Leftridge: Buying Booze in Kansas

kansasJohnsonThere are many important things to consider when moving to a new city…

How are the schools? Will my children finish each day happy, confident and learned, or is there a high probability that they’ll be knifed at the water fountain?

How are the neighborhoods? Will there be safe, family-friendly block parties where we get together, cook out and talk about community improvement matters, or will I end up waking up at 3am because my methed-out neighbor Tim just busted my car window in an attempt to steal my stereo? (It’s a factory stereo, Tim. Don’t be a dipshit.)

High on the list of considerations are the amenities. Is there a reasonably close market stocked with fresh produce, helpful employees and clean, easily navigated aisles? Are there decent restaurants, bars and movie theaters? If my dog eats poisoned ground beef late at night (goddamn you, Tim, I know it was you), is there a competent emergency pet-care facility nearby?

When you move to Kansas—as I found myself doing some five months ago, now—another very important subject is liquor.

MHall2See, prior to moving to Johnson County early last Fall, I’d never really been to Kansas. Oh, sure, I’d been to see concerts at Memorial Hall as a teen, and I’d accidentally dipped across State Line on very peculiar occasions, but I’d be willing to wager I could count on my fingers the number of times I’d been “over there.” Seriously. I grew up North of the River and, after some time in Chicago, moved back and lived for a few years in downtown KC.

I didn’t need Kansas, and it didn’t need me.

But one day you wake up and you’re over 30 and your wife’s biological clock is ticking so loud that it’s actually audible. Sure, your loft in the Crossroads is pretty fucking cool, but the building itself is teeming with douche-bag Jersey Shore wannabes who stumble through the halls after Power and Light closes, singing “Red Solo Cup” at the top of their lungs before pausing to vomit near the elevator and then fistfight one another over some perceived slight (often the affections of a comely lass, sometimes a discrepancy with who-paid-what at Town Topic). This is hardly any place to raise a family.

So you move to the “cool” part of Johnson County where there are enough people in your same situation to make it palatable. You buy a house. You start working on that kid.

As a Missouri-boy, however, you’ve got some adjustments to make. There’s KU shit EVERYWHERE. There are far fewer minorities. (They’ve been replaced, you find, with A) hick-kids in unnecessarily large pickup trucks and B) thugged out white kids in souped-up Acuras, replete with giant spoilers, giant speakers and NEON FUCKING LIGHTS underneath.)

QTtaquitosPerhaps the biggest adjustment is the booze situation. See, you probably know that in Kansas, liquor can’t be sold at grocery stores or gas stations, and the beer they sell at those places isn’t really beer at all. In order to get REAL alcohol, one must visit an actual, standalone liquor store. I knew it too, but the reality didn’t set-in until we moved here. See, in my past life, I’d often just buy my beer at a grocery store while doing the rest of my grocery shopping. You know, like a normal human being. Sometimes, I’d swing by QuikTrip and get a fistful of taquitos and a six pack of 80 Acre Wheat. Life was simple.

Now, however, my world has changed. Gone are the days of convenience and “one-stop-shopping.” Now I’ve gotta get my taquitos and THEN swing by a liquor store to get plain old, regular-ass beer.

It’s archaic, but I made this bed.

So I’ve been trying out different liquor stores to see which one fits the best. Here’s what I’ve found.

tipsys1) Tipsy’s Liquor (6840 Johnson Drive)

Easily the best, and by a good bit. It’s big, it’s stocked to the gills and it gives you a “Build-a-6-pack” option that every other liquor store should adopt. Though it seems to be a bit on the pricy side for most boring, big name domestics, it’s really not too out of line with any of the other places I’ve been. The parking kind of sucks, though, given that it’s in a busy shopping center.

2) Metcalf Liquor (7531 Metcalf Ave)

Not to be confused with Metcalf DISCOUNT Liquor, of which there are a million dotting the landscape. I just discovered this place the other day, while trying to avoid Metcalf like the plague. I popped in and found a helpful woman and a pretty, younger looking woman (maybe her daughter?) who was sitting there leafing through a magazine. It’s a very laid-back place where people read magazines, is what I guess I’m getting at. Anyway, the place looks a little worn, and it too is in a strip-mall (to be fair, I don’t know that I’ve yet been ANYWHERE in Kansas that isn’t technically in a shopping center or strip mall), but the selection is impressive. I’m hardly a beer snob, but sometimes I like a weird IPA that’s maybe a little off the radar; Metcalf Liquor has quite a few of those interesting options, which is great. Plus, pretty girls reading magazines. Hard to beat.

