It is Friday and the time is 5:00 p.m. Your last class of the day ended 10 minutes ago, and the weekend has officially begun. Leaving behind a week chock-full of exams, papers and lectures from that boring, monotone professor won’t be simple. A sure way to start will require a sixer and catching up on Boardwalk Empire. While it would be closer to head to the local liquor store, you decide to make the trip to Binny’s: CU’s Best Liquor Store.
Located at the intersection of Prospect Avenue and West Town Center Boulevard, Binny’s is not a walking distance away from campus. However, what the beverage depot lacks in convenient distance, it more than makes up for in other areas. Coming up on its second birthday in Champaign, Binny’s seems to have it all figured out. When asked what Binny’s offers that your local liquor store doesn’t, Bradley Stein, who works as a controller at Binny’s, said: “We really invest a lot of effort into our employees. Making sure that all of our staff is well-educated allows them to provide customers with a great experience in the store.” This rings true. When I walked into Binny’s, I stumbled upon a Francis Ford Coppola wine. I then approached the nearest employee and asked her where his other wines were. Without hesitation, she took me over to each of Coppola’s products. In addition, she assisted me in choosing by describing the differences to me.
Stein also said that there are weekly wine tastings held inside the store. Additionally, Binny’s has a team of liquor scouts, trained individuals who aim to discover new beer, wine and spirits from all over. In the process, they evaluate these potential products by way of taste and price, constantly negotiating for the customer to achieve the best deal. The whole Zero Dark Tequila task force is proof that if you can’t find it at Binny’s, it’s not worth drinking.
While perusing, you decide that you want to change it up tonight. You’ll be sharing a couple of drinks with Nucky Thompson, so you’ll want to keep it classy. A nice bottle of Bulleit Bourbon and the ingredients for an Old Fashioned find their way into your shopping basket (whiskey stones included because Binny’s carries awesome items like that). While the massive selection is a perk, Binny’s focuses more on its experience for the customer. You can buy the items the store sells online or in other stores. Binny’s knows this. But by using the store to stage events like wine tastings, complete with the works of a knowledgeable and personable staff, Binny’s truly offers something no other store can mimic. Step in the door and you’ll see for yourself.
2nd place – Friar Tuck
3rd place – Picadilly