As summer ramps up, thoughts turn to outdoor fun, which means having plenty of your favorite cocktails and mixers on hand for entertaining. Whether your tastes run from the newest flavor in seltzer and beer to classic cocktails, the ingredients you choose make all the difference.
McHenry Beverage Shoppe, located in the McHenry Plaza along Garrett Highway, has been the favorite go-to shop for all your wine, beer, and spirit needs for almost four decades. McHenry Beverage Shoppe was established in 1983 by locals George & Madeline Collins.
When local entrepreneur Hugh Umbel purchased the business in 2003, he made a good thing even better, enlarging the shop and expanding inventory, building a huge walk-in cooler, and hiring the most experienced and knowledgeable staff available.
General Manager Mike Shaffer and Wine Consultant Andy McKenzie have both been working with Hugh for years and are proud of the fact that McHenry Beverage has the best selection in the tri-state area. So popular, in fact, they have regular clients from as far away as Ohio and Virginia.
Mike, who has been in the industry for over thirty years and at McHenry Beverage for the past fifteen, keeps himself and his staff up to date on the latest trends in the industry to offer their customers the best selection for their budget and needs. “Right now, craft beers and seltzers are the hottest items on the market,” says Mike.
You’ll find a large selection of both at McHenry Beverage, including a variety of flavored seltzers and ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, in both cans and bottles. “New flavors of seltzers and RTD’s come out every season. We always have the latest, and they are perfect to pick-up, put on ice, and enjoy on your boat for the afternoon.”
You will also find a great selection of microbrews including some by local brewers.McHenry Beverage has always been known for its exceptional wine selection and their “Wine Cellar” takes up a good chunk of the 5,000 square foot retail space. With a variety for every taste and budget (ranging in price from $6 to $800), the shop features almost 4,000 varieties of wine from all over the world including a selection of high-end wines not usually found in the area. “We have a large selection of Italian wines as well as summer rosés. We always have a good selection of sparkling wines – perfect for a summer afternoon on the deck,” says Andy.
Andy began working at McHenry Beverage Shoppe 14 years ago as an apprentice under George Collins, the original owner of the shop and well-known local wine expert. Over the years, Andy studied and researched the different varietals, got to know the various industry vendors, and most importantly, listened to his clients.
“All of our staff taste every variety, and we all have a hands-on knowledge of our product,” explains Andy. They offer a wine tasting every Saturday afternoon to highlight their different vendors. Held from 1 to 5 PM, the event gives its clients a chance to try new products and flavors.
Are you looking for something unique? Try their ice wine (made from frozen grapes for an even sweeter flavor), a delicious dessert wine, or something from a region you have never tried before. Andy and his staff are happy to help you choose.
Be sure to check out the back cabinet in The Wine Cellar … there you will find some unique offerings, including a cognac blend of spirits dating from the late 1800s and a liquor finished in a Mizunara Tree Barrel (a Japanese Oak tree that takes over 200 years to grow). They also have an excellent selection of sought-after, higher-quality wines. When asked if the higher price tag is worth it for some of the wines, Andy replies, “You will definitely taste a difference in the higher-end wines. They are made from the highest quality ingredients with absolute attention to detail.”
Both men acknowledge that the industry has changed significantly in the past twenty years. Says Mike, “We used to offer a couple of rosé wines in the summer; now we have at least sixty or seventy different brands of rosé, and they are available year-round.
Of course, spirits always remain popular, and you’ll find everything you could need to stock your bar, including a large selection of tequila, vodka, scotch, and bourbon. Of course, no bar is complete without the perfect mixer, and you can find those here as well. From soda to bitters to various juices, you’ll find it all on their shelves or in the cooler.
In a hurry? They offer a selection of fresh products, including snack items like cheese and fresh lemons and limes, making McHenry Beverage a true one-stop beverage shop.
Cigars are also a popular draw for the shop, and McHenry Beverage carries several varieties. They offer cigars singly or by the package and have several popular brands. “We find many people will only smoke cigars while on vacation, including women, and are happy to make recommendations,” says Andy.
McHenry Beverage Shoppe also features several weekly and monthly specials. On Wednesdays, patrons can get 10% off all beer, liquor, and cigars, and 15% off all wine (excluding already reduced sale items). They also have daily case discounts of 10% and 20%.
Are you planning a large event? The folks at McHenry Beverage can help! Their staff will not only meet with you in person for a free consultation (in-store) but can recommend quantities needed and will work within your budget. They offer free delivery and accept returns (with conditions) and can offer significant quantity discounts.
The team at McHenry Beverage does several weddings every week and is familiar with all local venues. They can provide mixers, accompaniments,ice, and most importantly, peace of mind on your big day, whether large or small.
McHenry Beverage Shoppe is open Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to 10 PM, Friday & Saturday from 8:30 AM until 11 PM, and Sunday from 8:30 AM to 9 PM. Check out their monthly specials at www.mchenrybeverageshoppe.com and stop by soon to pick out your new favorite summer libation.
Written by Linda Carr