3) A and H Liquor (6901 W 75th St)

This place is a little hard to miss. Tucked secretly in a sad shopping center featuring a payday loan emporium, a dollar store and a dying Subway, A and H is no frills. VERY no frills, actually. It’s small, and smells strongly of the incense that the (Indian?) proprietors like to burn, but the workers are friendly, it’s never crowded and there’s just enough of a selection that you could stop in with a Moderate-Level Beer Snob friend, and they’d be able to find SOMETHING to drink. I’ve never regretted coming here, mostly because it’s so damn close to my house.

rimann4) Rimann Liquors (3917 Prairie Ln)

Much ritzier location than any of the other places I’ve mentioned, but beauty is only skin deep. It’s not bad here, by any means, but it’s my least favorite on the list. The selection is good—better than that of A and H, for sure—but something about it rubs me the wrong way. I went in here once to get some beer and get right out, but I kinda felt like I was being watched… like I was a black dude and cashier was a Korean man, and this was Los Angeles in 1993. (None of which happened to be the case, believe it or not.) I wasn’t emotionally crippled by his hawkish nature, exactly, but I didn’t really feel welcome, either. (It’s odd, because I REALLY don’t stand out much. I’m very non-descript, and I didn’t have my penis out or anything. I’m pretty sure I was wearing a North Face jacket like every other jerk in Prairie Village.) Other than that, it’s an okay place. Just don’t go here if you’re black, because then all bets are off. I’m kidding. (Probably.)

 

Well, those are the four liquor stores I’ve been to in five months.

Are there any I’m an absolute idiot for missing out on?

Any places I should resolutely stay the hell away from? (To be honest, those are kind of my favorites.)

Have any of you been profiled due to appearance at Rimann Liquors and are you interested in joining my class action lawsuit?

Let’s here about it in the comments.

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46 Responses to Leftridge: Buying Booze in Kansas

  1. kcres says:

    Just goto hyvee liquor off state line. It is in Missouri by a parking lot and cheaper than Kansas.

  2. Nick says:

    I feel your pain only from a remove –I’m a Missouri boy through and through — and am as likely as not to laugh at your ‘predicament’. Still, the situation sucks; in many ways Kansas gleefully adopted the worst memes of the benighted ’50s and then “improved” on them. And if Sammy gets his way soon you’ll have to cross State Line to buy your devil water on Sundays.

    But, like many things in life, it’s all about the trade-offs, right?

    So, do yourself a favor – for beer shop at my buddy’s place, Bier Station (it’s not very far at all.) For everything else hit the HyVee liquor store on State Line.

    • I keep meaning to check out Bier Station. I’ve heard good things. And that’s two votes in a row for the State Line Hy-Vee… sounds like I’ll need to make a visit.

      • mike t. says:

        lefty… definitely try Hy-Vee Spirits (the correct name) on State Line if it’s not too far out of your way. big selection, Missouri prices (you do pay more in KS – higher taxes), friendly folks (Ron is the manager – big tall white haired guy and knows his stuff), nice cigar selection too if you’re of a mind.

        I’ve been to all of the places you’ve mentioned. never knew the one was called “A & H” because I’m usually watching for cars zinging around while navigating to a parking spot that’s on a 45 degree incline.

        • Haha. You’re right about A and H. And holy ess, third vote for State Line HV. It’s becoming less of a suggestion and more of an irrefutable fact.

          • Bob says:

            And, and this is just a little something extra, you can apply your booze purchases for gas at the Hy Vee liquor store across the street.

  3. Thanks for your description of LA in the early 90’s. I was there, but can’t remember a thing. Your commentary on LA is bricking it back to me now.

  4. admin says:

    I’m kinda curious where you bought your shit when you were holed up near Union Station. Southwest Boulevard?

    • Royal Liquor. Always an adventure. Shockingly expensive, but they have a big selection. Great place if you need a tall boy of Four-Loko (nobody does) and a frozen “Totino’s party pizza.”

      Cosentino’s is also really decent, provided you can figure out the parking. (They have a garage, and you should try and work it so that you leave headed out on Walnut, if possible.)

