Is it a liquor store or is it a "package" store?

I know some of you like myself, have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning debating this red-hot topic. In New England, most people who walk into a shop to purchase their booze whether it be vodka, gin, whiskey, wine, and/or beer will usually say they're going to the package store.

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The simple answer is a liquor store and a package store are pretty much one-in-the-same. They both sell prepackaged alcoholic beverages. At Dictionary.com, when you type in "liquor store," it reads, "see package store." The definition for both reads:

A store selling sealed bottles or other containers of alcoholic beverages that may only be consumed off the premises.

In my research, I discovered a fascinating article by food writer and culinary historian, Robert F. Moss who explained in great detail the historical nuances between liquor and package stores. I'll give us both a break by keeping it brief.

In his book titled, Southern Spirits: 400 Years of Drinking in the American South, Moss explains that up until the 20th century, most breweries and distilleries only sold their products in kegs and barrels.

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In 1897, a Federal judge ruled that if booze purchased by a specific state was still in the "original packages" when sold by a wholesaler to that state, it could be sold to consumers. Before that ruling, most retailers would have to buy in bulk and then single-handedly pour the contents into bottles themselves. Within a month of the ruling, the first "package store" opened in Charleston, South Carolina. The following is a bonus video for those who have made it this far.

The judge's ruling was overturned and appealed many times over the years but eventually stuck for good as did the term, package store. You can read Moss' entire eight paragraph explanation of how the package store came to be by clicking on robertfmoss.com.

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