Panic in Benedictine Park

Or, “reason I hate living with a state liquor monopoly #8,437”

A rant for the locals, which neatly coincides with Raiders of the Lost Cocktail: as was pointed out to me recently by Jamie, the Washington state liquor board is reshuffling the list of brands and bottles it carries – meaning anything dropped from the list will soon be banished from the state, unobtainable short of ordering a (costly) special shipment or holding a commercial liquor license. On the latest list of casualties is Benedictine, the French herbal liqueur that matches so, so well with the flavor of whiskey.

The good news? (snark mode on): B&B remains on the list. (/snark)

Earlier this week I noticed the first orange “close-out” tags on the Benedictine shelf (the positive side: it’s now priced under $30), and the liqueur — never in huge supply — is starting to disappear from the shelves.

But while at first blush the news sounded like it could lead to the Frisco, the Widow’s Kiss and the Cocktail de la Louisiane becoming endangered species in the northwest corner of the country, Murray says not to worry – in state liquor hell, things vanish and then reappear all the time. Besides, he pointed out that bars and restaurants still have access to the wholesale liquor stockpile in downtown Seattle, which he gives me to understand is unaffected by the change.

So while you won’t be able to bring a bottle home, you can still get Benedictine cocktails while sitting at one of the small handful of bars where bartenders actually know what the stuff is for. Prompting Murray to ask, “Who’s your best friend now?”

7 Responses to Panic in Benedictine Park

  1. Paul:

    Making friends of your local State store manager will get you far. When Gus retired from the Houghton store in Kirkland, he took a lot of the goodies away from those of us looking for unusual mixers and specialty or high-end products. Then the Fourth Ave S. location started picking up some of the special treats. Now that I am East of Eden and need to drive 270 miles for that store, over a course of several years I have learned how to sweet talk my local store manager into special orders. The secret is to grow a group of enthusiasts to which a manager can pre-sell all of the goods in a special order. Once proven to the district manager that the special orders will not require an inventory (taht is they are all sold prior to shelfing), the goodies start to flow with regularity. I’m not embarrassed to say I obtained 6 bottles of Saz 18 this way.

  2. In Pennsylvania, we feel your pain. No Benedictine here either through the state run liquor store without special order.

    West Virginia and Ohio are not far away though — and cheaper by far.

  3. Those of us in the Commonwealth of Virginia certainly feel your pain as well! Luckily, we have a small special order list, but anything we want not on the list has to be ordered by the case.

    Try finding a group of people who want to split a case of Creme de Violette??? Plus, those items on the list are in stores state-wide, so good luck getting anything soon.

  4. Under $30? Please tell me that’s for the 750ml and not the small bottle. Eep!

    This is one of the things I do NOT miss about living in Seattle. (On the other hand, you have Murray and Jamie, so I think it’s a fair trade.)

  5. Cynthia, there are several state stores near me in the East End (Monroeville, Shadyside, etc.) that currently have Benedictine on the shelves- If you’d like me to pick some up for you, shoot me an email.

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