Liquor Mountain is a chain liquor store throughout Japan that sells… well pretty much everything you can think of to put in your mouth. Except that. I can read your thoughts internet pervert. Put them away, we’re here to talk about food. Of course Liquor Mountain sells booze (mountains of it, to be exact) but behind the racks of wine and whiskey and innumerable varieties of flavored liqueurs, Liquor Mountain also offers the hungry shopper an entire grocery store worth of domestic and foreign foodstuffs. This discovery is especially tragic as Alex and I are cutting back on our twenty-something snacking habits, and we’re leaving Japan for good relatively soon. The knowledge that this wealth of interesting, international food has been literally a 10 minute walk from our house all this time is heartbreaking.
What kinds of food does Liquor Mountain sell, exactly? I’m glad you asked because I ran around a local Liquor Mountain, dodging store employees so I could bring you pictures of the offspring of a liquor store and an import grocery store.
If you’re like me and you like touring shops clockwise, then the first thing Liquor Mountain has to offer is an impressive full wall of whiskey, both import and domestic. Seriously, I had no idea this many varieties even existed. It’s like walking into a whiskey history museum. It’s incredible, and I don’t even like whiskey that much.
Their wine and champagne selection is just as impressive, taking up over four full aisles and another wall. Wine has been growing on me recently, though I still sneak some orange juice into a glass of white when no one’s looking.
The first sign you get that Liquor Mountain is more than it seems is when you pass their deli section. The brain tries to rationalize seeing smoked franks, bacon and cream cheese between the wine and craft beer sections; what if someone is putting on a wine and cheese party? And drunks are second only to pot heads when it comes to late night snacking. It’s not all that strange, really, that a liquor store might want to stock up on some party essentials and boost their revenue a little bit.
But then you turn around and run into a wall of imported curry mixes and pickles. “What in the world sort of party is this?” you ask yourself, as this wine and cheese (or whiskey and sausage) event seems to be turning in the direction of early-morning gastrointestinal distress rather quickly.
So you turn the corner and take comfort in the bottled beer section, and that familiar malty smell, only to be immediately confronted with Italy’s entire history of pasta on one side, and coffee, tea and breakfast cereals on the other around the next bend. You turn around and test the air behind you for some sign of the wormhole that must connect this liquor store to the grocery across town but no, there’s no dimensional disruption. You’re in the same liquor store. “Ok,” you reason. “Ok, people need coffee and tea to combat a hangover. That’s not so bad. And… and pasta helps cure diarrhea, that’ll be useful after all that whiskey and curry.” But the breakfast cereal throws you for a loop, so you quickly rush to the next aisle.
Condiments! An entire aisle of condiments greets you, followed by three aisles of snack food and juice. All you wanted was a case of beer and now your cart is loaded up with an entire week’s worth of groceries! And the store seems to go on forever, with no end in sight. You might have to bust open a jar of coconut oil, just for the calories to make it through to the end!
Soon Liquor Mountain returns you to the realm of your expectations, and gives you a spirits aisle. On one side Japanese and on the other, imported. I was happy to find Havana Club here, which is far and away my favorite rum out of an admittedly tasty selection. There is also quite the assortment of ume-shuu, which I also have a bit of an attachment for. The amount of flavored liqueurs and novelty alcohols is astounding. One almost wishes one was an alcoholic for the ability to taste and mix with all of them, because no healthy amount of alcohol consumption over a lifetime would ever allow anyone to try that many samples.
From here, Liquor Mountain tapers back off into a regular liquor store, save for packs of dried fish decorating the ends of every aisle. In case you’re wondering, that’s a pack of squid and cheese jerky up there. Yup.
All the fixings you need for making your own fruit liquor at home;
A variety of Nihon-shuu (Japanese clear grain liquor);
What the hell, give me an entire four liters;
More beer and canned cocktails;
And on your way out, why not pick up some marshmallows?
Spending half an hour in Liquor Mountain makes me wonder why anyone does their grocery shopping anywhere else. There’s enough alcohol and snack food in there to keep me comfortable throughout a zombie apocalypse, that’s for sure.
Because today is my birthday, and because my wonderful friend Amber likes to send me giant bottles of liquor for every year I take another step closer to the grave, tonight I will be indulging in great quantities of alcohol which I may or may not post pictures of here. Stay tuned.