While many local retail businesses have had to close their doors over the past month and a half, liquor stores (and pot shops) have been able to remain open as “essential businesses.” Curious as to what Roaring Fork Valley imbibers consider the most essential wine, beer, and spirits during our shelter-at-home status, we reached out to several local shops, from Aspen to Carbondale, to find out their top-sellers.
One takeaway, so to speak: drinkers are going big. “Probably our most popular items are jug wines,” says Curtis Fiore, general manager of Four Dogs Fine Wines and Spirits in Basalt. “Anything in bulk is selling hard,” he adds, mentioning Black Box and Bota Box as popular picks.
It makes sense, as residents try to limit their shopping excursions. And, at least in the midvalley, they’re foregoing the fancier items in favor of getting the “most bang for their buck,” as Fiore puts it.
Gonzo Mirich, who owns Jimbo’s Liquors in Basalt, concurs. “A lot of people are going back to basics,” he reports. “They’re choosing quantity over quality. We’re selling a lot of Black Box wine and bigger sizes of other stuff.” As for particular varieties, Jimbo’s customers have been increasingly turning to pinot grigio, a sign of the warmer weather, notes Mirich.
In Carbondale, reds are still proving popular at Sopris Liquor and Wine, especially “accessible red wines like 19 Crimes and others in the $10.99 to $11.99 price range,” says General Manager Carlos Pena, adding that shoppers buy a case or two at a time.
Cases of wine are also hot sellers at the Aspen Grog Shop, where a steady customer base comes in all day along, says General Manager Roger Carlsen. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Aspen wine drinkers are sticking to more specific varietals—and perhaps pricier bottles?—than their downvalley counterparts; specifically, rosé, cabernets, and sauvignon blancs.
Consumers have been opting for larger amounts of other items, like bottles or cans of beer, too. “People are buying 12 or 24 packs of Modelo instead of 6 packs,” says Mirich about his store’s best-selling brew. “They’re getting higher quantities so they don’t have to come back.”
What is it about Modelo, by the way? At Sopris Liquor and Wine, “we can’t seem to keep it on the shelf,” says Pena, while noting that it was a top-seller even before the pandemic. Hard seltzers are also doing well at the store, where the selection has been widened to meet demand.
As for the harder stuff, it’s all over the map. The Grog Shop’s Carlsen quips that tequila is “the tonic for the CO-VID,” with higher-end brands like Milagro, Casamigos, and Espolòn still attracting buyers. Tequila also outsells everything else at Four Dogs, followed by whiskey and vodka. Meanwhile, vodka is the top-selling spirit at Jimbo’s, though Mirich says that his customers are drinking a lot of whiskey and tequila, too. Popular brands include Smirnoff, Svedka, and Tito’s for vodka, along with Jim Beam bourbon. And at Sopris, whiskey nabs the top spot.
What’s not selling? Champagne, says Carlsen. “I don’t think people are in the mood to celebrate.”