There’s no better store than one that sells books and booze.
Whether you’re sipping wine by the fire with a juicy page-turner in your lap or having a beer on the beach with a trashy novel in hand, some of life’s greatest quiet moments have two things in common: books and booze. When Barnes & Noble announced in 2016 that they’d be offering wine in a select number of locations (some of which now host Wine Wednesdays), indie shops across the nation took note. A few had already been catering to bibliophiles with a penchant for bubbly and beer for years, but now many more are serving drinks stronger than mere coffee.
Top Picks for You
Books & Brews
WHERE: Indianapolis, Indiana
Books & Brews currently boasts nine locations but the flagship (or mothership, as they like to call it), is in Indianapolis, home to the brand’s nano brewery that supplies its satellite shops. B&B’s Core 5 brews, including the Cream and Punishment cream ale and Charlie, the chocolate milk stout (get it?), are available at all locations. The chain is the brainchild of a former stay-at-home dad who was brewing his own beer while dreaming of a place where everyone drank together and got along. Communal seating encourages the company’s “Read—Drink—Converse,” ethos and literary puns provide good icebreakers. In summer, be sure to try the lavender wheat favorite, Flowers for Ale-gernon.
WHERE: Washington, D.C.
Kramerbooks, locally known as Kramer’s, is a full-service restaurant, bar, and bookstore that opened in 1976 to provide “two of the three most enjoyable human experiences.” Eighteen local craft beers, an extensive wine list, and literary-themed cocktails like the Fahrenheit 1517 (their street address) and the Lord of the Pimms are available at the restaurant and bar, but also while browsing the stacks or enjoying an author talk. The carefully curated book selection is famed in D.C., cultivating a devoted clientele that has included literary legends like Maya Angelou.
WHERE: Denver, Colorado
Billed as a bookshop for wine lovers and a wine bar for book shoppers, BookBar encourages equal parts reading and drinking in the arts district of Denver. With its own BookBar red blend created just for the shop, wine is the clear favorite here, but Colorado beers are also offered. Uncork a bottle for a book club meeting, grab a beer for an author reading, or just stop by for bottomless mimosas on Sunday. If you end up drinking a little more than you read, don’t worry: you can stay over at BookBed, the shop’s literary-themed one-bedroom apartment just upstairs from the books and booze!
The Book Cellar
WHERE: Chicago, Illinois
Smack in the heart of Chicago’s up-and-coming indie neighborhood, Lincoln Square, The Book Cellar proudly sells both “fruits of the vine and fruits of knowledge.” Beer and occasional specialty cocktails like Dumbledore’s Lemon Drop and the Gentleman in Moscow Mule are also available at this bookshop that understands that while books pair well with a cup of joe, “at some point in the day, people are done with coffee.” Bring on the booze.
Ada’s Technical Books
WHERE: Seattle, Washington
Ada’s Technical Books isn’t just for manuals and guides, but for all things geek. Striving to create a community space that puts its readers at ease, alcohol was a natural choice for the store. Beer and wine are available the store’s café, and cocktails are available in the event space, Ada’s Lab. If books and booze aren’t enough of a pairing for you, stop by for one of the store’s Board Games and Booze nights for an extra infusion of fun.
Housing Works Bookstore
WHERE: New York, New York
Not a lot of bookstores host weddings, but this one does, so it’s no surprise that champagnes are available here, along with beer, wine, and cocktails. Wine and Brooklyn Lager are among the café bar’s best-sellers, but there isn’t much you can’t get before book browsing. Not that you’d need additional incentive to visit any boozy bookstore, but the Housing Works organization supports essential services for New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS and homelessness, so you’ll have a great excuse for ordering another round before heading out with your new reads.
Elements: Books Coffee Beer
WHERE: Biddeford, Maine
This new and used bookshop also offers wine but, as you can guess from the name, the focus here is beer. The ten draft lines at Elements pour Maine craft brews and the most popular is from Banded Brewing Company, also in Biddeford. If you’re in town over a weekend, be sure to pop in for live music every Friday and Saturday night!
