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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

Re-Opening Chaos and an OR Pinot Sale…

June 30, 2020 Leave a comment

Here’s the latest from Free Range Wine & Spirits:

 

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Wow Free Rangers,
Yesterday was a trying one;
the last three days, really. 

Wow cr@p, this week got away from me. I had gotten used to actually taking one day off per week- it only took a global pandemic to get me there- and now we’re back at it very near full time. We’re still re-acclimating as we head into the sweltering Dog Days.The semi-re-opening going on out there has the greater populous in a bewildered state, such that we’re being forced to beg certain patrons to enter the shop, who then expect us to apologize for everything we’re doing here, at the same time.
Example:

INT: DAY. – FREE RANGE WINE 
It’s the first day of New York’s Phase 1 reopening, the global pandemic still rages. A woman opens the front door, enters halfway, and holds the door open as she speaks, in a hurried, concerned tone. Two shopkeepers are inside, wearing face masks.

Costumer: Are you open?
Me: Yes.
Customer: I can come in?
Me: Yes, please.
Customer: Are you sure?
Me: Yes, we are open for business, you’re welcome to come in. We’re wearing masks, and maintaining social distance. Is there anything I can help you find?
Customer: (Still standing in the open doorway, holding the door open.) Aren’t you supposed to have the door open?!
Me: It’s actually illegal in New York City to keep the door open with the air conditioning running (and we have to keep it cool in here because of the wine).
Customer: No, it’s not.
Me: Yes, it really is. (Exits stage right.)

Nothing good ever happens at the corner of ignorance and certainty, so I fled to rock some inventory in the cellar and left the endlessly patient Derek to continue the conversation at surface level. I genuinely don’t know if she ever made it all the way into the shop, or if she purchased anything.

And I understand that quarantine hasn’t been fun for anybody, and that lots of folks are stir crazy, but going into a retail store to be entertained, or because you’re bored, and have no intention of buying anything- during a global pandemic– needs to stop. Two guys came in yesterday, asked for a specific, somewhat obscure product, which we have, and we said so. They discussed gleefully how our price was better than the last one they were able to find. They then asked more questions, about an even more esoteric product (that is no longer being produced!) which we also still have, because I’m a hoarder of such things. They then told us what a great shop we have, and left with nothing. I just don’t get it. Encouraging words are nice, but I am unaware of any landlord in the western world who accepts them in lieu of rent.

We’ve been avoiding it, but 3 days into the semi-re-opening of NY, and it seems we have little choice but to post fairly strict bold face rules on the front door. To the vast majority of you who make our daily lives more pleasant, and to the 99.9% of you who wear face masks, I apologize in advance, but the obliviousness and entitlement we’ve seen in the last few days is raising the collective blood pressure in here to an untenable level.

We’re back to fairly normal hours, which look like this (until further notice):

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 each week contains more items, new and old: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com

Thanks for tolerating the rant, we’re a little frayed in here. Just for that, we’ll bring back the Brittan Pinot Noir 2015 sale, one of our most popular ever. I am of the belief that this exquisite wine is in the 99th percentile of quality per dollar world Pinot at its full retail price, and it’s one I collect personally. It’s live on the website right now, no coupon code necessary!
** Through next Monday, as supplies last! **
sale:          retail:
Brittan Pinot Noir Basalt 2015                      $29            $39

Deep breaths,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

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Death, Taxes, and Dad Whiskey

June 17, 2020 Leave a comment

Here’s the latest from Free Range Wine & Spirits:

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Hello Free Rangers,

So much for the waning pandemic. By the end of the week, a number of states had certified a record rate of new cases, and as much as the Orange Orangutan in the Oval insisted that the virus would ‘disappear like a miracle’, the warmer weather has not cooked it away. At this point, it’s abundantly clear that the national policy on the matter is to continue to do nothing, besides ensuring that none of us will ever know where the bulk of the stimulus funds have gone. Regardless, we’re still hanging in, doing what we do here. Hanging in is the new kicking ass.

Besides tracking empirical data through trusted online sources, I’ve recently limited my non-print news intake to Chris HayesMajority Report, and The Michael Brooks Show. There’s a fine line between staying up to date, and infringing on one’s own well-being. As with most other things, moderation seems to be the key. With the constant bombardment by unchecked sources of information, it’s also important to watch videos online, taken in real time at street level. And what cops continue to do, even when they know they’re being recorded, is a daily reminder of the profoundly untenable level of impunity under which they currently operate. Remain calm, know your rights, and record everything. If you have the means, it also can’t hurt to support the ACLU.

