A comfortable chair. A glass of something satisfying at your side and a good book in your lap. It sounds like a perfect evening for many people who enjoy literary pursuits and libations.
Thankfully, there are a handful of bookstores around the country that offer a chance to browse and select books and will even pour you a drink in the process. These community and literary hubs have the bonus of beer, wine and spirits, with selections often as well-curated as what you’ll find on the bookshelves.
In the beer space, books often play a role in taproom culture, be it fully themed spots like Fiction Beer Company in Denver, or at Forest & Main in Ambler, Pennsylvania. The latter hosts a regular “Book Swap & Bottle Share” where customers are encouraged to “bring a book to swap and a bottle (or can) to share. This is the perfect excuse to dust off that bottle you’ve been wanting to share,” according to brewery social media posts.
Boozy bookshops have struck a chord with consumers. The combination of two quiet recreational activities is a welcome one, and shops offering this duo might be closer to home than you know.
Book & Bar
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
It’s almost impossible to just stop in for a quick visit to this staple of downtown Portsmouth that specializes in remaindered and used books. Several thousand are packed onto its shelves with new discoveries added all the time. Its café offers cocktails and has a draft list focused on local beers.
Book & Bar was closed for portions of the pandemic, although it used the time for refurbishments and remodeling, and just as it was set to reopen earlier this year a small flood caused some damages. The shop is calling it a “series of unfortunate events.” It is expected to reopen later this spring.
Book Bar Denver
Located in the Tennyson Street Cultural District, owners call this “a bookshop for wine lovers” and the thoughtful drinks list, including a blend from local urban winery Bonacquisti Wine Company, reflects that mission. Similar attention is paid to the books on the shelves, which focus on literary fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature.
The corner spot with big windows has a cozy neighborhood living room vibe, making it perfect for intimate author signings and readings. Book Bar also purchased another local shop, The Bookies in Glendale, Colorado, which has a small literary press. In 2021 Book Bar Denver became a Public Benefit Corporation offering Literacy, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Freedom of Expression, and Environmental Sustainability benefits to the community. Portions of sales and membership fees are donated to BookGive, a nonprofit that encourages reading.
The Book Cellar
A good glass of wine, a new book and a sense of community are all in abundance at this neighborhood bookshop. From local events to author readings, the Book Cellar has been around for more than 20 years and has long excelled at making the perfect recommendation for those looking for something new and unexpected. Ask the staff for their recommended pairing.
This bookshop has continuously evolved since it first opened in 1976. Today, Kramers is a destination not only for books but also for its dining and drinks experience. Pints from local breweries like Atlas and Right Proper are usually on offer, and a new restaurant serves creative dishes that go beyond normal café fare, like spicy carrot chickpea tartine and fettuccine New Orleans.
Schedule an appointment at the well-adorned barbershop on the second floor to round out the experience.
Rough Draft Bar & Books
Kingston, New York
From the first cup of coffee in the morning until last call, Rough Draft Bar & Books has been part of the revitalization story of Kingston, a city in New York’s Hudson Valley. This well-appointed shop serves lattes starting early in the morning and locally selected pints at night. The focus is creating a space where people feel comfortable and want to linger for a while, says cofounders Amanda and Anthony Stromoski. Visit once and you’ll get it and will begin plotting your next visit.
The Spotty Dog Books & Ale
Hudson, New York
Housed in a historical firehouse, which feels like walking into the best kind of eccentric relative’s home, this bookshop has been serving up literary inspiration with cold pints of beer from Jack’s Abby, Sloop, C.H. Evans and more since 2005. Friendly and welcoming, it’s the perfect place to discuss inspired turns of phrase as well as deft use of hops.
Trident Booksellers & Cafe
Located on the trendy Newbury Street, this family-owned bookshop opened in 1984 and has been a welcoming stop for locals, tourists and students for a quick gift or to get a recommendation on the next great read. And of course, it makes sense to stop for a few minutes and get a coffee in the morning or a glass of wine or beer later in the day. With a full café as well, Trident has long been an ideal first date spot, to catch up with old friends or just to settle into a good book.