      • Sure, I am alive, barely. I make a living as a boat motor mechanic. I should be dead though. Paramedics who attended to me said I came very close to death. My skull was fractured in 91 places and pushed into the brain. My left eye was so badly dislocated that it would have fallen into my sinus cavity had the surgeons not replaced the crushed bone with a piece of plastic. A permanent crater remains in my head despite efforts to correct it. I had to undergo years of rehabilitative therapy, and my speech and ability to walk were permanently damaged.

        I drink a lot and ONLY buy my liquor from Koreans with guns. Too bad I didn’t get pulled out of my truck in front of a Korean liquor store. My favorite drink is a “Corpse Reviver” with lots of bitter.

      • admin says:

        Couldn’t think of the name, but Royal is what I was thinking of.

        As I recall, that place can be kinda rough. And you’re right about pricey. It’s one of those examples of businesses that serve the inner city gouging the people who can least afford it.

  5. Super Dave says:

    Some of my first alcohol was bought at Metcalf Liquor. I bought my first house back in 1973 on Glenwood just north of 75th. so Metcalf and what is now A&H was the neighborhood spots for your ales. Both places was family owned and nice friendly places to shop in. Damn wish I could still buy places to live for 28k like I did that place back in the day. Anyway back to the story at hand. I have since moved a few times and had to find new places to buy my spirits. Rimann Liquors as I am sure HC can vouch for is one of those neighborhood liquor stores where soon as you walk in the door they know you are not from around there so at once they think you are there to do something other than buy forty dollar per bottle wine. Another place you need to check out is Parkway Retail Liquor – 7709 Shawnee Mission Pkwy that was the folks favorite place to go and I as well been know to stop in, real friendly people and awesome selections on wine and beer. I shop at the neighborhood liquor store four blocks from where I live now which is as well family owned and operated we all know each other and you meet those who live around you as well off and on. I have found in my almost 50 years of going to liquor stores find one you like and more or less stick to going there where they start to know you, sort of becomes friends and what not. Like a lot of small little bars was many years ago. Then if you need or want anything special they know you’re a regular customer and will order stuff they don’t normally stock and not be in fear of getting stiffed for it. Want a keg of something they don’t handle, they are more incline to take care of you and give you a deal once in a while. I like George Dickel Barrel Select or #12 and the local store brings it in just for me along with some wines off and on. So a good relationship to me with the local liquor store is a good relationship to have.

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      SD– long time, no see. Sounds like I’m RIGHT where you used to live. I’m enjoying the area, overall. It’s quiet and pleasant.

      I’ll check out Parkway Retail.

      • mike t. says:

        i have to agree with SD. there are two small local liquor stores that I frequent and didn’t mention them in my first post because they’re small and don’t have a large selection. one is just south of 95th and nall and the other is in corinth square. I try to spread my purchases around.

  6. hot harley says:

    oh…one thing…lefty….don’t drink and drive in Kansas…
    you’ll be treated worse than a murderer here in Kansas if you’re caught with a
    dui!

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Yep. I’m not a drinker/driver. Ever. Even after a single drink, really. (Rare exceptions when dining out… occasionally.) It makes me too nervous.

  7. Steveo says:

    Dude, there are 4 liquor stores for every grocery store around here. I am never more than walking distance from getting drunk. Have to get in a car to get food. What pisses me off is that they don’t sell cigarettes and cigars or rolling papers or porn at most of these places. Or if they do, I have to wait and get rung up on a separate cash register. Talk about inconvenience!

  8. newbaum turk says:

    Check out Ensmingers Liquor on the NW corner of College & Quivira. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the wine selection and the people who work there are very helpful. One other thing to make you feel better (it does me anyway). All Kansas liquor store owners must live in Kansas. So they pay taxes in Kansas and employ people in Kansas. I know it’s a pain in the ass to hit the grocery store and have to go to the liquor store to get what you want but it does keep the fucking Wal-Marts of the world from owning everything on Earth. So feel better knowing your money spent is going to support a local small business owner.

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Interesting. I didn’t know about the KS residency requirement. That’s pretty cool.

  9. the dude says:

    You have no idea how horribly pissed I was when I first found out grocery store beer was 3.2 as a Missouri kid in Kandyass Kuntry.

  10. newbaum turk says:

    5.0% beer is a misnomer. It means not to exceed 5% alcohol. Most 5% beer in reality is about 3.6 to 3.8%. If your one of those people who thinks they can really tell the difference then to offset it, drink one more beer. But there really is almost no difference.

    • You’re probably correct here, to some degree. My biggest issue is that it provides a much more limited selection. I’m thinking of Blvd., for example… at grocery stores/gas stations, I’ve only ever seen Pale Ale and Wheat. I tend to prefer 80 Acre and/or any of their IPA offerings.

