What day is this… man?

October 18, 2020 Leave a comment

“We may be living in Hell World,
but no one said the comedy was bad.”
– Michael Brooks

Hey Free Rangers,

A bit of chaos this week. The numbers were great, and too much business is a dubious thing about which to complain, but there was also a significant uptick in people ignoring our signage, and coming in 3 or 4 people at a time (often to  buy one bottle). As we’ve been keeping it to 4 people or less for social distancing, it doesn’t take much for a line to form, and for crowd control to become an issue. I am well aware that 99.9% of people who do this kind of thing are not any of you faithful regulars (and/or e-mail readers) that keep us going, but I rarely actually get a chance to properly bitch at the people causing the issues, while said chaos is underway, so thanks for letting me vent. Conversely, I don’t blame you, if you’ve already skipped ahead to the sale at the bottom.

It would definitely help if any of you who know ahead of time what you’re seeking would purchase online for pick-up: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com. And huge thanks to those of you who continue to go this route. We’ve gotten much more efficient with picking and packing time, though deliveries don’t always go out as quickly as we’d like- especially on weekends. Sorry about that, and thank you all for your continued support and patience. 8 months into this pandemic, there is still no cohesive national response or policy, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, regardless of what the Orange Orangutan in the Oval (and all form of online idiot) has to say. We are all very much still in it together.

It always amazes me how much outside life alters the wine world. And while it’s easy to see and quantify how a popular film like Sideways can increase the perception and consumption of Pinot Noir (and brutally slander Merlot), completely unrelated events can also have outsized effect. While I don’t have numbers to back it up, I feel that Ponzi Vineyards took a perceptual hit when Madoff’s unconscionable shenanigans, widely shorthanded as a Ponzi scheme, put a new dark spotlight on the name, regardless of the quality and sustainability of the wines. The name of Charles Ponzi is synonymous with money draining scams, and has been since the ‘20s, but this caused new focus on the old term via this widely publicized newer thief. The Ponzis of Vineyard fame are not related to the infamous Charles. Sadly, Comedy Central has Drunk History episodes locked down, such that I couldn’t link the applicable scene. Real news.

Regardless of the reason, Ponzi’s Reserve Chardonnay has been consistently discounted in our market for such a period of time, that for multiple vintages we’ve been selling it for about fifteen bucks less than the vineyard charges on site (and on website). This is an absolutely exemplary American Chard that is the perfect antidote for people who think they hate Chardonnay, because they’ve only had Kendall-Jackson (which tastes like a buttered 2×4, smothered in a sauce of balsa wood and Werther’s Originals), and we’ve been ecstatic to be able to offer it at $30 per bottle.

Very recently, the same local distributor put closeout pricing on some of Ponzi’s rarest single vineyard wines, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit how little we paid for all remaining Ponzi Chard Aurora Vineyard 2014 in New York. Good Chard ages quite well, and 2014 was a particularly long lived vintage across the board for Willamette, OR. If you’d like to buy some of this same wine from the two most recent vintages, Ponzi has them on their website for $65 per bottle (and worth every penny). However, we have the absolutely delicious 2014 on the shelf at $44, and this week, we can offer it to you at $35/btl, or a 6-pack at $29/btl plus a FREE tote and FREE bonus bottle from my personal collection (which could be literally anything)!

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Ponzi Chard Aurora Vineyard 2014
sale: $35                                    retail: $44

6-pack Ponzi Chard Aurora Vineyard 2014 + FREE BOTTLE from my personal collection (+ free wine tote)!
sale: $174 ($29/btl)            retail: $264

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Categories: Uncategorized

… And I feel fine.

October 4, 2020 Leave a comment

Hello Free Rangers,

Cops continue to meet protests against their unregulated lawless violence with more unregulated lawless violence, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Convention. The main structures of our government and democracy have been irrevocably deliberately eroded, and thousands of career non-partisan public servants have been pushed out, being replaced by unqualified partisan operatives, or by no one at all. Our President and Attorney General are openly speaking about how they mean to subvert the upcoming election, with or without the help of hostile foreign powers. Securities markets continue to flirt with record highs, while more and more Americans tumble into poverty. The global pandemic only seems to be still raging in a few places, but our country is one. The American judiciary is overrun with bible literalists who will be adjudicating to the benefit of faceless corporations, and a bastardized imagining of Jesus, as long as most of us shall live.

Yup, Free Rangers, it really is that bad out there. Western capitalist democracy is in real trouble, largely because of the unchecked capitalism, and the single-minded determination of the religious right. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit scared, and am kind of kicking myself for not selling this joint early in the year, so I could vote early, and be far away for the inevitable dustup. But we’re still here on Atlantic Ave, slinging booze, gearing up, and hunkering down for gifting season, assuming that’s a thing that still happens this year. #2020 Regardless, I can confirm that the whiskey still works.

