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I’ve always loved shopping local stores, full of treasures you never knew existed. When I started getting really into home bartending about five years ago, there was so much I needed. Cocktail shops quickly became something I looked for when traveling, second only to cocktail bars. There are plenty of liquor stores with a few mixers and some shakers. A true bartending store has been harder to find. I always look for a good mix of bar tools, books, glassware, and spirits (if local laws permit). It’s also nice to find locally made or sourced items, like clear ice or cocktail syrups. Besides being fun to browse, I also love supporting local business owners who share a passion for mixology. While many items in my gift guide support small businesses, walking into a shop to browse is half the fun.

Depending on the location, due to COVID-19, some of these locations may be temporarily closed. The cocktail shops with bars may be suspending drink service, depending on local laws. It’s always best to check their website, give them a call, or check out their social media for updates.

1. The Bittery – Raleigh, NC

  • Address: 501 East Davie Street, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Online store: Yes, but only for in-store pick-up for The Bittery; Crude Bitters products can be ordered for shipping
  • On-site bar: No

Occupying a Pepto Bismol-pink cinder block building that was once a dentist’s office, you’ll find The Bittery. The space also houses the production facility for Crude Bitters. Both are owned by a wonderful couple you can read about here. In the shop you’ll find a great array of tools, mixers, and (of course) bitters. They also sell a fun variety of tiki and other interesting glassware. Lightbulb glass anyone? While the state of North Carolina doesn’t allow them to sell liquor or cocktails, they do offer cocktail classes.

2. Mitch e Amaro – North Kansas City, MO

  • Address: 306 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Missouri
  • Online store: No
  • On-site bar: Yes

Located just north of downtown Kansas City, you’ll find a quiet street full of restaurants and shops, including Mitch e Amaro. They have an impressive selection of bottles of amaro (hence the name), mezcal, gin, rum, whiskey, mixers, bitters, and cocktail supplies. Nestled in the back of the nearly two year old store is a cozy bar with an impressive menu. Not only can you order classics and new favorites, but you can also order flights and try pretty much anything in the store. So, if you’re not sure what you like yet, get yourself up to Mitch e Amaro and start tasting! While I was there, I enjoyed the Last of the Oaxacans. It’s made with mezcal, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice.

3. Vena’s Fizz House – Portland, ME

  • Address: 345 Fore Street, Portland, Maine
  • Online store: Yes
  • On-site bar: Yes, but they’re closing in January to move to a bigger space (location TBD)

I was delighted to discover Vena’s Fizz House on a trip back to my childhood hometown last fall. Founded by Steve and Johanna Corman, Vena’s opened in 2013 specializing in old fashioned, all natural fizz sodas. In 2015, Vena’s obtained a liquor license and created a custom cocktail menu. Their signature is using bitters and hard-to-find nostalgic ingredients, like shrubs and switchels. They also offer online cocktail and mocktail classes for all ages. I love their vintage glassware, mixers, and cocktail picks. They also make their own bitters, infusion jars, and bitter-infused sugar cubes that they use in their cocktails and sell online.

4. Libations & Company – Lee’s Summit, MO

  • Address: 23 SE 3rd Street, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
  • Online store: No
  • On-site bar: Yes

Everyone has their favorite neighborhood bar, and this one is mine. Libations opened in downtown Lee’s Summit in 2017 by Seth Allen. It has become one of my favorite places for local and hard to find liquors, bar tools, glassware, and mixers. They have a bar that serves both classics and a rotating seasonal menu. Seth has an eye for vintage finds as well, and you’ll find some great art, signs, and collectables (like the jukebox) in the shop. Keep your eye on their social media for classes and pop-up tastings.