Regardless of all of this, I can confirm that the whiskey still works. Scroll to the bottom for a list of sale-priced brown spirits on our site, now through Fathers’ Day, as supplies last.

Speaking of the website, Derek has noticed a very high percentage of people creating new passwords directly before ordering. Have any of you had problems logging back in after an initial site visit, or are you just logging in from a different device (where your password isn’t saved), and have to create a new one to gain access? Please let us know, as we’re constantly striving to make online checkout as seamless as possible. Most of this week’s new items are on the older and rarest ends, but our new lowest priced dry rosé was also just added, so there’s something for everyone: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com

We are slowly returning to a more normal schedule, but still wearing facemasks, practicing social distancing, and requesting (ie. insisting) that our customers do as well. I’m embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed asking the couple to leave today, who removed their masks to make a phone call (in front of the no cell phone sign), while others were waiting to get into the shop. Not my finest trait. Know thyself.

This week’s Open Hours look like this:

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

And now, for making it this far, here’s our deal of the week:
*** Through Fathers’ Day, web only, as supplies last! ***

Top whisk(e)y picks for Fathers’ Day:

Elijah Craig Free Range Single Barrel 8yr  $29     $36
Writers Tears gift set                                   $37     $44
Classic Malts Gift Set 3 x 200ml                $49     $59
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon (B519)   $66     $75
Booker’s Bourbon ‘Beaten Biscuits’           $79     $89
Tullamore Dew 18yr                                     $99     $115
Yamazaki 12yr                                              $115    $139
Hakushu 12yr                                                $149    $185
Dalmore 18yr                                                $195    $249
Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon (2015)  $229    $299
Hakushu 18yr                                               $425    $525
Talisker 25yr                                                 $499    $599
Redbreast Port Cask 27yr                           $499    $599

Happy hunting,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

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Free Range Wine & Spirits
329 Alantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY  11201
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The New(ish) Normal

April 3, 2020 Leave a comment

Here’s the e-mail that went out to our Free Range list last night:

Howdy Free Rangers,

We’ve been hearing this thrown around a lot: The New Normal. At this point, I take that to mean uncharted territory in every direction. Around Here, the website orders and pick-ups have been going fairly well, thanks to Derek and all of you. To get back to a little more of our usual normal, scroll to the bottom for a mini-Secret Whiskey List, of otherwise unpublished sale-priced whiskey. As many restaurants and bars aren’t ordering the volume they once did, we have access to bottles and cases that we’d normally only get a tiny taste of (or none at all), and I like to pass on discounts to you fine folks, when we can.

Now, for today’s moment of levity (and/or absurdity), which comes via Hila, who works with us when she’s not writing songs, making videos, or performing at House of Yes. Please enjoy: Quarantine Tips from Hilly & Nilly

We are still maintaining our limited days/hours schedule and are open Thursday – Sunday 1-6pm (at least). As always, please check out the web site www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com and/or call 718.643.2250 to place orders and/or ask any questions you may have. Again, most of our staples are visible online, but much of the old and rare is not yet there.

Stay hydrated, take care of yourselves, and be excellent to each other.

Most sincerely,
Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

This week only, as supplies last!
**These prices are not online, reply here! Sale     Retail
Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon        $39     $49
Bowman Brothers Single Barrel Bourbon       $49     $59
Bowman Brothers Port Barrel Bourbon          $49     $59

Delaware Phoenix Bourbon 375ml                 $28     $38
Delaware Phoenix Rye 375ml                       $28     $38

Eagle Rare 10 Year 1.75L                             $67     $85
EH Taylor Small Batch Bourbon                     $49     $65

Hibiki Harmony                                           $79     $89
Suntory Toki                                               $36     $45

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Copyright © 2019 Free Range Wine & Spirits, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a customer of Free Range Wine & Spirits.Our mailing address is:
Free Range Wine & Spirits
329 Alantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY  11201
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Riders on the Storm

March 31, 2020 Leave a comment

Here’s the e-mail that went out yesterday, for those keeping score:

Hello Free Rangers,

Another beautiful day in the apocalypse. I know most of you haven’t been thrilled with the weather lately, but I spent three of my favorite years in Seattle, and I find these grey days comforting, especially yesterday while making deliveries through that misty rain that doesn’t actually penetrate the clothing. I’ve gone through phases of fairly serious anxiety over the last few weeks, as I’m sure many of you have experienced. While I stay up to date, through factual alerts from a variety of online sources, I’ve all but stopped watching the news, which seems to have helped my overall morale. The most complete and honest assessment that has made me feel like I have a reasonable grasp on the situation came from Dr. David Price, a critical care pulmonologist at Weill Corner in Manhattan. It is one of the finest medical institutions on Earth, and is currently treating a significant number of the most serious cases in our City. I highly recommend a watch: Dr. David Price 3/27/2020

