Best Liquor Store

Corral Liquors

The independent liquor store is a fading remnant of the past, but don't go to Corral Liquors out of nostalgia. On Nameoki, a mile or so north of the gargantuan smelts of Granite City Steel, a sign announces the largest supermarket of liquor in metro St. Louis. That it apparently is. Corral stocks 2,000 different wines, more than 500 microbrews, some 30 designer vodkas and walls of fine tequila, single-malt scotch and small-batch bourbon. Given the working-class locale, Corral also offers killer deals on cases of Hamm's, Stag, Schlitz and Schaeffer. No milk, no bread, no office supplies. Just alcohol -- and a charming, knowledgeable staff. "Now that's a good, easy-drinking Chardonnay," Joe Billhartz, the wine and import-beer manager, says of a midprice Sterling. "A bit of oak and butter, not too sweet." Some kid stocking the shelves at Schnucks he's not. Corral has been around since the early '70s and has been independently owned and operated by Mosey Hoffmeister and Nick Jakich since 1996. They offer wine tastings -- the next will be Nov. 12 -- and an annual microbeer sampling, more than worth the drive. At Corral you'll find impeccable brews like New Glarus (Wisconsin), Staroprumen (Prague), Ommegang (Cooperstown, N.Y.), EKU (11 percent alcohol, from Germany), and what many consider the finest beer in the Midwest, Bell's Oberon (Kalamazoo, Mich.). Beer and wine prices are always competitive, sometimes a steal, but the selection and service at Corral are simply untouchable.
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