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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Thursday, February 22

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Store Thu Aug 01 2013

Independent Spirits Opens in Edgewater

20130727_154509_1.jpgIt's pained me that the closest thing to a wine shop walking distance from my apartment in Edgewater is the liquor section in Dominick's. There, you'll find the usual suspects you can find most anywhere: Columbia Crest, Lindeman's, Cupcake. I'm not knocking those wines because I can, and frequently do, grab a bottle while grocery shopping. But seeing the same labels all the time is boring and makes the huge and varied world of wine and spirits seem like it's owned by a handful of megabrands.

The drink gods heard my prayers. Earlier this summer, Independent Spirits, Inc. (5947-49 N. Broadway) opened. And it wasn't only me who wanted a neighborhood booze shop. I first stopped in two days after opening and already a bunch of wine had been sold, leaving only a scattering of bottles here and there, mostly of French and German wines, plus a mishmash of others, including Greece and Argentina. Proprietor Scott Crestodina assured that the shelves would be stocked next week.

And boy, were they, plus a new table of wine at the front of the store. Eyeballing all the wines I wanted to buy, prices were incredibly reasonable, with a significant portion under $20. And there wasn't one bottle of Cupcake amongst that red, white, and pink.

The beer and most of the spirits section was packed too (including local products from Koval Distillery and Letherbee Distillers) except a few shelves where Crestodina would add to his already varied selection of whiskey and bourbon.

A friend who lingered in the spirits section while I picked through the wine asked about grappa, then whiskey, both topics Crestodina was readily knowledgeable on (did you know grappa is made from the pomace, or grape matter left over from the winemaking process?). We were pretty sure we could ask him any weird or obscure question and he could answer without blinking.

The shop itself is charming, too. A French radio station played quietly, the music fitting so well with the sort of old Parisian apartment vibe I hadn't noticed it until Crestodina pointed it out. The floor is covered with mismatched tapestry-style carpets, the walls with brightly-colored paintings of the wine-producing regions, made by Crestodina. He also constructed the wine shelving from wine crates he'd collected over the years.

Other crafty things are scattered throughout the store: a local artist is drawing pictograms on the windows from Crestodina's own illustrations of the wine and whiskey-making process, lamps are made with wine bottles, pipes, and sewing machines and a few of the tables are constructed from discarded doors. The beer and spirits shelves are also handmade.

I somehow made it out of the shop with just one bottle of wine and another of gin, though I know I'll come back for more.

Stop by Independent Spirits for a free tasting on Friday from 4-7.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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