Big Thanks to everybody who has been using the website, calling in orders, and generally helping us to help you, without prolonged contact. And apologies to anyone with whom I’ve been short(er than usual). We are still getting a handful of people per day coming in because they’re bored (their words), or just to look, and/or ask random questions about generic factory products that we would never carry: How much sugar is in Bacardi Limon? Do you know if Jack Daniels vegan? I am trying to reason my way around it, but we may have to move to a pick-up only policy, for the days that we are open. More on that as developments unfold.

Regardless, we are closed again this week, today (Monday) through Wednesday, and will again be open Thursday though Sunday, 1- 6pm (at least). Please continue to use the website, for reference, pick-up orders, and limited local delivery, and we will continue to keep its inventory as up to date as possible (and continue adding more of the old and rare items): www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com And you’re always welcome to call the shop directly: 718.643.2250

I know it won’t be any time soon, but I very much look forward to being able to again host in-store tastings, and share with you, all the fun things we’ve discovered recently. Aside from everything else, it’s still an exciting time to be doing what we do. There are some wonderful things going in the worlds of vinification and distilling out there in the world, including some truly exemplary work happening right here in Brooklyn.

Stay hydrated, take care of yourselves, and be excellent to each other.

Most sincerely,
Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

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Copyright © 2019 Free Range Wine & Spirits, All rights reserved.
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Free Range Wine & Spirits
329 Alantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY  11201
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Life During Wartime

March 25, 2020 Leave a comment

This is the e-mail that went out to our Free Range e-mail list 3/23/2020 (links in this one were included in the the original e-mail), after which we’re officially caught up and Free Range e-mail blasts will be posted here, shortly after going out to our shop subscribers:

Hello Free Rangers,

On my tougher days I try to remind myself that, unlike a lot of people in the world, I didn’t wake up this morning in a war zone, or in a region on fire, or completely displaced from everything I’ve ever known. There have been a lot of days like this recently.

All told (tolled?), I am well aware that I am one of the lucky ones. While so many people are out of work and/or losing their businesses, we continue to thrive (gratefully!) amongst this wonderful neighborhood that helped us get off the ground seven years ago. I’m saying this now, as a few people have asked if they could buy gift certificates from us, seemingly to help infuse cash now for future products, rather than for gift giving. It warms our hearts to know that many of you feel this way about us, but having been deemed a necessary business, we’ve been able to stay open, and are doing quite well, by our own historical standards. And just to reiterate, while we are closed today through Wednesday, we will be open Thursday through Sunday 1-6pm (at the very least). Rest assured, everyone who works here will continue to be paid their usual full-shift amounts, regardless of hours worked, besides Derek, who will get a sizeable overtime check for his many hours of invaluable service this week.

Many local businesses are not fairing so well. Our buddy, Kareem, next door at Absolute Coffee is staying open, for take-out only. He is a hard-working, highly moral, multi-lingual immigrant just trying to live the dream, and his landlord seems uninterested in helping at all through the current crisis. So, if you need to stretch your legs, without straying too far from home, please go grab a cup of coffee or tea from him, and/or some of his delicious coffee beans to go, which he’s happy to grind for you on the spot, if you don’t have the ability at home.

You can also support our fine friends at French Louie (and Buttermilk Channel) by purchasing a gift certificate from them, and/or support their out-of-work staff(s) by donating to a fund set up to help them out: Here.

Now, for your amusement, by request from a number of you, the following were our two worst customer experiences (only two bad ones, really) since I last wrote:

1) A woman came in looking for Moscato. “Well, that’s easy,” I tell her, “as we only have one, but luckily for you, it’s quite tasty. It’s a frizzante, so it has a light bubble to it, and that quintessential white peachy sweetness. Foris was a true pioneer in the Rogue Valley of southern Oregon and have been there since 1971, when they…”
“I’ve had that one,” she interrupted, “It’s bad.”
“Oooookay,” I replied and went back to restocking our decimated shelves, not bothering to explain to her the difference between her personal taste and empirical quality. I returned from the back, many bottles in hand to find her on the phone, standing directly between all 4 of our new no cell phone signs, and pointed to the one directly in front of her, at eye level, saying as gently as humanly possible, “We have a no cell phone policy.” She rolled her eyes at me, and left.

