On a chilly Thursday morning, delivery people are greeted with a smile and directed by owner Steven Rubin as to where to place their hand trucks of alcoholic beverages. Many people are drawn here for the customer service experience and friendly atmosphere when purchasing their wine or beer.
This is family-owned Huntington Wine and Sprits, which has been serving the Symphony and Northeastern University area since 1936—first as a local market. Known as Huntington Market, it offered the neighborhood fresh meats and groceries, with liquor and wine added later on. Though it has been closed for about 15 years, the store also once held Big H Deli.
Today, the store only offers beer, wine, and spirits, and fourth–generation owner Steven Rubin prides himself in the great customer service the store offers the community.
“We’re a real neighborhood store; we cater not just to the Northeastern population and the professors, but also the local residents and businesses and the music community,” Rubin said.
The stores knowledgeable staff is available to assist customers as they shop. “We don’t want anybody walking around—that’s why we stress customer service,” he said. He added that if a certain product is not in stock, they will order it and have it ready for the customer within a day and a half to two days. He said that a lot of people will go to the local restaurants and like a certain wine, “and then we bring it in for them.”
Rubin said his store differs from other liquor stores in the area because it’s one of the largest in downtown Boston, and offers great selection and service “keeping with a neighborhood feel.”
With Northeastern University right down the street, Huntington Wine and Spirits is a go-to for many students and professors. “We go by the school calendar, we actually get slow when Northeastern’s out on break,” Rubin said.
To draw people in for the holidays, Rubin says they emphasize their delivery service during the holiday season, as well as their annual wine sale—any five bottles of wine are 20-percent off storewide. “That’s a big draw and wines start at $5.99,” he said.
The store’s popularity isn’t just limited to the immediate neighborhood. “People from the South End will come on a weekend because of our selection and our wine sale,” Rubin added, as well as people from the Fenway.
Huntington Wine and Liquors also does beer, wine, and spirits tastings on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, which Rubin said always draws in a crowd. “That provides what I call the local experience, the neighborhood experience,” he said.
HOLIDAY BUYING GUIDE
Rubin provided the Sun with his recommendations for wine, beer, and liquor that will get everyone in the holiday spirit.
Rubin suggests “real heavy beers” for the holidays, and any beer with nutmeg. His recommendations from his stock include the Sam Adams Winter Classics pack, Harpoon Winter Warmer, a vanilla porter, or a whiskey barrel stout. He said he also recommends any craft cider for the holidays, as they pair well with any food.
“French roses and sparkling roses are always a hit at the holidays,” Rubin said. As for reds, “you’d want a more full-bodied, drier-style wine,” such as Cabernet Sauvignon. “You don’t want a light fresh and fruity,” he added. His recommended winter wine is a red blend, such as Cooper and Thief, which is aged in bourbon whiskey barrels, or Santa Rita Secret Reserve Red Blend, which sells for $7.99 at Huntington Wine and Spirits—the “best value in the store,” Rubin said. For white wines, Rubin recommends staying away from sauvignon blancs and leaning towards a full-bodied chardonnay from California or France. “Anything with ripe apple and pear flavors” is a good choice, Rubin said.
Rubin’s favorite spirits for the winter include Fireball cinnamon whiskey, McGillicuddy’s menthol mint, and Jagermeister. He also recommends any bourbon, because there’s “nothing like a good bourbon on a cold winter day,” he said. And then “there’s always the ‘old faithfuls’, I call them,” he said—Bailey’s original cream and Kahlua.
With New Years around the corner, Rubin’s value recommendations for sipping while waiting for the ball to drop are “any sparkling wine from France that doesn’t say champagne,” he said. These wines are produced right outside the champagne region, so they are much more affordable than champagne, even though there’s really no difference. “These wines run for $15 or under, so “you’re saving money by having it the next town over,” he said.