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Goodbye neighborhood liquor store. Photo by Christin Hume
Goodbye neighborhood liquor store. Photo by Christin Hume
Cheers! North County Columns Food & Wine

Cheers! North County: When buying beer, no longer business as usual

Grumble, grumble, grumble. That is me setting the tone. I have a complaint. I have many complaints, but one, in particular, that is plaguing my palate today.

Let me explain. Last June, I wrote a letter to my local liquor store. You can read that here. I waxed poetically (if I do say so myself) about how much I missed wandering the aisle searching for treasures or gawking at the label design — the most creative people must design beer labels — trying to decide between a pilsner or amber or IPA.

I wrote about the joy in the routine, in the cranky shopkeeper, in the nods to other craft aficionados stopping in after work to see the newest releases.

I take it all back. I’m breaking up with you.

And it isn’t because I don’t want to buy beer. I love beer. I love craft beer, crap beer and everything in between. San Diego County has so many breweries, and no matter how many little rules I create for myself about whom to support or not, I can never even pretend to get to them all.

And it isn’t because I don’t still love whiskey, tequila, gin, vodka or even brandy. The number of local distilleries seems to be growing month to month, and I still want to try those too.

And it isn’t because I’ve stopped drinking red wine. Cabernet is still my jam.

And it isn’t because I’ve stopped drinking hard kombucha or cocktails in a can or even the occasional hard seltzer. Don’t judge. It’s 2021. Hard seltzer is here to stay.

I’m breaking up with you because after 18 months of this insufferable pandemic, I’ve gotten used to deliveries showing up on my gate. I’ve gotten used to feeling good that I can tip the delivery drivers. I’ve gotten used to the comfort of ordering from the couch and making decisions on my timeline. Click select. Choose your delivery window. Buy. So easy.

I’ve gotten used to not feeling the panic that comes with having too many choices. I’ve enjoyed avoiding the anxiety that comes with being in a narrow aisle with other customers bearing down on me from both sides. I don’t just enjoy that. I appreciate it.

I’ve gotten used to not having to try to find the one six-pack with a price sticker (or getting surprised at the register) or try to find the spirit I’m looking for on the shelf high up behind the counter. I’ve gotten used to being able to price check, to change my mind or to leave my cart for later.

And for those days where I find myself desiring to engage with the world and with other lovers of fine drink, or with the local entrepreneurs who’ve created incredibly lovely places to sit with a pint, I’ll order for pickup. I know it will be the freshest product handed across the counter, often from the very person who helped make it. I’ll bask in the experience of it.

I’m breaking up with you, my neighborhood liquor store, because despite our long history, I’ve found another way. The market has changed, and I’ve changed with it, and I’m sorry. It’s me, not you, and … what? What’s that you say? Do you have a website now, too? And an Instagram account? And same-day delivery?

Hmm. I’m going to have to rethink a few things.

If you want to see what I’m drinking (or know what I’m thinking), be sure to follow Cheers! North County on Instagram and Twitter.

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