2) Two women came in the shop, with two spaniels (whom we offered treats, but their humans neither looked at us, nor offered response). Both Derek and I offered to help, separately, and were declined. The pair walked back and forth between the fridge and the shelves, taking up space, and making social distancing impossible. We both pleaded with them to do their shopping on the wall, and assured them that if they intended to open the bottles right away, we’d be happy to get them one from the fridge. They continued doing as they pleased, and then planted themselves in front of the fridge, as a pack, completely blocking the front door. Eventually, they left in a huff, and went home to leave us a 1-star Yelp review. Naturally, I replied publicly. Although, the review was so short that it very well could have been the lady from the previous incident. Whoever it was, she has literally never left a review above 1-star for any business.

Stay strong, keep hydrated, offer help to everyone to whom you have access, and take care of each other.

Most sincerely,
Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Free Range Wine and Yo La… wait, what now?

July 18, 2013 1 comment
Behold the fampersat!

Behold the fampersat!

Wow, it’s amazing how opening up a wine shop in Brooklyn can disappear six months of ones life. So, for those of you who don’t already know, I am now the proprietor of Free Range Wine & Spirits at 355 Atlantic Ave, here in Brooklyn, NY. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in and say hello.

Also, for those of you who don’t already know, Maxwell’s– Hoboken’s greatest (only relevant) rock club- is closing its doors forever. Recently, the Pastels were slated to play there, with the Condo Fucks (Yo La Tengo’s alter-ego, playing mostly garage covers) opening. While it was sad that the Pastels couldn’t make it stateside for the show due to visa issues, it was glorious kismet that it ended up being an acoustic Yo La Tengo set opening for the Condo Fucks. The show was beautiful and profound and heartbreaking, and was far better assessed by Yo La Historian, Jesse Jarnow, in his review for Spin which you should read. I shot a fair amount of video footage of both sets, much of which is posted on my Vimeo page HERE. Apparently my footage of the very last song will appear tonight on Fuse News, Fuse TV’s 8pET music news show. Once that segment is posted online, I’ll link it.

More soon!

Cheers,

Jack

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Riesling Throwdown: New York vs. Germany (and the Sloppy Heads!)

July 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently, I worked a tasting hosted by chef and wine educator Jacqueline Lombard. So, in a 34th floor financial district boardroom, over some fine small plates, we tasted a German Riesling and one from New York. We also tasted a Chinon (Loire Valley, France) Cab Franc against a New York Cab Franc/Merlot blend, but they were so young and overwrought with tannin that several of our guests couldn’t tell the difference. Besides, I’ll stand on a soapbox for CA 100% Merlot before I would offer this gesture towards 100% Cab Franc from NY. Riesling is native to Germany and was first brought to America in the middle of the 19th century. The Finger Lakes region of New York was one of the earliest US producers and Riesling has long been one of the few things New York has done right in regards to wine.

I’m listening to Brooklyn rockers the Sloppy Heads on a soundboard recording from their recent gig at Maxwell’s, Hoboken’s legendary rock club, and the only reason to go to New Jersey. So, the joke begins like this: A rock critic, a promoter, and a sexy redheaded Smurf walk into a bar. But the punch line is a sincere-as-it-gets Brooklyn garage rock act with enough lingering innocence to sound wholly human, while still rocking convincingly. I’m very much interested to see what comes next for and from the Sloppy Heads.

First up was the German, from the Nahe region: Jakob Schneider Riesling Kabinett 2009 (1L). The wine is as close to clear as a white can be, but the aromatic is nice, and the fruit on the palate is full yet gentle and could probably masquerade as a Gruner. It’s a Kabinett which is one level sweeter than bone-dry, but the sweetness seems more prevalent than that. Jakob Schneider Riesling Kabinett 2009 is floral and sweet with green apple and stone fruit. This is a very nice light, yet versatile Riesling for the money, particularly as it comes in 1 liter .

The challenger, from the Finger Lakes region of New York: Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2009. It’s pale gold w/ a slight green tinge, though next to the Schneider, it appears deeply yellow. This dry New York Riesling has a firmer acidity than its German counterpart and shows just a hint of effervescence that is typical to the region. Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2009 is light/medium bodied and displays pair, apricot, light citrus and subtle herbs. The crisp acidity makes this one of the food friendliest of wines, and it pairs well with a large range flavors.