Books & Books
WHERE: Coral Gables, Florida
Famous for it impressive offering of arts and photography books, the flagship Books & Books in Coral Gables is one of nine current locations and features an open-air courtyard where you’ll find the wine bar. Local craft beers and wines by the bottle or glass are available, but don’t miss the unique wine cocktails created on site by the store’s clever bartender.
INSIDER TIPTwo other Miami locations of Books & Books also serve alcohol: Miami Beach and the Arsht Center.
WHERE: Baltimore, Maryland
This offbeat bookstore that advertises “literary finds for mutated minds” has the unusual distinction of being the location where John Waters receives his fan mail (really). Its Daniel Clowes-themed bar, Eightbar (a nod to the artist’s 25-year comic anthology, Eightball) serves not just wine and literary-themed beers like Edgar Allan Poe beers and Game of Thrones beers, but also the oft-forgotten meads, including seasonal mead cocktails.
WHERE: Providence, Rhode Island
Riffraff is equal parts bookstore and full-service bar, intentionally designed with a shared focus on each in a communal setting to encourage gatherings, especially in the evenings. The most popular drinks here are the New England craft beers and innovative cocktail creations, especially cocktail No. 4, comprised of tequila, absinthe, lime juice, and pineapple juice (don’t try to order it by name—the cocktails here are simply numbered).
WHERE: Raleigh, North Carolina
This innovative space defies conventional categorization. It’s a Belgian-inspired brewery and restaurant serving more than 20 original beers alongside full craft cocktail and wine programs in an open floorplan that also contains a bookshop and a flower shop under a three-story skylight nurturing three giant fig trees. Did you catch all that? There’s also a library of more than 4,000 titles donated by the community. Bhavana aims to serve as the “living room of the community,” so drop in to grab a bite and a drink, and sit down with locals to discuss the important topics facing our world today.
Spotty Dog Books & Ale
WHERE: Hudson, New York
Located in the former C. H. Evans firehouse, Spotty Dog is proud to serve beers from C. H. Evans Brewing, keeping the family history of the building and community alive. While browsing books, visitors can sample , beer, cider, and kombucha on tap, or try one of the seasonal canned beers, sakes, or wine. Brush up on your brainpower with the store’s 10,000-title selection before testing your wits at Spotty Dog Trivia, the “bi-weekly, all-nerd throwdown.”
Busboys & Poets
WHERE: Washington, D.C.
Busboys & Poets considers itself a cultural space that helps inspire social change to transform its community and the world. All six D.C.-area locations include a bookstore along with a restaurant and bar where you can grab local (and less local) brews, wine, and cocktails before engaging in meaningful conversations with new and old friends. For a true Busboys & Poets experience, try the signature cocktail, D.C. Tap Water (a vodka cocktail with a ton of ingredients including peach schnapps, blue curacao, and Sierra Mist). Weekday day happy hours are an added bonus, and not something you’ll find at many other bookstores!
INSIDER TIPPossible bonus, depending on your style: You can grab a drink as early as 7 am here!
WHERE: Tampa, Florida
Inspired by old London clubs, Oxford Exchange recreates a similar cultural exchange by combining a restaurant, bookstore, workspace, event space, and shop under one very large roof. While you can’t peruse the pages with a drink in hand, the restaurant’s beer, wine, and cocktail list offer plenty of opportunities to whet your whistle with a top-notch meal before shopping for your next great read.
WHERE: Iowa City, Iowa
The multistory Prairie Lights bookshop used to house a coffee shop on its top floor (floor 3.5), and it still does, but its beverages have since been expanded to include wine and beer. If you want to combine the best of both book beverage worlds, you could opt for the beer and espresso cocktail. Not sure which books to read next? Not to worry! In addition to providing staff selections, Prairie Lights also creates suggested reading lists in a variety of categories.
Story & Song Neighborhood Bookstore
WHERE: Bistro Amelia Island, Florida
As the name suggests, Story & Song is dedicated to cultivating more than just the art of the written word. Just above the carefully curated bookshop is The Second Story, a gallery and performance space, and local arts and artisan products can be found throughout both levels and in the store’s courtyard. The bistro’s regional beer and seasonal wine selections are the perfect warm-up for the store’s monthly cultural event, An Evening of Story & Song. And don’t worry: There are plenty of other concerts, readings, and talks throughout the month, too.