In wine, whiskey, or any other category of tasty intoxicant, there is no substitute for palate experience, especially comparative tasting. I have learned an amazing amount about the variations to be found in the glass, do to tiny variations of what takes place in barrel (true, not all wine & spirits involve barrel aging). One of my greatest revelations of the last decade was that the age of the whiskey barrel has less to do with the flavor of the finished bourbon, than the floor of the rickhouse. After our tasting with Heaven Hill to choose our second Elijah Craig Barrel, we noticed that all of our favorites were from the 5th and 6th floors, regardless of warehouses or age of the barrel; always the top two floors. The higher the floor, the closer to the ceiling, the greater the heat and pressure changes (daily and seasonally) of the barrel, and the quicker and/or more vigorous the aging of the spirit inside. Air flow within each warehouse is also a huge factor, which is why the barrels that end up being selected for Heaven Hill’s very darkest, richest, and most exclusive Bourbon (William Heavenhill), always come from the same locations in the same warehouses.

It’s often tempting to simply pick the oldest barrel offered, as the higher the age statement, the more we can charge, but we generally go for the best/most intriguing barrel (or two) of the bunch. And the last two times we tasted Elijah Craig barrel samples, the best/most interesting barrels were the 8 year(s). For the first time ever, we have two exceptional single barrels, of the same age, bottled in the same year, on the shelf simultaneously. The barrel that arrived earlier this year is an Elijah Craig 8 year Bourbon from the 5th floor of Warehouse N, while the barrel that just arrived is an Elijah Craig 8 year Bourbon from the 6th floor of Warehouse X.

I hesitate to give too many tasting notes, as coming up with one’s own is half the fun, but both Derek and I find the Warehouse N to be lighter and more yellow visually, and have more prevalent dry, woody, and yeasty characteristics, with a slightly softer finish. The Warehouse X bottling comes off as more fruit forward, with cherry notes up front, and a spicier, bolder finish, with a touch more bite. For the price of 2 bottles of the regular Elijah Craig small batch (one of the best values in world whiskey), you can grab a tasting pair of our two Elijah Craig 8yr Single Barrels.

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Elijah Craig Free Range 8yr Bourbon 2-pack
sale: $58                        retail: $72

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Categories: Uncategorized

Time Immemorial

September 26, 2020 Leave a comment

 

Howdy Free Rangers,

First, there is soon to be a new Secret Whiskey List going out. This is our separate mailing list for (first come, first served) unpublished whiskey sales, and generally represents our lowest price of the year on the whiskeys on said list. If you have never received one of these, please click here and enter your preferred info (even if you think you signed up in the shop), and we’ll make sure you don’t miss out. Please feel free to share that link with other worthy whiskey nerds.

They say time is on our side. At least the Stones thought so, but that was a long time ago (they were young and high); another era, burned out and long forgotten, from this foul year of our lord, Two Thousand and Twenty. But that’s not the case. Time is not on our side. It has a singular agenda, and is otherwise unimpressionable. While it seems to still be a linear measure, so far as I can tell, our perception of it continues to grow more elastic as it moves along. Is it just me, or does every impending tomorrow seem like a never-ending yesterday (like Groundhog Day, but without Bill Murray, and it’s not funny at all)? Time out of Mind indeed. I’ve been re-reading Beaudrillard, so probably best that I leave you with just the tip of this particular iceberg, and move on to our discounted rarity of the week.

As many of you know, my favorite American whiskey (and probably in the world) is St. George Single Malt. It’s released once a year, as a vintage batch, and while it is always excellent, it varies from year to year fairly significantly. St. George Spirits is the original micro-distiller in America, and has been distilling in Alameda, CA since the early ‘80s. Besides their rare and magical whiskeys, they bottle some of the best gin, vodka, brandies, and liqueurs in the world. Their anniversary single malt releases are a profound (and profoundly rare) story for another time, but when the 40th is released, it’ll be harder to come by than front row Radiohead tickets (in the before time, when concerts were still a thing). Regardless of these variations, we get a max of 6 bottles per year (no retailer in the state gets more), and as such, it is rather expensive.

A few years back St. George introduced The Baller, a different, lighter single malt whiskey, whose name is a play on ‘highball’, and whose bottle wears one of the coolest labels in the industry. While this one does also vary from batch to batch, the quality is consistently high, and it’s a fresh, lighter style (un-peated) Single Malt. If you are into the classic Highball Cocktail, it’ll work out perfectly, but most I know tend to sip it straight. For the first several years of its existence, this release didn’t leave California, and demand has always exceeded supply. Since becoming available in our market, we can usually get a 6-pack two or three times per year. But with the recent shake-up at one of the two major distributors, 160 cases appeared in open inventory (though wholesale price did go up a bit). As you can imagine, we snapped up a good few of those. Hence the below lowest price we’ve ever offered on a truly unique and (usually) very limited American whiskey.

