5 spots to sip, sample and shop

Shopping is more fun when alcohol is on the list
5 spots to sip, sample and shop
Toot + Kate's Wine Bar

Shopping for groceries is a little more fun when wine, beer or liquor are on the list. These five shops offer merchandise you’re looking for and a place to sample it.

The concept is new and exciting for Madison: a tap room with 40 rotating beers and ciders on draft that not only can be enjoyed at the bar but can also be taken to go. BarleyPop Tap & Shop, opened in February 2017 by friends Jason Hajdik and Brandon Dorman, is both a beer bar and a beer store. And its selection will please many a beer lover. Guests can stay for some suds in the friendly yet modern space or simply purchase a growler, crowler or howler (or bring their own) and get it filled with a favorite beer to-go. Nearly 200 bottles complete the menu. Watch for special releases, pours from lesser-known breweries and occasionally other beverages like kombucha. 2045 Atwood Ave., 422-5433 $

The original Barriques Wine Cave opened its doors on Monroe Street in 1998. It was among the first on the Madison scene to combine dining and retail into one effortless, comfortable space. Now that Barriques has eight locations across Madison–the newest on University Avenue near Highland–folks have plenty of options for a place to grab a cup of coffee and a sandwich just as easily as a bottle of wine. Students and busy professionals type feverishly at rustic wood tables alongside friends meeting for after-work drinks. The selection of beer, wine and cider is vast, and you can find a quality bottle of wine for less than $10 on the “Wall of 100.” Multiple locations $

Table Wine in Madison’s Schenk-Atwood neighborhood is a wine shop done differently. Here, the intention is to visit with friends, sample something interesting and maybe even meet someone new. It’s part wine bar, part wine shop and part social center. Through creative events (including Yoga & Drinks, pop-up brunches and nonprofit meet and greets), this warm, inviting space is building community over glasses of chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Guests can enjoy wine by the glass, wine flights and simple snacks or bring dinner in–from home or one of the fabulous neighborhood eateries. Plus, nearly every wine is available for purchase. 2045 Atwood Ave. #111, 284-9732 $$

When you first visit toot + kate’s winebar, you might wonder how a place could get it so right. Have a seat at the bar and take frequent trips to the magic self-serve wine machine (also known as an Enomatic: an Italian wine preservation system) and spoil yourself with a heaping snack board of cheese, chocolates, dried fruits, olives and crackers. There aren’t many places where you can enjoy wine on tap (with helpful tasting notes, we might add) and pour it in varying sizes. But everything available for tasting on the 16 taps is also available for sale to take home. 109 South Main St., Verona, 497-1111 $

What began as a beautiful wall of high-end groceries when Merchant first opened its doors in 2010 has evolved into one of the loveliest liquor selections in all of Madison. Merchant has always procured interesting spirits and used lesser-known distillers for their expansive cocktail menu. Now diners are able to not only sip unique beverages like The Regret (Death’s Door vodka or gin, lime juice and rosemary) or Smokin’ Barrels (overproof rye, Laphroaig, tobacco tincture, Angostura bitters and maple syrup), but they can also leave with products from the craft bar that went into their much-loved cocktails. Behind the host stand, elegant wooden shelves reminiscent of your favorite childhood bookstore stretch to the ceiling. Rolling ladders glide past abundant and interesting bottles of gin, vodka, bourbon, rye, scotch, cordials, wine, champagne and bitters. You’ll feel like Belle in her library (if Belle were more into bourbon than books). 121 S. Pinckney St., 259-9799 $$