If there are any oenophiles (wine lovers), cerevisaphiles (beer lovers), or aquavitaphiles (cocktail lovers) on your holiday shopping list this year, look no further than downtown Ithaca! Widely known as a haven for gourmet specialty foods and fine dining, the Ithaca Commons and surrounding walkable blocks of Downtown Ithaca are also home to several unique, locally-owned shops specializing in regional and imported wines, craft beer and homebrewing supplies, and spirits and liqueurs to suit all tastes and budgets.
Established in May 2013, The Cellar d’Or is a husband-and-wife shop at 136 The Commons that specialized in small-production, estate-bottled wines and ciders. They carry hundreds of selections from all over the world and feature an entire section devoted to New York State products. Says co-owner Mark Grimaldi, “The store caters to everyone – from the novice looking for a great, inexpensive bottle, to the seasoned collector looking for something special for their cellar. We’re wine geeks at heart, but we’re also laidback about it.” The Cellar d’Or holds weekly wine tastings every Friday from 5:00-8:00 PM and has a “Special Club” that offers members monthly selections curated by the staff.
The Ithaca Coffee Company’s downtown location at Gateway Commons, 311 East Green Street, carries quality local, national, and international craft beers. Customers can sample their ever-evolving selection by mixing up a six-pack to go, or staying to enjoy a pint or two from the tavern’s rotating drafts. Says Marketing Director Aaron Rovitz, “In late 2012, we added a homebrewing section that includes ingredients and equipment for the beer lover wanting to brew their own.” Beside starter kits for beginners, Ithaca Coffee Company offers a wide selection of advanced equipment like wort chillers and carboys, in addition to a fully-stocked assortment of grains, yeasts, and hops from all around the world.
A downtown mainstay, Sam’s Wine & Spirits at 126 South Cayuga Street has been providing thirsty Ithacans with quality liquors since 1989. In addition to their comprehensive selection of national and international brands of vodka, rum, whisky, tequila, gin, brandy, and liqueur, Sam’s is proud to carry several Finger Lakes Distilling products, including their award-winning Seneca Drums gin and McKenzie Bourbon Whiskey and five varieties of their locally-sourced fruit liqueur. Sam’s also offers a wide range of wines from the Finger Lakes Region and beyond. Says manager Doug Tenbroeck, “If we don’t carry the wine or spirit you’re looking for, just ask and we’ll try and get it for you.”
In addition to these stores, you can also get sample flights, pints, and growlers to go at downtown Ithaca’s only microbrewery, Bandwagon Brewpub (114 North Cayuga Street), and you can find locally and globally famous bottled beers at GreenStar Oasis (Dewitt Mall, 215 North Cayuga Street), A-Plus Mini Mart (210 South Cayuga Street), and Commons Market (124 North Aurora Street). For more gift ideas for local gourmands, see our previous article: https://downtownith.com/2013/12/05/downtown-ithaca-peppered-with-gourmet-gift-ideas/. Tis the season to shop downtown!