Click on the link below to add a bottle w/ coupon code to your cart!

St. George Single Malt The Baller            sale: $75            retail: $129

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

No means yes… in wine shopping.

September 16, 2020 Leave a comment

 

Hey Free Rangers,

First, for those who have asked (and thank you for that), while it’s not a complete archive, there is a MailChimp page that displays our 20 most recent e-mails (all previous sales have expired). I do also have a (somewhat neglected) blog, on which I have *tried* to log these messages. There are many other entries from years of its original incarnation as a mishmash of wine, restaurant, and music reviews: www.WineGeist.net. [Obviously, you know about the blog. You’re reading it. Thanks!] Unfortunately, I’m old enough that the vast majority of my published work appeared in physical magazines, before all content was a multi-media simulcast, remaining in clickable suspended animation indefinitely. And for those of you who specifically did not ask, thanks for bearing with an indulgent moment. We now return to your regular program, already in progress…

Why do so many people want to tell you ‘no’ in response to a simple question, when their intent is quite clearly, directly ‘yes’? All obvious innuendo aside.
Example:

Me: Hey, how are you? Is there anything I can help you find?
Customer: No… Just looking for a dry rosé.

So, would this individual like assistance in finding a dry rosé or would they prefer to be left alone, but really want me to know what they’re looking for, so I can seethe with frustration, as I watch them stroll right by the location in our shop where the item(s) in question live? Often the response to my face value query is even less vague, going directly from ‘no’ into what can only be construed as a question:

Me: Any questions about any of this stuff?
Customer: No. What sorts of Bourbon do you have?
Me: You know that’s a question, right?

As I’m writing this, Derek asks a guy if he has any questions, to which he replies, “No, I’m just looking for a gin,” and then asks a direct question about our gins. When ‘yes’ and ‘no’ cease to have constant meaning in the same mode of communication, we’re well beyond Bill Clinton territory, and are deep into Newspeak. It’s a horrifying thing, the destruction of words. Basic verbal communication has become a laborious endeavor, deeply fraught with inherent conflict. It’s double-plus un-good. On tougher days, I like to turn and walk away upon the ‘no’ and am often out of the room by the time they turn around to look at me, in the middle of the question that follows. I’d feel bad about how hard I’m giggling in back, except that I had just been lied to, for no reason at all, which makes it okay. Under Bush the Elder, Robert Anton Wilson referred to the art of saying that which is not, as “Old High Bullshit”, not be confused with “Middle Low Horseshit”, which seeks to use language to say nothing at all. But that level of deception by the orator is deliberate, and insidious. Somehow, when there is no ill intent at its core, the removal of all traditional linguistic bulwark seems even more dangerous. (Literally.) The basic structures of what’s left of American English, along with the structures of civilized society, are exponentially (and existentially) beyond the looking-glass. Fake News! Jabberwocky/Bandersnatch 2020!

[imagine seamless segue about here]

Ridge Vineyards is one the most classic, most iconic American wine labels, and that stylish label text has looked the same since the early ‘60s. Ridge is most famous for their old school Bordeaux style blend from their Monte Bello Estate which ages as gracefully as any wine in the world, and has become quite expensive, and rather difficult to acquire. But as old vine zinfandel is one of the most quintessential of CA red, it has always been in Ridge’s zin based blends that I have found the greatest intrigue and value (though they too have been getting pricier). I genuinely don’t believe you can a have a decent wine shop without at least one Ridge label on the shelf; we have lots. Their juice is unquestionably delicious, and historically significant, but I’d also argue that Ridge labels are as visually timeless and distinct as Domaine Romanée-Conti, the granddaddy of all Burgundy.

Lytton Springs Estate is Ridge’s primary Sonoma property, which is home to 100+ year old zinfandel vines, interplanted with Petite Sirah, Carignan, and small amounts of Mataro (Mourvedre) and Grenache. You can’t fake 100 year old vines, and they consistently produce deep, dark wines of complexity and character. Normally long sold out from the distributor before the next vintage arrives, this year of the zombie apocalypse has found them with an ample supply of the 2017 vintage, as the 2018 is about to be released in our market. We took full advantage of the 10 case discount and while full retail price on this lovely beast is officially over $50, we can do quite a bit better for you. How does $39 per bottle sound? Perhaps you’d prefer a 6-pack at under $35/btl w/ a FREE wine tote, and a FREE bonus bottle from my personal collection (which could be literally anything)!

