Best Liquor Store

Ballard Liquor and Wine

All right, people, we kind of fucked up. Somehow Costco, Kroger, Walmart, and a bunch of other corporate overlords convinced us that we needed to boot the state out of the booze business and give them exclusive rights to sell the stuff. A majority of us voters must either be gullible rubes or drunken buffoons, because we actually believed prices would stay the same or even decline. What we got instead is jacked-up Jameson and a diminished selection. Fortunately, we were sensible (or perhaps sober) enough to decide that all the existing state locations could become privately owned liquor stores. That moment of clarity spawned operations like Ballard Liquor and Wine. It looks virtually unchanged from the old days—they even kept those tacky green-lettered signs that spell out the types of alcohol on the shelves—and they stock all the good stuff they don't sell at the grocery store. Not only that, the employees have totally mellowed out. One manager on a recent visit made a heartened pitch for a craft bourbon and even offered "backstage passes" to Portland's distillery row. Another time, the guy at the register allowed a dog into the store. Asked about the difference between his new bosses (who also own another independent liquor store on 25th Avenue Northwest) and the state, he replied, rolling his eyes, "It's more relaxed. With the state it was . . . stress." So here's the deal: In a couple years we'll be able to vote, via another initiative, to let the big-box stores keep their overpriced strawberry-kiwi vodka, and let all businesses—including bars!—sell bottled liquor over the counter. KEEGAN HAMILTON 2840 N.W. Market St., 706-5892

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