Today I wound up in a store called Total Wines & More which is located in what used to be a dead Media Play and it was definitely the most alcohol I've ever seen contained in four walls. It was so big they gave me map of the store when I walked in.
The wine selection was definitely comprehensive to say the least and I had fun picking out three bottles, but the real fun to be had was in the liquor area. This is because whenever I'm in a liquor store, I always head to the Weird section where they keep all the cordials, liqueurs, schnapps, etc. I don't know why, because I rarely buy anything like that, but I love it when I find out about a new freaked out bottle of syrupy candy-colored liquid I've never heard of before. No one else ever seems to be in that section, either; in fact, I never see people just browse around and puzzle over things in liquor stores. People always stride in, pick up a bottle of Jim Beam and a 12-pack of Heineken or whatever, pay, and leave. Not me- I like to look around and find the unusual shit. That's why I had such a good time in there because I've never seen so much unusual shit!
Let's see- I saw Pecan Liqueur, Soho Lychee Liqueur, and Nocello Walnut Liqueur. I saw Blackberry Brandy and Cherry Heering, both for when you have an elderly lady over so you can offer her an appropriate drink. I saw two different brands of Pomegranate Schnapps. I finally saw an actual new bottle of Vandermint! This is a chocolate mint liqueur from the Netherlands that comes in a blue and white china bottle with a cap shaped like a tulip. I've seen the empty bottles several times in old people's houses (again with the elderly) where they've kept it around on the sideboard as a reminder of their trip to Europe.
Another interesting-looking bottle I saw was Barenjager Honey Liqueur. It's half covered in a honeycomb basketweave thing and a charming illustration of a bear is on the label, topped off with a cap shaped like a little beehive! Other unusual things I saw were: Anisette, Creme de Banana, Key Lime Cream Liqueur, Chartreuse, Shakka Kiwi, Ouzo, a truly hideous substance called Yukon Jack PermaFrost Peppermint something, a colorless liquid in alarmingly large bottles called Aguardiente, Fernet Branca (I heard about this stuff from a Bill Cosby routine), Stone's Ginger Flavored Currant Wine, Firefly Muscadine Wine Flavored Vodka (from Wadmalaw Island, SC!) and a freaked out thing called Aperol Aperitivo. According to the label, it is "based on an infusion of rhubarb, china, and gentian". Is China a flavor? And if you want a wider variety of Vermouth to choose from than the usual few dusty bottles of Martini & Rossi, they have a stunning array of nine brands. I also saw Boscoli Dirty Martini Olive Juice for Dirty Martinis.
They had Cactus Juice, which I don't usually see. I love this stuff. It's Margarita schnapps, which sounds awful, but don't knock it until you've poured it into a short glass over ice and tipped it back. Intense, refreshing Margarita flavor and effectiveness with a minimum of effort.
The beer section was definitely respectable, but there's a wider variety at Mink's down the street. They did, however, have Pabst Blue Ribbon in the bottle, which I've only seen once or twice around here. Strangely, a 12-pack costs $15. And while I'm on beer, let me just air a grievance I've been harboring for a while now: They fired the original St. Pauli Girl that used to appear on the bottle!! She used to be a fulsome and toothsome woman in Tyrolean garb, somewhere around her mid-to-late 30's with blonde hair in a tousled up-do. She seemed the perfect barmaid- fun, cheerful, and easygoing with a certain air of worldliness and experience. Well. Her replacement wears the same Tyrolean getup, but she's much much younger and thinner with nondescript shoulder length hair and a big fake smile. She looks like a Price Is Right model and I'm mad.
The whole time I was in there I was keeping my eyes peeled for Bum Wines, hoping I would find one. Not to buy, of course, just to marvel at. I didn't have my hopes up because nobody ever has them, but damned if they didn't have Red Lady 21 Pure Grape Wine! "The Wine of the 21st Century! Both white and red!
I did see yet another extraordinary item in there. Six-Packs of bottled Shirley Temples!! Jesus Christ!! I almost bought some. But there were two things I was hoping they'd have, but they didn't. One was something called Le Birlou; I saw it advertised in Paris and I thought it sounded good, but I never got to try it. The other was a brand of beer called Little Kings that I last saw in Ohio. They're silly little half-size bottles of beer. I just think they're neat, is all.