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Ridge Lytton Springs 2017
sale: $39                        retail: $49

6-pack Ridge Lytton Springs 2017 + FREE BOTTLE from my personal collection (+ free wine tote)!
sale: $209 ($34.83/btl)            retail: $294

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

50 Cent + 49 pennies…

September 13, 2020 Leave a comment

 

99¢. It’s the original deception in American marketing. Retail’s original sin. It’s the little white lie at the slipperiest pinnacle of the main slope of modern commerce. Perhaps deception is too deliberate a word, maybe it’s more accurate to call it low level trickery, but that doesn’t roll of the tongue as readily. That a majority of all retail products in this country end in .99 has always bothered me. It’s true that there is stalwart psychological principle behind it, and anecdotally, the first six months our little shop was open, I didn’t think that anyone would every spend over $19 on a bottle of wine. But one of the first things I decided we would do differently than most other shops is to have all of our products priced in whole dollars. I’d rather charge 99¢ less for every product (or occasionally round up), rather than insulting and lying to every customer for a buck (literally). It’s far from a revolutionary idea, it just seems more honest this way. If I’m going to be selling legal poison (beautiful as they may be), I feel like we should be straight about every aspect of it. So much of our daily discourse rests on a foundation of fundamental deception, and I’d rather not throw barrel proof bourbon on that particular dumpster fire. It’s a waste of good bourbon. Trust a $1 Store. The 99¢ Store has something to hide.

Everybody seems to be churning out their fall themed marketing already. How many e-mails can I be expected to read about the end of summer, while it remains 85 degrees outside, and our cooling bill is still approaching 4 figures this month? And now, the weather report: you’ve got a window? Open it.

As most of you know, the way we are often able to offer our deeper discounts is by taking advantage of high quantity pricing. Sometimes we get such a good value that even what we consider full mark-up puts our retail price below what the producer considers minimum public pricing for the bottle in question, and many smaller producers (and their distributors) actively police this (which we respect). Last week, we were asked to raise our online price for Rivetto Barolo Serralunga 2016, one of the best deals in Barolo (where the nebbiolo is wonderful, but can get quite expensive), from a superior vintage. Not only are Rivetto’s wines dry and delicious, and quite a bit less expensive than comparable labels, but they are certified biodynamic, in a region not always synonymous with clean practices. $59.99 is the lowest retail price allowed, but we don’t do 99¢, so we raised our online retail price from $55 to $59, making our (slightly higher) price still the very best advertised price on this vintage of this wine in the country. But since a private e-mail blast isn’t a publicly published offer, we can do pretty much whatever we want, so who wants a lovely bottle of $59(.99) Barolo for $49 per bottle?! If you’d like to go for a very reduced price mixed 6-pack of 3 bottles each Rivetto Barolo ’16 and Rivetto Langhe Nebbiolo ’17, I’ll throw in a FREE bonus bottle from my personal collection (which could be literally anything)!

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Rivetto Barolo Serralunga ’16
sale: $49            retail: $59

Mixed 6-pack: (3 x Rivetto Barolo ‘16, 3 x Rivetto Langhe Nebbiolo ’17) + FREE BOTTLE from my personal collection (+ free wine tote)!
sale: $199                        retail: $246

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

When I fight authority… well, you know.

August 5, 2020 Leave a comment

 

“Then I ran across a monster who was sleeping by a tree,
and I looked and frowned and the monster was me.”
– David Bowie (from Width of a Circle)

More of the same, Free Rangers.

People ignoring signs, ignoring words, strolling around with no intent to purchase anything. That same jackass whiskey bro came back again, still hasn’t bought anything, this time holding a rag over his face in lieu of an actual mask, and carrying a bag full of bottles from other shops. I’m sure he darkened all of those shopkeepers’ days too. That’s the Cliff’s Notes version. I’m tired of hearing myself bitch, and a lot of you have already gotten the full stories in person. Thanks for asking, and caring about how we’re doing. A little sincerity goes a long way toward counteracting the effects of those who care less, or not at all. But just to be clear about this one thing: if you pull a bottle out of the fridge (which has a sign on it asking you not to do that) to ask me how it is, I’ll say whatever is necessary to get you to not put it back. If you’d like to have an honest and complete conversation, let’s do that in front of the shelves. And I don’t get how some don’t understand that it’s deeply insulting to ask a question whose answer you can’t hear because you’re wearing headphones. I took three whole days off this week, and a couple of half days, which hasn’t seemed to take the edge off.

