Sunday, February 8, 2009

What I Bought at LeNell's

As many of you out there know by now, LeNell's, the one-of-a-kind liquor store nestled in the southwest corner of Red Hook, Brookyln, is facing its final days. After a year long battle with a landlord who refused to renew the legendary shop's lease, all legal efforts have failed. LeNell Smothers will closes her doors on Feb. 21, after six celebrated years.

I have long depended on LeNell's being there as a nearby source for otherwise-hard-to-get items, such are various obscure bitters, liqueurs, amari, intoxicants and, of course, nearly every brand of bourbon and rye one need bother with. Now, I'm going to have to haul myself into Manhattan to Astor Wine & Spirits to gather the provisions needed for the wide variety of mixed drinks I have an interest in.

I visited the shop recently to interview LeNell for an article in Saveur. I took the opportunity to indulge in one last raid on her pantry. Alas, I probably should have done this a month earlier. Smothers has not been renewing orders, wisely hoping to run through her current stock before she closes up. Shelves are all but bare. The wine is nearly gone. The bourbon selection is depleted, with only the most pricey bottles remaining. Thus, I was disappointed in several of my goals. I was not able to gather a new supply of Luxardo Maraschino Cherries, or purchase some Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur or St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram.

But I took what I could get. That included a bottle of John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum, some Luxardo Amaro Abano (which I've recently tasted in some cocktails and liked), Rittenhouse 100 (not super hard to find, I know, but it was there), a bottle of Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters, and a carton of seltzer chargers for my soda siphon. Not a bad netting.

LeNell's still looking for a new home. If you've got one, give her a yell.

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