Hoboken's Liquor Store Situation

by Jeffrey Somers
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Hoboken's Liquor Store Situation

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Hoboken's Liquor Store Situation
Hoboken’s well known for its lively bar scene, and rightfully so. Stop by our little burg on a Friday or Saturday (or Thursday or even Tuesday) night and you’ll find a town that’s vibrating with energy. The bars are crowded, the music’s loud, and there are people everywhere. Of course, not every night is a Bar Night, and sometimes you want to stay home. Whether it’s a cocktail party in your apartment, a rager at your house, or just a quiet night in with a bottle of wine and your Netflix queue, bars are not always the answer—sometimes a good liquor store is. And Hoboken doesn’t lack for those, either. We have more than twenty places happy to sell you a bottle of wine, a six pack of beer, or a bottle of spirits, and that’s not counting the restaurants that will also sell you a bottle of wine, like Bin 14. For most people, proximity is a huge factor when choosing a liquor store—either proximity to home, proximity to your chosen grocery store, or proximity to restaurants (heck, half the business the 8th Street Tavern does has to be people running over to grab a bottle of wine to bring to Margherita’s). But if you’re choosy about your booze, want the best selection or the best prices, you might have to put a bit more effort into your liquor stores. Here’s a totally unscientific, somewhat biased, and very debatable roundup of the liquor stores in town.

The Hybrid Stores

Hoboken has a few places in town that are more bodega or small grocery that happens to sell some alcohol than full-on liquor store. You only come to these stores when they happen to be close to the restaurant you’re heading to, or because the bus stops right outside and you want some vino for the evening. These spots include The Village Market (702 Washington), Sasso’s (1038 garden), Willow Grocery & Liquors (841 Willow Avenue), Capporrino’s (528 Adams), and Ottomanelli’s (422 Monroe). These places all have a moderate selection of wine and beer and cursory selections of liquors. On the plus side, they also sell snacks.

The Neighborhood Workhorses

Liquor stores don’t have to be huge or fancy to be great, and Hoboken has a long list of neighborhood liquor stores that combine great service, decent prices, and a good-enough selection: Garden Wine (700 Park Ave): Though not on Garden Street, Garden Wine is a small, tightly-packed store with a better-than-expected selection. The owner, Phil, will be happy to offer a recommendation, although the man doesn’t drink so take his help with a grain of salt.
Garden Wine
Augie’s (419 Adams): A no-nonsense spot filled to the brim with wine and beer and a decent if not terribly deep selection of liquors. Uptown Liquor (112 14th Street): Not great for wine, decent for beer and a surprising choice of liquors. Prices are a bit high compared to other spots. Delite Market (420 Washington): This used to be more of a hybrid store, and still has a bit of grocery store about it—but their wine selection has really become something incredible, and their selection of liquors is surprisingly robust, too. Plus you can find wine bottles much cheaper here than at other spots in Hoboken. Yash Liquors (1004 Washington): A pretty deep selection with a focus on mid-priced wine, decent beer choices and good liquor depth. Not the friendliest spot to shop, but if you know what you’re looking for you’re golden here.
Yash Liquors
Hoboken Vine (400 Newark Street): This is a great store, and the easiest place to park if you’re making the rounds. Great selection, friendly and helpful staff, and don’t hesitate to ask them to order anything you can’t find. Blue Ribbon Wine and Liquor (450 1st Street): A pretty standard experience all around. The selection is unsurprising, the prices are midline, and the service is decent. Washington Liquors (211 Washington): Small, but tightly packed with more than you might expect in terms of choice and quality. Friendly if not particularly knowledgeable service, as a rule; if you know what you want, you have a decent chance of finding it here. Daniel’s Liquors and Wines (87 Park): No-frills is the best way to put it. A great place to pop into for basic wine and beer choices, with the occasional surprise.

The Premier Spots

Sparrow Wine & Liquor (126 Washington / 1224 Shipyard Lane): By now you know the drill: Amazing selection, extremely knowledgeable staff as a rule, a place you can find just about anything. Prices? A bit high. Throw in the tasting events they have regularly, however, and Sparrow is probably the best liquor store in town as long as price isn’t your number one priority.
Lookit all the whiskey at Sparrow!
Shop Rite Wines & Spirits (900 Madison): Convenient only if you’re already there shopping for groceries, it’s deceptive: While a large space, the wine and beer selection isn’t extensive and plays it safe, and the liquors are pretty standard, too. Fine if you’re just augmenting a shopping trip—but the convenience factor for grocery shoppers gives it more clout. Cork Wine & Spirits (1450 Washington): This place should be great. It’s a large space, in a good spot. Yet it’s perpetually understocked, with half-empty shelves. Tumbleweeds roll through this place. Giannone Wine and Liquor (305 River): The best word for this spot is curated. It has loads of wine, and your second-best chance of finding what you want (after Sparrow), and while its beer and liquor selection is smaller, someone is obviously thinking about what they do stock, as you’ll find whiskey and other spirits here you won’t find elsewhere. The Hoboken Wine House (1100 Washington): Another place with a curated feel. Prices are a bit on the high side, and selection isn’t huge. But you’ll find some interesting choices here, and the staff is usually happy to lend a hand.

The Mystery

Giovanni’s Liquor Store (501 9th Street): Maybe it’s because it’s right near the Shop Rite liquor store, but I’ve never found this place open, making it something of a mystery. Is it a real store? Can you actually buy beer and wine here? WHO IS GIOVANNI? We may never know.
Sure, it happens to be open the one time I take a picture ...
Finally, there’s Lackawanna Liquors in the train station, but I’ve never ventured there, so have no idea. Anyone want to let us know if that spot’s any good?

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