I thought it’d be bigger. Buffalo plays host to an NHL and NFL team after all. It’s the home of the chicken wing, Irv Weinstein and Commander Tom. And yet trip in the core and you’ll find yourself in the crunchy outskirts. Boarded up shops, street front churches, WWII era homes with sagging roofs.
Chris and I are in town to celebrate our 15th Anniversary. Buffalo, the honeymoon capital of East Tonawanda. Sure we could have opted for a more traditional Northern getaway. A Haliburton B&B perhaps – but then where would we get our tequila?
Sadly we’re still pretty far North of Mexico and selection is paltry. We’d need to hit up a few places. Our GPS helpfully directed us to a dim corner store. A dissolute yellow lamp the only exterior light illuminating the empty field beside it and the huge black Escalade in front. We didn’t stop to inspect their tequila selection.
Where we did end up is Gates Circle Wine and Liquor. We settled for a middling bottle of Corzo, the best we could do given the paltry selection.
But to their credit they were damn helpful. An associate came over to chat about the selection and it was clear he knew his stuff. Actually you got the sense everyone in the store knew their stuff. I’m no wine guy but I loved browsing the shelves and reading the handwritten reviews. Like Wordsworth’s mini book reviews these were from the staff. No slick marketing blurbs here.
Dig a little deeper and it’s clear they’re big on spirits. A 60 year old family business, they maintain a blog on the site where they drop some serious knowledge. The employees are steeped in booze. They run tastings weekly, host wine dinners and organize tours to wineries around the world. It’s beautiful what a liquor store could be! Actual folks passionate about what they do and always working to build their knowledge. It doesn’t hurt that a magnum of the Linedemans Chardonny costs the same as what a regular bottle goes for back in Canada.
Of course at this non-government run institution we couldn’t help but notice the line up of middle school kids with their bottles of peach schnapps, chocolate liqueurs and vodka coolers looking to get their fix, cigarette packs rolled up in the sleeves of their Aeropostale t-shirts. Drunks scattered and mumbling outside. Thankfully we have the LCBO to save ourselves from such a fate.