  11. BS Nerdlaw says:

    I am also a Missouri boy who moved to Kansas almost 3 years ago. It took some time to get used to the change, so having to go to the liquor store doesn’t bother me too much anymore. I have several that are close by. The only thing that annoys me is that most of them (but not all of them) don’t even sell mixers. So in other words, if I’m in the mood for my favorite drink (Captain and Coke)…I still have to make a stop at the QT, because my liquor store close by does NOT sell 2-liters of soda.

    Major fail on their part! However, like I said…I have been to some other liquor stores that do sell them. It just seem more do not than do. Irritating.

    • the dude says:

      I smell a conspiracy somewhere in this post.

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Now that you mention it, I don’t think any of the places I’ve frequented have mixers… then again, maybe I’ve just never noticed.

      • newbaum turk says:

        You’re right about the mixers. Now that really is a dumb law. If the store is big enough they have a separate room with its own register to get around the law. You ever been to a state that owns and controls the booze? That really sucks because there is no competition to keep prices down. Seems to me Missouri has done it the best. Get what you want about anytime you want. You can also get booze to go from bars in KCMO but it’s usually way overpriced.

  12. Hot Carl says:

    80 Acre Wheat? Sounds like you’ve lived in JoCo your whole life!

  13. hot harley says:

    all you kcc guys might not know much about economics/politics/sports/
    current events etc….BUT YOU DUDES SURE KNOW THE BEST PLACES TO
    STOCK UP ON BOOZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    have one on Harley!!!!

  14. Bob Loblaw says:

    Surprised no one has mentioned Lukas Liquor on Metcalf-ish and 119th, sorta kinda by Target. You’ll be floored at the selection. The place is enormous.

    That said, I find myself at Smitty’s off College and Antioch most often since it’s pretty close to my house. Can’t go wrong with a store that is owned by a guy that works at Boulevard!

  15. Brother Sunday says:

    Left, love your work. Great stuff!
    Regarding HyVee, its not at all bad. Lots of wine knowledge with the tall guy for SURE! Go there on Friday after 6 or so and they have really great samples of wine or liqour. Order a take and bake pizza next door. But the statement, “…you can apply your booze purchases for gas at the Hy Vee liquor store across the street.” from BOB. Is no longer accurate but has not been for one or two years. And since we are throwing stuff out there across the state line, Mikes in Westport and south Waldo is amazing. The guys know their beer, vodka, wine, kegs…
    Worth mentioning is WHAT the HELL happened to Berbiglia?!?! Most expensive place on the Missouri side. Wornall Road store looks 50% empty, 75th and State Line store total rippoff and higher prices than other Berbiglia stores on the same products in an attempt to extort (?) higher prices from us Kansas tards who believe it’s cheaper across the state line in all cases. (complete boolsht) Only thing good about it is email list alerting you about wine tastings which often include food and liqour. Well worth checking out.

    Back to Kansas…+1 on Tipsy’s! I love the plastic “handles” of grain alcohol! Also Ranchmart Wine and Spirits (NE of 95th and Mission behind McDonalds) is a great place with tastings as well. Get on their email list too.
    But I tell ya what, the “place in Corinth” is Wooten Liquor and it is hands down, without a doubt, swear to Allah… the most expensive place in the county of Johnson in which one could buy alcohol. Once in a while they have a stale wine sale in which you can find a deal. Mostly because they have no earthly clue what it is. Plus they have no idea how to store or rotate wine. Thank god for wine reps. And thank god for Brandon Leftridge!
    PS, how does that wholesale thing work in Kansas where bars have to buy alcohol from liquor stores? WTF is that about? Never understood it.

    -Brosun

    • mike t. says:

      correct about wootens. I only ever buy a six pack there now and even then if I’m forced to or too lazy to drive farther. I used to shop there more often because it is really close to my house and I could stop there also the way home from johnny’s or salty iguana…. BUT…. besides their prices, they have the lousiest cooler of anywhere I shop. it is NEVER cold enough. I drink bud light. I know.

    • hot harley says:

      does this guy have a job…or does he just down buckets of booze
      all day.
      He’s like the Wikipedia of cheap ass booze in kc.
      Has there been a single store this dude has bought booze in?
      And anyone who watches for “stale wine” sales must really be
      down on his luck…whats the going price for stale wine these
      days? 59 cents a bottle?
      geeeez….see what those unemployment checks do to people!