Remember when these e-mails were mostly about our in-store tastings for the week? Good times, great oldies. I really miss those tastings days. As I’m sure you noticed, when we invite(d, in the before times) someone to pour here, they were generally on the production team of the bottles they were showing, and/or were something of an expert in their field. I miss the learning on my end as much as I do the sharing (of tasting notes and bottles), and introducing you fine folks to wine and spirits you might have otherwise never tasted. There is no substitute for palate experience. The vast majority of my own knowledge stems from public tastings in my 20s. So much of life seems a holding pattern these days, and it’s getting older than I am.

I know how lucky we are to be in a business where numbers-wise, things haven’t really changed, though the work per dollar has increased by several times. In parts of the country, unemployment is nearing 30%, while Jeff Bezos’ wealth has increased by $15 billion since March, a profound failure of equity for the richest country on Earth. We’ve been able to maintain a full staff here, and keep everybody paid, and until fairly recently, supply chains in our industry were relatively intact. But with the number of distributors cutting staff, and/or failing completely, the greater infrastructure we rely on to do our daily business is crumbling. And things that used to require a simple e-mail, can now take 4 or 5 e-mails, with a couple of phones calls, and return of the wrong product (or the right products, severely damaged) in between. Sure, we still have a profitable business, but every little thing is so much more time consuming, and less enjoyable, than it was for the previous 7 years.

It’s hard to take a considered look around (our industry and the country as a whole) and not think that this may very well be the end of the ill-fated experiment known as capitalist democracy. Anybody who still doesn’t get that Bernie Sanders was our once in a generation (lifetime?) chance to change all that had better buckle up for what comes next. Speaking of which, does anybody want to buy a wine shop? Got seven years left on a very favorable lease. I’d really rather be out of the country by the first week in November, if I can swing it. I’ll be in New Zealand, if you need me… maybe the Netherlands… or Berlin. I suppose it depends upon which countries are still allowing entry to citizens from the land of the free, and the home of the virulent thugs.

Usual (pandemic) open hours this week (though we rarely shut the door at posted closing time), the website is humming along, and please feel free to call with any questions (718.643.2250): www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com

We received very little response to our last sale, and a record number of unsubscribes- though not a concerning amount, given the weight of my last missive. I believe that last discount list contained some of our best offers on rarest wine to date. So rather than shoot in the dark again, and miss, I’ll pose a question, and base the next sale on your responses. On what sorts of items (or combination thereof) would you like to see a deal? In the meantime, here are some more complete thoughts on those same bottles, which again are 15% off this week, click here to view the sale page, then add this coupon code in your cart: august15.

Joyce Syrah 2018 is a tiny production old-world style wine from an immaculately farmed plot in the Santa Lucia Highlands of CA; medium bodied, dry fruit, lovely florals, and just a hint of spice (white pepper?). Some fancy guy at some fancy magazine just rated it 90-something points, so we can’t get any more. Normally $34/btl, $28.90 w/ coupon code: august15

Kelley Fox Pinot Blanc 2019, by its endlessly magical namesake, is totally natural, but super clean (no sediment or clouding), bright and crisp, showing light dry stone fruit, and a laser focus to the acidity. You would be hard pressed to come up with a meal this wine would not enhance. Normally $37/btl, $31.45 w/ coupon code: august15

Bechtold Pinot Noir “S” 2017 is a remarkable Pinot at its price. Very high pedigree grapes from Alsace, from 50 year old vines, certified biodynamic, with zero suphur added, this is deliciously pure Pinot finished in old 500 liter barrels. Tasting blind, I would expect to pay at least double the retail price. Normally $39/btl, $33.15 coupon code: august15

Domaine Forey is an old school Burgundy (Pinot Noir) producer whose wine I have been collecting for 20 years. This house uses oak barrels, but huge ones that have been used many times before (neutral), so they don’t impart any oak flavor to the finished wine. Their 2017 Vosne-Romanée is just about the purity of fruit from one of the most lauded pieces of earth in the wine world. Normally $79/btl, $67.15 w/ coupon code: august15

Heitz has been around since the ‘60s, and their unreasonably expensive (and rare) Martha’s Vineyard bottling is one of the gold standards of old guard Napa, and it ages effortlessly for decades. Their Trailside Vineyard Cab produces slightly less concentrated classic CA cab that is far from a pushover, but it does drink better in its youth than its big brother, at 1/3rd of the price. 2013 was a banner vintage, and this will likely be the last one we can get on the shelf at under $100. Normally $99/btl, $84.15 w/ coupon code: august15

***Through Sunday only, as supplies last, no further discounts apply.***

Keep on keepin’ on,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Living the Dream

