I opened a bottle last night with a mighty effort because the cap wouldn't separate from the collar band, and all my twisting completely hosed the threads on the cap. Once it came off (with the help of some kitchen shears to cut through the scoring), the cap was a misshapen mess that I had to mold back into its original shape.

Christopher

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I haven't had that happen to me yet. It seems to happen to Beefeater bottles alot though. Pretty annoying when it does. I like giving it to customers when they think they're being funny and offer help. Let them play with it for 10 minutes or so.

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So, as joke the wife and I stopped into a liquor store on the way home, which turned into a 45 minute caravan to 12 different liquor stores.

Here's the haul:

liquorhuntsmall.jpg

1 750ml, 2 375ml's, and 2 200ml's of Malacca - for $17.99, $11.99 and $6.99 respectively. (FWIW the last 750ml bottle I sold on ebay went for $180+)

A bottle of Plymouth for $13.99

Bug Juice Campari, and a really, really old bottle of Campari. (I'll have to do a taste test between the two older bottles and the non-bug stuff)

I need to save up for a trip to NYC in August, so nothing like some liquor speculation to pay the bills.

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Ha ha - I thought I was the only one.

I'm not sure if my collecting is the same but I always bring back unusual liquers/spirits when I travel. As I've traveled quite a lot I have quite an unusual mix of stuff. Very fun at the end of a dinner when you ask people what they fancy.

I'm also big into Halloween, so any form of alcohol that has potential to be turned into something interesting, ghoulish, or strange gets plucked from the shelves. We do have a part of the cabinet that is filled with black and green glowing bottles - very funny. It's soo much fun at that time of the year too.

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So, as joke the wife and I stopped into a liquor store on the way home, which turned into a 45 minute caravan to 12 different liquor stores.

1 750ml, 2 375ml's, and 2 200ml's of Malacca - for $17.99, $11.99 and $6.99 respectively. (FWIW the last 750ml bottle I sold on ebay went for $180+)

A bottle of Plymouth for $13.99

Bug Juice Campari, and a really, really old bottle of Campari. (I'll have to do a taste test between the two older bottles and the non-bug stuff)

You're killing me! I'm in LA as well, but my scavenging hasn't turned up anything more than a bottle of the old label Plymouth.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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So, as joke the wife and I stopped into a liquor store on the way home, which turned into a 45 minute caravan to 12 different liquor stores.

Here's the haul:

1 750ml, 2 375ml's, and 2 200ml's of Malacca - for $17.99, $11.99 and $6.99 respectively. (FWIW the last 750ml bottle I sold on ebay went for $180+)

A bottle of Plymouth for $13.99

Bug Juice Campari, and a really, really old bottle of Campari. (I'll have to do a taste test between the two older bottles and the non-bug stuff)

I need to save up for a trip to NYC in August, so nothing like some liquor speculation to pay the bills.

Is it possible to say "congratulations" and "I hate you" at the same time? (the latter greeting provided on behalf of those of us in socialist liquor states).


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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I've been hitting some out of the way mom and pop stores lately. No new finds, but I been seeing a trend I hadn't noticed before. All the gin, which usually consists of nothing more than tanqueray and sapphire, is located on the bottom shelf, completely out of the way. Usually they live in between the rum and vodka around eye level, but I've never seen gin stocked almost as an afterthought before.

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OK, I just found a place with a whole slew of things I'd never seen, all with very old state tags on them: Campari raspberry (not a typo), a different Fernet bitters that isn't Branca, several ancient and wee Cointreau bottles, god knows what else. Any ideas about these first two?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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