      • Brother Sunday says:

        Mr. Carrie Mathison, Brother Sunday would like to thank you for assigning him the new moniker “The Wikipedia of Cheap Ass Booze in KC”. He intends to place this on his business card and email signature. He has a wonderful job, as avid readers know, and writes most of his comments from his desk – instead of his mother’s basement. He doesn’t SEEK OUT cheap wine or booze, but dislikes paying 5$ more for Rumple Minze at Wootens (expensive). However, it was wrong of him to call it stale wine but does not understand why they suddenly put random wine on sale. Brother Sunday does not buy wine *there*, but he does like wine. His neighbors have found really good bottles in the Wooten sale bin and you, sir should check it out as it is abundantly obvious that you could use a beverage in addition to a refill whatever crabby republican old man medication you are prescribed. PS: http://75thstreetwineclub.info/ CVS on 75th and Wornall!!

  16. hot harley says:

    heck…a small story about cheap ass booze stores gets more comments than
    hearnes earthbreaking story about the new theatre missing its opening
    night.
    whats this world coming to.
    Maybe hearne should write a column on restaurants…he might get some
    responses.

    • admin says:

      Hey Thanks, why didn’t I think of that!

      • hot harley says:

        hearne…get some sleep dude..
        someone like you needs 8-10 hours of sleep…what are
        you doing up at midnight on a school nite?

        • admin says:

          Worrying about you and your pals on that broken down bus from “John Know” village

          • hot harley says:

            speaking of typos hearne…
            you’re the king…right behind me!!!!!!!!!!

          • admin says:

            First of all, H Man, I just got through conceding that point. There are going to be typos on KCC, I just said that.

            Even with a battery of full time editors and reporters, the Star has more than its fair share of them. And with me running pretty much the entire show, count on finding even more here. But it’s silly for Bostock and Tiad to harp on them as if they were critical errors to the extent that they sometimes do while ignoring largely the content of the stories and columns.

            Look, they can hide behind their silly aliases and act like fussy, old women if they want if they like, but every once in a great while I don’t mind calling them out for their pettiness as I’ve done here. Hey, who doesn’t like a nice spat here and there.

            Because readers need to know – not that many, maybe most don’t already – the difference between what are widely considered major errors – like the one in the Star news story about the Reinhold incident – and some random typo of a dude’s name that is repeatedly spelled correctly in all but a single instance. Tiad was just having a bit of fun needling me and trying to muddy the waters on the significance of the Star error. Although he finally conceded it warranted a correction, rendering his initial comment point moot (or as the Scribe might say, “mute”).

            However, when it comes to typos, far be it from me to challenge you for the highest of honors. We all bow to your penchant for bizarre typing exercises and entertaining and unusual misspellings. Even with that said, I’m fairly confident that most of your errors – other than the ones in judgment – are merely careless one and not indicative of your ignorance or inability to correctly spell or think.

            How’s that?

    • the dude says:

      Paging Mr. Jolly, Mr. Jolly…

  17. Mr Gallo says:

    Hey…Rimanns is a good store. They actually have sommeliers and cicerones on staff.
    I’m sure they were only trying to be informative and helpful. I like the place, and I don’t wear a North Face jacket.

  18. Girl Friday says:

    To chime in a humble opinion from the Lenexa area, Gomer’s liquor on 87th is a winner. Always a great selection of seasonal beers and microbrews, with mix a six pack option and every liquor known to man. I stop in to check out the random gift sets that seem to always be marked down to lower than buying the bottle of booze alone. And since I seem to have an “I’M CLUELESS AND WANDERING” sign on my forehead as I tour the aisles, twirling my hair, a sales associate is quick to offer help. They buzz off after an appropriate amount of time so I can get back to enjoying their marketing sensory overload. I never leave there without what I came in for, and then some.
    On a side note for “hot harley”, I’ve had many a cocktail with Bro Sunday. He not only has a handsomely stocked bar at his home to offer his guests (which I have YET to see a clearance sticker on a single bottle) but is also first to pick up the tab for his friends or bring a round of shots for the table (hope you like Rumpleminz). Even when it is NOT happy hour. Don’t hate a good eye for a bargain. Wine and beer tasting is there for a reason – to sell wine and beer to the tasters. Now if you’ll excuse me, Bro Sunday and I are having dinner at a Sam’s Club sample kiosk.

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