Last Updated on March 16, 2022 by Jeremy
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Pennsylvania liquor laws are weird. In fact, we'd go as far as saying they're awful. Between the state-run liquor stores, limited accessibility of beer and wine outside of producers and select sellers, and other oddities, finding a good bottle to enjoy in Pennsylvania does not come without its challenges.
Thankfully, some of the most archaic of regulations have been changing in recent years, and one such change has allowed for the creation of a unique store in the Strip District called Pennsylvania Libations (now with a second location in Shadyside, too!).
Their products? 100% Pennsylvania-made spirits.
A Great Collection of Local Spirits at Pennsylvania Libations
One of the recent changes to Pennsylvania liquor laws that we quite like is that it allows alcohol producers with bar programs to sell products from other manufacturers in the state. So if you are drinking at a brewery in Pittsburgh and they have a cocktail program, odds are good that 100% of the spirits are produced within the state (this would also be true for having guest taps and local wines as well).
While we cannot say if it is this law that Pennsylvania Libations specifically tapped into, or another one altogether, we can say that something change that allowed a private enterprise to open a storefront completely dedicated to sharing, and selling, Pennsylvania spirits. For that, we are quite happy.
This is readily apparent within moments of walking into the small showroom on Penn Avenue. Every surface is covered in shelves and is stocked with libations from Pittsburgh producers like Quantum Spirits and Liberty Pole to those from the furthest corners of the state.
During your first visit to the store, this can be a bit overwhelming (although the staff are more than helpful to share their knowledge on everything). But as you return again and again, like we do, you really get to see how our libations scene is growing with the addition of new distilleries, new releases, and so much more.
Now we simply visit this one to find out what's new in the state, and to do our second favorite activity- taste!
The Best Part? You Can Try Just About Everything
One of my favorite parts of this store is not just the collection of items that are available to purchase, but rather that they are allowed to provide samples of just about everything in order for you to try before you buy.
And I do mean everything.
This makes visiting quite fun as you can spend a fair bit of time talking to the employees, asking questions about producers, ingredients, and flavor profiles, and then try a sample to understand the flavors for yourself.
Suffice it to say, we've found a few new favorite Pennsylvania distilleries and products this way, and almost always leave with a bottle after trying a few tastes. When you find something good, it is really hard to pass it up!
The only downside to this store? Don't go to this one expecting to find vermouth. Apparently that one is too close to wine for the state's liking and remains only being available directly from the producer or at a Fine Wine and Good Spirits store (which, sadly, does not have a great stock).
Vermouth issues aside, Pennsylvania Libations is one of our favorite specialty stores in the Strip District and is the kind of store we wish we could see more of in the region (local, themed, or otherwise). But until then, when we want a local specialty spirit, odds are good we'll be heading down to Pennsylvania Libations to see what they've got- and sample a few while we're at it.
Pennsylvania Libations is located at 2103 Penn Avenue in the Strip District. The store has also expanded for a second location at 5530 Walnut Street in Shadyside. This article is from our visit to the Strip District location.
Looking for more great specialty stores in Pittsburgh? Click the previous link to find some that are outside of the Strip District!