5. Bull in China – Portland, OR

  • Address: 2304 NW Savier Street, Portland, Oregon
  • Online store: Yes
  • On-site bar: Sort of, the tasting room for Aria Gin is in the same space

Bull in China was founded in 2014 to bring finely crafted and functional barware to the public. Their showroom is located in the Aria Distillery Tasting room. The store stocks the essentials, innovative items, and some handcrafted artisan wares as well. Three Portland bar industry vets who were tired of poorly made barware that couldn’t hold up to everyday use started the brand. They are maybe best known for the Bull in China Signature Mixing Glass (pictured). It was designed in Portland using a glass compound that allows for temperature fluctuations. The Aria distillery is in the Nob Hill Neighborhood and is surrounded by incredible restaurants, shopping, and three other distillery tasting rooms. You can read more about nearby cocktail bars here.

6. Bar Keeper – Los Angeles, CA

  • Address: 614 N. Hoover Street, Los Angeles, California
  • Online store: No
  • On-site bar: No

When I was researching cocktail shops for my July 2020 trip to LA, before it was postponed, I came across Bar Keeper. (I had also heard the owner, Joe Keeper, on the Bartender at Large podcast.) You only need to search for the store and you’ll see why I was excited to visit. The store is divided into three sections: bar tools, small batch spirits, and glassware. They offer a variety of independent spirits and vintage barware. Bar Keeper acquires one-of-a-kind bar accessories throughout the year, which means their collection is always evolving. I can’t wait to get out for a visit, but if you’re close, don’t miss this place!

7. Barkeep – Oklahoma City, OK

  • Address: 1121 N Walker Ave, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Online store: Yes
  • On-site bar: Yes

Barkeep OKC is a cocktail supply store with a sweet bar in the back. They sell everything from bitters (the best variety I’ve ever come across), mixers, bar tools, and vintage glassware. The owner is a bartender who was unable to find ingredients outside of the bar for home use so, she decided to open the store. It provides home bartenders and pros with a place to get what they need. Their online store sells cocktail kits (everything but the booze) and sip-safe masks. If you’re in OKC, you might also enjoy these cocktail bars.

8. Bitters & Bottles – South San Francisco, CA

  • Address: 240 Grand Ave, South San Francisco, California
  • Online store: Yes, alcohol can only be shipped within CA
  • On-site bar: No

Not that any of the pandemic has been “fun” but I have enjoyed watching the hustle of Bitters & Bottles via their Instagram account. I feel like a cheerleader from afar as I follow them get orders ready and packaged up for shipping. Their cute canine helper is also entertaining as well. The store carries a very impressive selection of Japanese spirits, along with quarterly spirits clubs for gin, whiskey, and rum. They also offer quarterly cocktail kits dedicated to the Negroni and the Old Fashioned. Someday I will visit and check out their hard-to-find bitters and rare spirits collection.

9. The Austin Shaker – Austin, TX

  • Address: 3 locations in Austin, Texas – 1199 Airport Boulevard; 420 North Pleasant Valley; 7626 West Highway 71 Suite B
  • Online store: No
  • On-site bar: No

I’ve always loved spending time down in Austin. Like many other people, my trips have been planned around attending SxSW. (I think I’ve been five or six times.) While I have enjoyed many cocktails there, I have yet to make it to any local cocktail shops. This is extra disappointing as the city is home to some great places, including three locations of The Austin Shaker. It’s owned and operated by veteran bartenders, so you’re sure to find everything you need and more. With a bit more emphasis on the spirits, you’ll also find wine and beer, along with the gear you need to shake up your favorite new drink!

10. The Boston Shaker – Somerville, MA

  • Address: 69 Holland Street, Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Online store: Yes
  • On-site bar: No

As a native New Englander, I couldn’t resist another “local” cocktail supply shop for the list. Plus, The Boston Shaker is too good a play on words to ignore. (A good Boston shaker is one of my favorite bar tools.) The shop is located in Davis Square in Somerville, which is a great place to find a cocktail. The team of cocktail consultants personally review the best cocktail tools, ingredients, books and glassware for their customers. They refer to their books as the “Libation Library” and make sure they contain only the best information.  

I’m always looking for new cocktail shops to check out. If you love one not on the list, please let me know in the comments!

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