August 2, 2020 Leave a comment

Hey Free Rangers,

Another peach of a week, here on the Range, and out there in the world. I honestly don’t know where to begin. Yes I do. As I’ve mentioned a few times here, and constantly in person, besides a few trusted online sources for empirical data, I’ve curbed my news consumption mostly to The Majority Report and The Michael Brooks Show, though I do like to check in with reports by Katy Tur, and Krystal Ball, during the day. I was watching Majority Report live on the afternoon of the 20th, toward the end of the show, Sam Seder’s mouth drops open after looking down at a screen, and the ‘fun half’ of the show ends abruptly. Michael Brooks had died at 37 years old. He was the youngest person I can think of who I consider a hero, and I genuinely aspire to be more like him. I barely made it through the Majority Report tribute to Michael Brooks the next day, I don’t know how they held it together.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of Michael Brooks to the progressive movement at large. I don’t throw around the word genius lightly, but the sheer amount of knowledge he amassed, and the number of world concerns he understood on a molecular level (and could explain to the rest of us without a hint of condescension) is humbling. MacArthur missed the boat on this one. That he was also a man of infinite empathy, and profound humor is what made him one of the finest communicators of the digital era, and why he was certain to change the world for the better, which seemed his only real goal. I’m a pretty cynical guy, and Michael Brooks gave me real hope. He and John Lewis were two of the sturdiest pillars in my personal Pantheon of necessary Agents of Good (Trouble), and the world lost that unfathomable gentleman last week as well.

Not to mention the unnamed federal agents in major US cities throwing private citizens into unmarked cars, which without probable cause, or declaration of offense, is kidnapping, in any democracy. And there’s the incalculable toll American law enforcement continues to perpetrate with absolute impunity on any peaceful citizen they damned well please, most especially people of color (#BLM), and anyone without enough money for proper legal representation.
Dark days, my friends.

In the micro: This was also the lowest point for our new credit card processor(s), and it seems a small handful of customers were double charged, and a smaller few were charged for phantom invoices. Derek has corrected the issue, and everyone involved has been refunded (we believe), with our sincere apologies. If anybody thinks they were overcharged for anything recently (7/2 – 7/20), please shoot us a note, and we’ll get to the bottom of it. I assure you, it wasn’t deliberate, and it is no longer occurring. Thanks, as always, for your patience and support.

The next day, a guy comes in, dumps a bunch of change on the sales counter and asks for quarters for the parking machine, which we give him, doesn’t buy anything. Comes back and hour later, asks a bunch of questions about rum, doesn’t buy anything. Comes back in another hour, doesn’t say anything to us, parks himself inside, blocking the front, and makes a phone call. I ask him to please take his conversation outside (a policy posted visibly- in words and pictures- on 2 walls, the fridge, and twice on the front door, since the outset of the pandemic), to which he replies, “fuck this place.” Derek’s Zen may have been the only thing that stopped me from potentially incurring an assault charge. This kind of stuff seems to be happening fairly frequently these days.

There were a few moments this week when I was tempted to lock the place early, head home, and turn off all devices for a few days. It’s been a tough stretch, even by current standards, but we are grateful as always to our encouraging regulars, who make what we do both possible and fun (most of the time). And I’m not sure what I would do without your four-legged friends, especially my spirit animal, Fred the terrier. If you don’t see much of me this week, I might be taking some mental health days. Please be kind to our team, every one of them is nicer than I am. If you want to talk about any old and rare bottles most of which they have not tasted, please feel free to shoot me a note directly: jack@freerangebrooklyn.com

Usual open hours, we’ve got a website, call with any questions (718.643.2250), blah, blah, blah: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com

Holy cr@p, you made it to the sale! Go team. Click here to access a coupon code for 15% off each of the following notable recent arrivals. A beautifully understated CA Syrah, one of my two favorite Pinot Blanc in existence (under $85), an Alsatian Pinot Noir that drinks like a red Burgundy 3 times the price, a wonderfully old school red Burgundy from the rarest of earth, and the last single vineyard Cab from one the most classic Napa estates that we can get on the shelf under $100 (in that order below):

retail:
Joyce Syrah Tondre Grapefield 2018           $34
Kelley Fox Pinot Blanc Freedom Hill 2019    $37
Bechtold Alsace Pinot Noir “S” 2017            $39
Domaine Forey Vosne-Romanée 2017         $79
Heitz Cab Trailside Vineyard 2013                $99

***This week only, as supplies last, no further discounts apply.***

Take care of each other.

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Baseball, retail, and square bottles of whisky.

