When Adam Kamin decided he wanted to open a bottle shop, he thought about his favorite liquor stores. Warehouse Liquors covered his bourbon needs, and he liked Red & White for its well-curated wines. But he couldn't name a place that had the exact selection and vibe he had in mind, so he did what any good entrepreneur would do: start his own business.
Kamin, who is beverage director and partner at The Delta, has spent years working in bars and restaurants. Off Premise (1128 W. Armitage, Lincoln Park) is his first retail venture. The liquor store is ready to open its doors on July 3.
“I’ve always wanted to have a shop of my own,” Kamin says. “This is a passion project. I’ve always worked ‘on-premise,’ and this was my first ‘off-premise’ project.” (The store’s name refers to the liquor license that permits the sale of alcoholic drinks in closed containers, for off-premise consumption.)
Off Premise will carry a full line of spirits, wine, and beer, but it’ll have few clear areas of focus. Kamin is really into natural wines, although he insists he’s not going to be annoying about it. “I don’t need to be completely dogmatic when it comes to all the rules," he says. "We’re calling it 'real wine' here. [That term] is about respecting the process, the farms, and the land, and trying to keep it as traditional as possible." Thankfully, “real” doesn’t also mean “expensive”—bottle prices will generally run between $15 to $25.
Another focus will be bourbon, available in both vintage stock and single-barrel options (some of these will be retail versions of Delta exclusives). A well-picked selection of spirits and a small set of craft beers (with a lot of New England-style IPAs and wild sours) will round out the offerings. As a bonus, the store will have a small selection of gourmet food, including conserva, coffees, jams, and crackers, making it easy to shop for your whole cocktail party.
Speaking of cocktails, Kamin is working on something really fun: cocktail kits, created in partnership with some of Chicago’s best mixologists. He wants to help customers bring home the drinks they’ve grown to love at their favorite bars. Imagine making a drink from the Violet Hour or Lost Lake, but with all ingredients at-the-ready. A possible early release will be The Lorraine, a libation from The Delta that combines absinthe, sherry, strawberry, lime, and mint—a few things you might not have lying around the house.
“I don’t think it’s going to look like any bottle shop you’ve ever been to,” Kamin says of his forthcoming spot. “I want it to be striking. I plan on hanging out there, so it had to be a place I wanted to hang out at.”