July 24, 2020 Leave a comment

Howdy Free Rangers,

Okay, so this is weird. It seems the wrong people are becoming a bit afraid of me. Let me first say this: If you are reading this e-mail and have enough empathy in your heart to have ever wondered what it’s like to be on our side of the sales counter, you are not one of the people whose story makes it into these chronicles, about customers that drive us mad. Meanwhile, that same whiskey bro I bitched about last time apparently came back while I was out and started pointing to bottles behind the counter and offering Derek “cash prices” (tax free) below retail. Since it’s illegal to not charge sales tax, he was really asking for a double discount. This guy has yet to put a penny into our business, and is only interested in our very rarest items, so not sure why he thinks anybody would want to give him a deal and incentivize his return.

Conversely, we have endless patience for, and take great enjoyment in, honest questions about wine and spirits, no matter how simple or complex. I can talk about the differences between Bourbon and Rye, or the subtle similarities shared by Pinot Noir and Syrah, all day. That’s kind of how I ended up here. And while I know a fair amount about these things, I certainly don’t know everything about anything. Part of what’s so cool about the world of wine & spirits is that any true student of the game is always learning. Though I suppose one could say that about any worthwhile discipline, and/or student. Whatever you’re into, if you genuinely believe there’s nothing more for you to learn there, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Reps, colleagues, and customers bring things to my attention all the time that result in questions and research on my end, which really is part of the fun. At some point, I reallocated all of the brain space that used to contain sports stats and trivia; so while I no longer remember who played 3rd base for the Pittsburg Pirates in 1960, I can tell you with relative confidence that unless you have a profoundly rare acute allergy- which completely prevents you from ever eating deli meat or dried apricots- it wasn’t the miniscule amount of sulfites in the wine that caused your headache last Friday. But seriously, please don’t stand in front of the fridge when you enter the shop. Those same bottles are priced on the wall (low to high), where the lights are on, five more feet into the building. Also, you’re blocking the front door, which isn’t cool to us, other patrons, or to the tenets of basic social distancing. Please help us out here.

Re: sports stats, baseball was my first love, and I do still remember that Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record on April 8th, 1974. He also once graciously let me interview him for a high school term paper on Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball. April 8th, was also the birthday of Mets’ great, Gary Carter, who wore #8 on his jersey, while his knees slowly disintegrated behind home plate. Gary was also super nice to an awkward adolescent me, and autographed just about everything I owned, during a few consecutive spring breaks of leaning over the rail at pre-season ballgames in West Palm Beach. It is for these reasons that even though I haven’t followed team sports for many years, I do still celebrate Baseball Day every April 8th. Please feel free to bring your own peanuts and Crackerjacks. Hopefully by next spring we’ll be hosting in-store tastings, and we can pour the perfect pairing for that.

This week’s Open Hours remain (though we’ve been staying open later than posted fairly frequently).

Mon – Thurs:             1 – 7pm
Fri – Sat:                      1 – 8pm
Sunday:                       1 – 7pm

Always worth a call, if you think it’s getting late: 718.643.2250

[NOTE: THIS SALE IS OVER, to receive e-mails directly from Free Range Wine & Spirits (while the sales are active), please enter your e-mail address at the bottom of the front page on our site: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com]

Congratulations on making it to the sale portion or our show! Unfortunately, I’m not tech savvy enough to generate a coupon code without Derek here, so we’re going with an old fashioned must-re:-this-e-mail style offer right now! I suppose it’s also radio call-in style, because the next 6 people to reply with intent to purchase, shall receive 1 bottle of Nikka From the Barrel Japanese Whisky @ $99 (usually $139), first e-mailed, first served!

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down and Out on Atlantic Avenue

July 20, 2020 Leave a comment

Hey Free Rangers,

The (whiskey) bottle hunters are back, and I’m not handling it well. Also had a non-masker be fairly aggressive with us (and a couple of customers), who later came back with a mask, seemingly attempted fraud, and then removed said mask to make a phone call at the counter, as a line began to form. Contrary to what some may believe, I take no joy in telling someone to get out and never come back (particularly in front of other customers), but that’s how this one ended, after some fairly predictable expletives were exchanged. It was a bit of a crazy moment, so I can’t be certain, but it seems as though this was also the source of the knife that was abandoned on our sales counter. Eight years into our 15 year lease on Atlantic Ave, and things have never been weirder. May we live in interesting times, indeed.

But back to the bottle hunters: If you’ve ever gone into a shop, spent 20 minutes telling the shopkeepers stories about bottles you’ve bought elsewhere, only to walk out without spending a penny, you’re probably not as decent a person as you think you are. If you’ve done this during a global pandemic, you’re very likely what my bluntest uncle used to refer to as BAM (basic asshole material). We have a genuinely sweet, conscientious landlord (which is rare in this town), but even she won’t accept a story about the $800 you spent on 2 bottles of Willett XCF– in another state- in lieu of rent. This kind of guy will never understand why he doesn’t have access to our rarest stuff, or favorable (negotiable) pricing. Spending ten bucks vs. zero really is the difference between being invited to receive our unpublished e-mail sales, and not.

The same week, a customer came in looking for a few serious bottles of the brown stuff for a wedding-related event. He was friendly and inquisitive, we had a nice conversation, I pulled quotes on all sorts of rare items that aren’t on the web site, and we talked about the differences, and scarcities. In the end he selected 4 rare American whiskeys, for which we took $250 off his bill. I’m a collector turned retailer and really just want our rarest bottles to go to good homes. We’re like a dog rescue, but for whiskey.

To run with the metaphor, would you let a guy adopt a dog who tells loud stories about other dogs he’s known without ever looking at the animal you’re fostering? To sit, shake, lie down, and rollover with that metaphor… well, you get the picture. In honor of all those bottle hunters who are not on this e-mail list, check out the bottom of this note for some serious discounts on rare bottles.

This week’s Open Hours remain the same:

Mon – Thurs:             1 – 7pm
Fri – Sat:                      1 – 8pm
Sunday:                       1 – 7pm

Always worth a call, if you think it’s getting late: 718.643.2250

NOTE: THIS SALE IS OVER, to receive e-mail sales directly from Free Range Wine & Spirits, please enter your e-mail address at the bottom of the front page on our site: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com

This week only!                                               sale:     retail:
Elijah Craig Free Range Single Barrel 8yr       $29       $36
Writers Tears gift set                                        $37        $44
EH Taylor Small Batch Bourbon                       $49        $56
The Clover 10yr Tennessee Straight Bourbon $69     $85
Henry McKenna Bourbon 10yr**                      $69     $89
Blood Oath Bourbon Pact No. 6**                   $109     $129
Yamazaki Single Malt 12yr                                $115     $135
St George Single Malt The Baller**                  $89     $149
Hakushu Single Malt 12yr                                  $149     $185
Dalmore Single Malt 18yr**                               $195     $249
Hakushu Single Malt 18yr                                 $425     $525

** limit 2 bottles per customer

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Sigmund Fraud (sp?, we know)…

July 8, 2020 Leave a comment

 

Hello Free Rangers,

It’s humid, it’s stormy, our AC bills are through the roof, and we seem to be spending two thirds of our workday pulling people out of the refrigerator. Yup, it’s summer (in and out of the bottle). This was a fun one: A well-dressed woman comes in with a large stroller, and a walking, talking, fully coordinated child (too old for a stroller?). She parks the stroller blocking the front door, takes things out of the refrigerator that she then asks us to put back, allows her kid to pick up bottles, and hang on the fridge door. When I gently suggest (the third time) that she view the Champagne on the wall, where the lights are on and prices are listed, she immediately pulls another bottle from the fridge and asks how much it is, to which I reply, “the price is right over here, where I’ve asked you to look three times.” She shoots me an icy glare and growls, “Am I doing something that’s bothering you?” Yeah, it’s been that kind of a week.

Endless thanks to our friendly neighborhood regulars who let us vent, and have already heard this one; and to all of our four-legged friends, who lower my blood pressure, daily, with their furry sincerity. You’re always welcome to swing through for dog treats on a walk, whether or not you need a bottle for the road. Aside from the usual seasonal downturn in sales and uptick in obliviousness, we’re seeing a significant rise in attempted fraud, and almost exclusively for one product: Clase Azul Reposado Tequila. In fact, out of everyone (that isn’t already in our system) who has tried to purchase Clase Azul this year, only one person had a credit card with a chip and a valid ID with the same name that was on the card.

Clase Azul is a fraud magnet to a completely unprecedented degree. Most fraudsters want to pay with Apple Pay and show you a picture of an ID on their phone. Because of this, our policy on this product is that if a new customer even mentions Clase Azul, they must present a credit card with a working chip, a valid NY State drivers license in perfect condition, and a third form of ID with the same name. But we’d really prefer to sell what Clase Azul remains to our local friends at a discount, and then stop carrying it entirely. Scroll to the bottom for the details, and a link to the coupon code on our website.

Status quo on our weekly open hours, which look like this (though on nicer days, when folks tend to come in later, we have been staying open later than posted):

Mon – Thurs:              1 – 7pm
Fri – Sat:                      1 – 8pm
Sunday:                       1 – 7pm

Always worth a call, if you think it’s getting late: 718.643.2250

The website is running well, and there’s some cool new (and old) stuff that’s just been added: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com

Here’s your sale of the week; we’ve got 10 bottles left and will not be ordering more:
sale:                        retail:
Clase Azul Reposado Tequila .750             $119                        $135

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits